Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Has Syria Become The UN's Proxy Battlefield?

Following Kofi Annan's resignation we ask if the UN is engaged in a hegemonic power struggle over the Syrian conflict. 

"I do not intend to continue my mission when my mandate expires at the end of August," Kofi Annan said when announcing his resignation as the UN-Arab League peace envoy for Syria on Thursday.

While it was no secret that the former UN secretary-general was frustrated at his failure to implement a six-point peace plan in Syria, we are told that his announcement on Thursday took the international community by surprise.

Clearly, the prospects for a negotiated end to the violence look grim. Annan blames his decision on what he described as Syrian government intransigence, and the opposition's escalating military campaign.

But he was particularly critical of what he called the failure of a divided international community.

Speaking in Geneva, 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 Geneva communique, endorsed by the Action Group for Syria on 30 June, provided an international agreement on a framework for political transition. This should have been automatically endorsed by Security Council and something the international community should have built on." 

After he resigned, Annan wrote an op-ed for the Financial Times saying that multiple players were responsible for the failure of diplomacy in Syria, and made it clear that al-Assad is not solely responsible for peace in the region.

Speaking to Al Jazeera just before Annan's announcement, John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the UN, when asked if he would advice Mitt Romney, the Republican US presidential candidate, to support Syrian rebels, said:

"I don't think we have an adequate grasp who the opposition really is, I think it remains disorganised. I think there's certainly pro-western pro-democratic elements but there are terrorist and jihadist elements as well. I'm very concerned that if we gave particularly lethal assistance to the opposition that we couldn't control what happened to it and that there is a risk if Assad falls of a bloodbath against the Alawite, Christian and Druze communities in Syria." 

In another development, it has emerged that Barack Obama, the US president, has secretly authorised US support for the Free Syrian Army, according to reports by Reuters news agency citing US sources.

This is thought to include clandestine CIA backup. But the White House is maintaining its public position that arming the rebels is not a solution.
"It is true that outside parties…bring their own interest to the table when it comes to formulating their approach to what is essentially an internal Syrian conflict…unfortunately the fact that it [remains] unresolved opens the country to more and more external influence."
Michele Dunne, a director at the Atlantic Council

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