Ex UNSG Kofi Annan quits Syrian envoy effort, sprinkling blame liberally all around

Five months ago, former UN Secretary-General Annan [who is retired, after two terms in office and living in Geneva] accepted the job of joint UN and Arab League envoy to end to bloodshed in Syria.

Today, Annan told journalists at a news conference in the Palais des Nations in Geneva that he was giving up — but he’s apparently not walking out and leaving right away, he said….

He’ll be leaving at the end of the month, on 31 August.

Coincidentally, France — which is the most gung-ho in wanting intervention in Syria — has assumed the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council for the month, and will preside over all deliberations durin the entire of August.

Does that suggest that Annan might be persuaded, if circumstances change, to change his mind?

It seems not. Here is what he replied when asked by a journalist, “Is this a resignation?”: “Yes, I am not going to continue”, Annan said.

But, there’s something about this that gives the impression that Annan didn’t jump on his own, and that he was pushed.

Just look at the expressions on these two faces — both of these men, including spokesperson Ahmad Fawzi on the left, show unease, if not chagrin — not regret or firm determination. They look perturbed.

UN Photo by Yann Castanier
This photo is posted by the UN here.

Ian Black wrote in The Guardian here that Annan made “a sometimes bitter and frustrated statement” in the Geneva press conference. Black also wrote that “Sluggish and ineffective diplomacy has been outpaced by a fast-moving and increasingly dangerous situation” on the ground in Syria, particularly in Aleppo.

It may be that Annan was perturbed by a reference, reportedly since eliminated, that he should better focus his efforts — a reference contained in a Saudi-backed draft text on Syria due to be presented to the UN General Assembly on Friday.

But, it is interesting that UNSG BAN Ki-Moon so readily accepted Annan’s resignation [ok, BAN did say “with deep regret”, but that’s the least he could do]. And, instead of diplomatic reflection, or saying that the entire business is under re-evaluation, there was an immediate flurry of speculation about who might be Annan’s successor…

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