Annan Quits Saying Syria Peace Deserved More Supportإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan said on Thursday he was stepping down as international envoy for Syria, complaining that his April peace plan had not received the support it deserved.
As the Syrian army deployed fighter jets against rebels armed with tanks around the commercial capital Aleppo, Annan regretted an "increasing militarization" of the 17-month conflict.
He also bemoaned the lack of consensus on the U.N. Security Council, where China and Russia last month vetoed a resolution that would have threatened sanctions against Syria if it failed to act on Annan's battered peace blueprint.
"I did not receive all the support that the cause deserved," Annan told a hastily scheduled press conference in Geneva after his resignation was announced by U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon at U.N. headquarters in New York.
"You have to understand: as an envoy, I can't want peace more than the protagonists, more than the Security Council or the international community for that matter."
Annan said "continuous finger-pointing and name-calling" in the Security Council had hindered his attempts to implement his six-point peace plan that was supposed to start with a reciprocal ceasefire from April 12 that never took hold.
"The increasing militarization on the ground and the lack of unanimity in the Security Council fundamentally changed my role," he said.
But he predicted that President Bashar Assad would go "sooner or later" and did not rule out his successor having more luck or success, despite his warning there was "no Plan B".
"These crises are never static... as the situation evolves there may be other approaches," he said.
Despite Annan's criticism of the "finger pointing" at the United Nations, Washington was quick to blame Annan's resignation on the refusal of Beijing and Moscow to back resolutions against Damascus.
"Annan's resignation highlights the failure at the United Nations Security Council of Russia and China to support meaningful resolutions against Assad that would have held Assad accountable," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Russia said it regretted Annan's decision and insisted it had always supported him "very strongly."
"We understand that that's his decision; we regret that he chose to do so," U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters.
Later on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Annan's resignation a "great shame" that should not deter efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
"Kofi Annan is a man of great merit, a brilliant diplomat and a very honest person, so it is a great shame," Russian news agencies quoted Putin as saying prior to his departure from a brief visit to London.
"But I hope that the international community's efforts will remain focused on ending the violence," he added.
Russia had identified Annan's attempts to open direct dialogue between its Soviet-era ally Damascus and the armed Syrian opposition as the only way to stop 17 months of violence that activists believe has claimed 20,000 lives.
Annan's original six-point peace plan was endorsed by Russia in March and used by Moscow as the primary argument against backing any sanctions against Assad's regime.
Russia also backed a new Annan-endorsed initiative at a heated June 30 summit in Geneva that provided for a political transition in Syria while making no explicit call for Assad to step down.
Moscow argues that Assad remains the most popular politician in Syria and has branded Western and Arab calls for his ouster one-sided attempts to impose regime change.
The Syrian foreign ministry expressed "regrets" at Annan's announcement and accused "countries which seek to destabilize Syria" of having "hindered and continuing to hinder" his mission.
In New York, Ban paid tribute to Annan for his efforts in the "most difficult" of assignments, adding that he would step down at the end of the month and the search for a successor had already begun, in cooperation with the Arab League.
"I wish to express my deepest gratitude to Mr. Annan for the determined and courageous efforts he has made as the Joint Special Envoy for Syria," Ban said.
"Kofi Annan deserves our profound admiration for the selfless way in which he has put his formidable skills and prestige to this most difficult and potentially thankless of assignments," he added.