UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations Friday announced that veteran Algerian diplomatic troubleshooter Lakhdar Brahimi will replace former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as the UN-Arab League Special Representative for Syria amid escalating violence for in that country.
“The violence and the suffering in Syria must come to an end,” the spokesman said in making Brahimi’s announcement.
Brahimi, 78, will have a slightly altered title, Joint Special Representative for Syria, instead of the envoy. His appointment was agreed to by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby, del Buey said.
“Diplomacy to promote a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Syria remains a top priority for the United Nations,” del Buey said.
“More fighting and militarization will only exacerbate the suffering and make more difficult the path to a peaceful resolution of the crisis which would lead to a political transition in accordance with the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people,” he said. Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister, was expected to arrive in New York next week to meet with the secretary-general and discuss plans for a fresh approach to the Syria conflict, which the United Nations says has killed over 18,000 people. Del Buey said Ban also thanked Annan, who accepted the job of Joint Special Envoy for Syria six months ago, “for his selfless efforts and contributions to the march for peace in Syria.”
Annan, who is stepping down at the end of August, has said his Syria peace plan was hampered by a divided and deadlocked UN Security Council.
He was especially frustrated by the deadlock between the five permanent council members. Russia, backed by China, repeatedly vetoed Western- and Arab-backed resolutions that criticized the Syrian government and threatened it with sanctions, saying the United States, Europe and Gulf Arabs were seeking regime change.
The Western powers have in turn accused Russia of propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government. They have also accused Syria’s ally Iran of providing military aid to Assad.
Russia says that the reason it vetoed the resolution condemning the Syrian government was because it fears that such measures have become a trigger for regime change rather than the protection of civilians.
Brahimi, 78, has served as a UN special envoy in a series of challenging circumstances, including: in Iraq after the US invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein; in Afghanistan, both before and after the end of Taliban rule; and in South Africa as it emerged from the apartheid era.