Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who was explaining reasons for resigning as the United Nations and Arab League’s Joint Special Envoy for Syria, on August 2 in Geneva, was asked by a reporter whether a new mediator who has yet to be named, will succeed where he failed. Annan shot back: “Let me say that the world is full of crazy people like me, so don’t be surprised if someone else decides to take it on.”
“I am sure,” he told journalists, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “will find somebody who could perhaps even do a better job than I have done,” news agencies reported. These crises are never static, he said, pointing out that it is a dynamic situation. And as the situation evolves, there may be other plans, other approaches that may work quite effectively, Annan added.
True, the world is full of “crazy people”. But you don’t see many coming forward. This is because power politics and vested interests of individual nations and group of nations have taken an upper hand over the basic needs of the common man and woman. Furthermore, both the Government of Syria and the armed opposition – backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – continue to rely on weapons, not diplomacy, in the belief that they will win through violence.
“The increasing militarization on the ground and the clear lack of unity in the Security Council, have fundamentally changed the circumstances for the effective exercise of my role,” said Annan who took on the role of Joint Special Envoy for Syria five months ago in order to seek a peaceful solution to the crisis, an end to the killings of civilians, the human rights abuses, and a path towards a political transition.
“Yet the bloodshed continues, most of all because of the Syrian government’s intransigence, and continuing refusal to implement the six-point plan, and also because of the escalating military campaign of the opposition – all of which is compounded by the disunity of the international community.
“At a time when we need – when the Syrian people desperately need action – there continues to be finger-pointing and name-calling in the Security Council.
“The Geneva Communiqué, endorsed by the Action Group for Syria on 30 June, provided an international agreement on a framework for a political transition. This should have been automatically endorsed by the Security Council and something the international community should have built on.
“Without serious, purposeful and united international pressure, including from the powers of the region, it is impossible for me, or anyone, to compel the Syrian government in the first place, and also the opposition, to take the steps necessary to begin a political process.”
On August 3 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon once again voiced his regret over the divisions that have paralyzed action in the Security Council, adding that the immediate interests of the Syrian people must be paramount over any larger rivalries of influence.
“The conflict in Syria is a test of everything this Organization stands for,” he told the meeting. “I do not want today’s United Nations to fail that test.”
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported August 3 that more and more people are being forced to abandon their homes to seek safety as the violence continues, with hundreds of thousands having already fled to neighbouring countries.
“Those most difficult to aid – as many as 1.5 million – remain in Syria, uprooted and taking refuge in host families or makeshift shelters. Many others are trapped, fearing the risk of being caught up in fighting or targeted during escape,” UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming told a news conference in Geneva.
UNHCR, through the help of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, continues to deliver basic materials to enable families to set up makeshift homes, but access to people in need remains the most significant problem.
“With insecurity rising dramatically in Aleppo, terror is gripping the population and humanitarian aid is desperately needed,” said Fleming, who added that, in Damascus, explosions were witnessed in several neighbourhoods and violence is spreading.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) stressed the need to protect children, who continue to bear the greatest brunt of the ongoing tragedy in Syria.
Indeed, “crazy people” alone are in a position to realise that while fighting for freedom from oppression, as the armed opposition in Syria claims to be doing, everything must be done to protect children and innocent women and men. This applies also to the Government in Damascus as well.
“Crazy people” alone will realise that mind sets dominated by violence as a tool of preserving or snatching power must give way to peace oriented mind sets that are determined to shed all kind of violence. – R. Nastranis