Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said Thursday that his decision to quit as UN-Arab League special joint envoy for Syria was prompted by the increasing militarization of the ongoing conflict as well as the lack of unity among United Nations Security Council members in resolving the crisis.
"I accepted this task, which some called 'mission impossible,' for I believed it was a sacred duty to do whatever was in my power to help the Syrian people find a peaceful solution to this bloody conflict," Annan said at a hastily organized news conference in Geneva.
He said the lack of unity among UN Security Council members had "fundamentally changed the circumstances for the effective exercise of my role," apparently referring to the Russian and Chinese opposition to western efforts for punishing the Syrian regime at the UN for its brutal repression of dissent.
"The bloodshed continues, most of all because of the Syrian government's intransigence, and continuing refusal to implement the six-point plan, and also because of the escalating military campaign of the opposition - all of which is compounded by the disunity of the international community."
Criticizing what he described as the "disunity" among world powers on the Syrian crisis, Annan said: "At a time when we need — when the Syrian people desperately need action — there continues to be finger pointing and name calling in the Security Council."
The former UN chief stressed that "without serious, purposeful and united international pressure, including from the powers of the region, it is impossible for me, or anyone, to compel the Syrian government in the first place, and also the opposition, to take the steps necessary to begin a political process."
Acknowledging that there might be other ways to resolving the conflict other than the ones pursued by him, Annan expressed hopes that his successor would have more luck or success in halting the ongoing violence in Syria. Annan, nevertheless, stressed that focus should remain on a political transition in Syria as President Bashar al-Assad "will have to leave sooner or later."
Earlier in the day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had announced Annan's plans to quit the post of the joint envoy for Syria, saying that Annan had informed him and Arab League President Nabil El Araby, about his intention "not to renew his mandate when it expires on 31 August 2012."
Annan, a former UN Secretary-General, was appointed in late February to serve as the joint representative of the Secretaries-General of the United Nations and the League of Arab States on the Syrian crisis. His appointment was aimed at initiating efforts to bring an end to all violence as well as human rights violations and to devise a peaceful solution to the crisis.
As part of his efforts, Annan put forward a six-point peace plan. The plan called for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.
The plan was initially accepted by the Syrian government and the opposition, but with little success in implementing the plan on the ground. Syrian rebel groups abandoned the plan altogether, citing continued killing of civilians by government forces as the cause.
The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011. The opposition, however, claims the actual death toll closer to 20,000.
The ongoing conflict in Syria is now viewed as a civil war by most of the international community. In recent days, there have been reports of an escalation in violence in many towns and villages, particularly the country's two biggest cities of Damascus and Aleppo.
by RTT Staff Writer
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