Ban urges world powers to support Brahimi
UNITED NATIONS LAKHDAR BRAHIMI, a veteran Algerian diplomat, will take over from Kofi Annan as the international envoy on the Syria conflict, the United Nations said on Friday.
UN leader Ban Ki-moon appealed to the divided international powers to give “strong, clear and unified” support to the new envoy.
Annan announced he was resigning this month, complaining about the lack of international support shown for his six month campaign to make President Bashar al Assad and opposition fighters end their hostilities.
Brahimi, 78, has vast experience as a conflict troubleshooter.
He is a former Algerian foreign minister and also a UN envoy in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks, and in Iraq after the 2003 invasion. Brahimi helped end the Lebanese civil war in the 1980s, negotiating with the Syrian government of the time.
UN deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey said Brahimi would come to New York “soon” for talks. Annan is to step down on August 31.
“The violence and the suffering in Syria must come to an end,” Ban said in a statement released by his spokesman.
“The secretary general appreciates Brahimi’s willingness to bring his considerable talents and experience to this crucial task for which he will need, and rightly expects, the strong, clear and unified support of the international community, including the Security Council,” the spokesman added.
Russia, Assad’s main ally, and China have vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions on Syria, accusing western nations of only seeking forced regime change.
Brahimi has been in prolonged talks with Ban on the role and at times there has been doubt whether he would take the post.
Seeking to distinguish himself from Annan, Brahimi will be known as the Joint Special Representative instead of Joint Special Envoy. But he will still act for the United Nations and the Arab League even though Assad’s government has refused to recognize Arab League involvement in the mediation.
He issued a statement last Friday calling on the Security Council to overcome its bitter divisions on Syria, where activists say more than 23,000 people have died in the past 17 months.
“The UN Security Council and regional states must unite to ensure that a political transition can take place as soon as possible,” Brahimi said then.
“Millions of Syrians are clamoring for peace. World leaders cannot remain divided any longer, over and above their cries,” he added.
Diplomats said Brahimi had sought a sign of “strong support” from the Security Council before accepting.
In a letter to Ban on Thursday, the 15 Security Council members said they “reiterated their support to your good offices and to the Mission of the joint special envoy for Syria.” But in a new sign of the international divisions over the conflict, western and Arab nations boycotted a meeting called by Russia in New York. Russia postponed the meeting.
Russia invited the countries which attended a June 30 Geneva meeting of an international action group on Syria.
Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said his government had wanted to discuss a possible appeal to Assad and the opposition to end the fighting.
But the United States, Britain, France and Arab nations Qatar and Turkey told Russia they would not attend, diplomats said. Only China and the United Nations accepted the invitation to attend. Iraq was the only Arab nation to express an interest in the meeting, diplomats said.