Norwegian General Mood Named Head of U.N. Syria Missionإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The United Nations on Friday put Major General Robert Mood of Norway, a veteran of troublesome truces, in charge of the force monitoring the faltering ceasefire in Syria.
Mood was already heading for Damascus when U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon publicly announced the nomination, diplomats said.
The Norwegian general takes over a mission that faces major obstacles and doubts before the full 300 force has even gathered. Mood has already highlighted the "abyss of suspicion" between President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian opposition.
The cessation of hostilities that started on April 12 takes a new battering each day and Ban said Thursday that Assad's government is "in contravention" of the peace accord with U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan by not withdrawing its troops and heavy weapons from Syrian cities.
"The continued repression of the civilian population is totally unacceptable. It must stop immediately. The government of Syria must live up to its promises to the world," Ban said Friday on a trip to New Delhi.
Mood, 54, knows Damascus well and was there to negotiate conditions for the U.N. advanced team.
The general "brings to his new position extensive command experience and knowledge of peacekeeping attained through service at the national and international levels," said Ban.
Mood was head of the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization which monitors Middle East truces from 2009 until 2011. He was also twice part of the international force in Kosovo between 1999 and 2002.
Mood joined the Norwegian army in 1979 and served as a peacekeeper in civil-war stricken Lebanon in the late 1980s, while moving up the ranks to become Norway's chief of staff in 2005.
He has degrees from the U.S. Marine Corps University and the NATO Defense College in Rome.
The general has not spoken publicly since he was nominated by Ban, but highlighted the "abyss of suspicion and violence between the Syrian regime and the opposition" in a recent interview with Norwegian media.
Mood said that when he was asked to lead the advanced team: "It was an easy choice to say yes."
"It's worth making the effort," he added about the mission and the peace plan that Annan agreed with the Assad government. "The Syrian people deserve to have an opportunity."
Mood faces immediate challenges over Western doubts about whether the Syrian government will let the monitors work. Shelling in Hama this week took place despite the presence of two U.N. monitors.
Western nations have expressed strong doubts about the dangers and poor prospects for the observer mission. The United States, Britain and France have all said U.N. sanctions will have to be considered if the violence does not halt.
The U.N. is also scrambling to meet Security Council demands to speed up the deployment. The peacekeeping department initially said that it would take a month to get the first 100 military officers in place.
Syria has blocked one proposed monitor already based in Damascus.
Diplomats said it has also threatened to refuse any who come from a Western-Arab coalition of countries, the Friends of Democratic Syria, that has backed opponents of Assad. The group includes the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey -- all vocal opponents of Assad.