The UN-Arab League joint special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, is leaving his post at the end of August, the UN announced yesterday.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Annan had decided not to renew his mandate when it expires at the end of the month. Annan authored a six-point peace plan for Syria, which was intended to bring an end to the fighting.
Speaking at a press conference, Annan said “at a time when we need action, there continues to be finger pointing and name calling in the Security Council”. Annan added that 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”.
Speaking in Geneva, he said the problems were “compounded by the disunity of the international community… 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.”
Annan said he did not rule out someone taking over his mediating role, however, it is hard to imagine a figure with anything approaching the stature and profile of Annan taking over the task from him when the prospects for success are slim.
He said the focus in Syria ought to remain on political transition, as President Bashar al-Assad “will have to leave sooner or later”.
Meanwhile, in Syria yesterday, rebel fighters in Syria’s second city, Aleppo, attacked an army base using a tank they had seized from the military. In the capital, Damascus, government forces launched two operations to root out rebel activists on Wednesday, killing at least 70, the opposition said.
Syrian Activists based in London estimate some 20,000 people have died since anti-government protests erupted against President Assad in March last year. Tens of thousands of people have also fled the country.