Eye on new Syria envoy

The UN and Arab league agree that Algerian diplomat should replace Kofi Annan as Special Envoy to Syria

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    The United Nations and the Arab League have agreed that veteran Algerian diplomat, Lakhdar Brahimi should replace Kofi Annan when he steps down as Joint Special Envoy to Syria at the end of the month.

    Now they just have to convince him to take the job.

    Sources at the UN tell me the offer has been made, but the 78-year-old Brahimi is not exactly jumping at the opportunity to take on what many have described as “mission impossible.”

    Annan himself said that he could do no more to help end the bloodshed in Syria. He blamed both the Syrian government and opposition for continuing to fight, and the Security Council for sending mixed messages.

    Annan and Brahimi are both members of The Elders, a self-described group of “independent leaders using their collective experience and influence for peace, justice and human rights worldwide.”

    The group released a statement Friday expressing “deep moral outrage” at the international community’s inability to stop the carnage in Syria.

    In it, Brahimi is quoted saying: “Millions of Syrians are clamouring for peace ... world leaders cannot remain divided any longer, over and above their cries.”

    Obvious choice

    Brahimi seems like an obvious choice with his wealth of experience mediating conflict in the Middle East, from Afghanistan in 2004, to Lebanon at the end of its civil war.

    But who can blame him – or anyone – for not wanting to be put in such a difficult position?

    Despite the obvious challenges, UN officials and diplomats think it is important to find a replacement for Annan.

    “We simply can’t let down the Syrians and say to these people, "let’s go fight and come back when you are finished your fighting," said French Ambassador and current president of the Security Council, Gerard Araud.

    “Maybe this special envoy, maybe it will be useless in the first week or the first weeks. At least there will be somebody who will be ready to seize any opportunity to … find a political solution.”

    Now they just have to find someone willing to do the job.


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