Frustrated Annan resigns as U.N.'s Syrian peace envoy
Kofi Annan tied his decision to what he described as Syrian government intransigence, increasing militance by Syrian rebels and the failure of a divided U.N. Security Council to rally behind his efforts.
The New York Times
Frustrated by the Syrian conflict, Kofi Annan announced his resignation Thursday as the special peace envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League. He also said President Bashar Assad of Syria "must leave office."
Annan tied his decision to what he described as Syrian government intransigence, increasing militance by Syrian rebels and the failure of a divided U.N. Security Council to rally behind his efforts.
"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 news conference at the Geneva offices of the United Nations.
But, he said, "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 ... and also the opposition, to take the steps necessary to begin a political process."
Annan also criticized "finger-pointing and name-calling in the Security Council."
The announcement was coupled with an opinion article Annan wrote that was posted Thursday on the website of The Financial Times and headlined "My Departing Advice on How to Save Syria."
In the article he castigated all parties in the conflict but appeared to reserve particular criticism for the Syrian government, which he described as "40 years of dictatorship."
"It is clear that President Bashar al-Assad must leave office," Annan wrote. "The greater focus, however, must be on measures and structures to secure a peaceful long-term transition to avoid a chaotic collapse."
Diplomats and Syria political experts said they were not surprised at Annan's resignation. Some wondered why it had taken him this long.
"Bottom line on Kofi's mission. DOA from the get go," Aaron David Miller, a Middle East scholar at the Wilson Center, a research group in Washington, said in an email.
Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary-general, said the search was on for a successor to Annan, who will serve until the end of August, when his mandate expires.
It was unclear what the resignation might mean for the U.N. observer mission in Syria, which was sent there by the Security Council as part of Annan's peace plan and suspended most work in mid-June because of the violence. The observer mission's mandate is to expire Aug. 19.
A Nobel Peace Prize winner and former U.N. secretary-general, Annan, 74, agreed in February to act as a special representative for the U.N. and the Arab League to negotiate a peace plan. He received unanimous backing from the Security Council.
He negotiated a six-point proposal that called for, among other things, the Syrian government to withdraw its heavy weapons and troops from populated areas and for anti-Assad fighters to put down their guns.
Despite a pledge from Assad on March 27 to abide by the peace plan, the Syrian government never put it in place. Assad's opponents, concluding he had no intention of honoring his commitments, did not lay down their weapons either.