Kofi Annan Quits As U.N. Envoy to Syria

Citing increased bloodshed, U.N. "finger-pointing," former UN chief quits mission.


Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will quit his post as the agency's chief negotiator on the conflict in Syria, the Reuters reports. At the press conference announcing his departure, Annan said the increasing violence in Syria and bickering in the U.N. Security Council "fundamentally changed the circumstances for the effective exercise of my role."

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"At a time when the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger-pointing and name-calling in the Security Council," he said from Geneva, Switzerland.

As the U.N.'s Arab League envoy, Annan attempted to orchestrate peace in Syria through a six-point plan that was adopted, but mostly ignored, by both the government and rebel forces. The country's escalating military campaigns, when compounded with disunity in the Security Council, were to blame for the plan's failure.

"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," said Ban Ki-moon, U.N. Secretary General. "The hand extended to turn away from violence in favor of dialogue and diplomacy—as spelled out in the six-point plan—has not been taken, even though it still remains the best hope for the people of Syria."

Ban said Annan would continue as envoy through the end of the month. Ban said he would confer with the members of the League of Arab States to determine a successor "who can carry on this crucial peacemaking effort." Both Ban and Annan acknowledged the difficulty of the assignment.

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"The world is full of crazy people like me. So don't be surprised if Secretary General Ban Ki-moon can find someone who can do a better job than me," Annan said.

Susan Rice, the United States' ambassador to the U.N., said Annan did all he could to quell the violence in Syria.

"When the Security Council failed to heed Mr. Annan's repeated calls for collective and significant consequences for non-compliance with its prior resolutions, those members who blocked this action effectively made Mr. Annan's mission impossible," Rice's statement read.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney echoed Rice's sentiment with regards to the Security Council's role in Annan's resignation, according to BBC News. He said Russia and China's failure "to support meaningful resolutions against Assad that would have held Assad accountable" were partly to blame for the resignation.

Seth Cline is a reporter with U.S. News and World Report. Contact him at scline@usnews.com or follow him on Twitter.