Frustrated Kofi Annan Quits as Syria Peace Envoy

The UN-Arab League joint special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan has announced he is leaving his post.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is quitting as international peace envoy for Syria, frustrated by “finger-pointing” at the United Nations while the armed rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad becomes increasingly bloody. Photo: UN Photo Geneva/Flickr

The United Nations’ envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, announced his decision at a press conference in Geneva, citing finger pointing and divisions within the Security Council as part of his reason for quitting.

Annan’s six-point peace plan for Syria which was intended to bring an end to the fighting was never fully adhered to by either side and the violence has continued to escalate.

“The increasing militarization on the ground and the clear lack of unity in the Security Council have fundamentally changed the circumstances for the effective exercise of my role,” Annan said.

Speaking in Geneva, Kofi Annan said the increasing militarisation of the Syrian conflict and the “clear lack of unity” in the Security Council had “fundamentally changed the circumstances for the effective exercise of my role”.

The nearly 17-month-long Syrian crisis started when the regime brutally cracked down on peaceful protesters in March 2011 and morphed into a nationwide uprising, writes CNN.

Among the five permanent members of the council, Russia and China have persistently disagreed with tough action against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad that is favored by the United States, Britain and France.

“When the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger-pointing and name-calling in the Security Council,” Annan said. “It is impossible for me or anyone to compel the Syrian government, and also the opposition, to take the steps to bring about the political process.

“Syria can still be saved from the worst calamity – if the international community can show the courage and leadership necessary to compromise on their partial interests for the sake of the Syrian people – for the men, women and children who have already suffered far too much.”

When asked whether anyone will succeed him, Annan responded, “The world is full of crazy people like me. So don’t be surprised if Secretary General Ban Ki-moon can find someone who can do a better job than me.”

According to The Huff Post, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement accepting Annan’s resignation with “deep regret” and will work with the Arab League to seek a successor.

He said Mr Annan deserved “profound admiration” for the way he had tackled “this most difficult and potentially thankless of assignments” and that he remained convinced bloodshed would only bring “deeper suffering to the country and greater peril to the region”.

BBC reports that Mr Ban said the Annan plan remained the “best hope for the people of Syria” but that the “persistent divisions” in the UN Security Council “have themselves become an obstacle to diplomacy, making the work of any mediator vastly more difficult”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Mr Annan was “a man of great merit, a brilliant diplomat and a very honest person, so it is a great shame”.

White House spokesman Jay Carney blamed Russia and China for the resignation, saying it highlighted their failure at the UN to “support meaningful resolutions against Assad that would have held Assad accountable”.

Kofi Annan will leave his position on August 31. His memoir, “Interventions: A Life in War and Peace,” is set to be published this September.

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