Kofi Annan: How a Mission Was Born and Died Away?
Monday, August 06, 2012
The resignation of the former UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, last Thursday, can be considered the most important among the recent political developments in Syria. Some analysts like Amin Hattit have argued that his resignation is prelude to foreign military intervention in Syria, while others like Tony Karon, the columnist of the Time magazine has considered it a sign of the structural inefficiency of the Security Council and the United Nations. On the other hand, after Annan’s resignation was accepted by Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, Saudi Arabia and its Western allies have been trying to get a new plan approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The plan asks for international military forces to be sent into Syria. At the same time, clashes have intensified in Aleppo, which is Syria’s second largest city after the capital, Damascus. In fact, the outcome of the ongoing conflict in Aleppo will mark a turning point in the course of Syria’s political developments. Due to high volume of investment made by other countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, on terrorist groups that are active in this city, purging Aleppo of armed groups and foreign mercenaries will deal a serious blow to domestic and foreign opponents of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This is why Turkey recently staged a military drill close to its border with Syria. And this is also the reason why the quality and quantity of arms and equipment sent into Syria by the Arab-Western anti-Syrian coalition has greatly increased. Developments in Syria are getting more and more complicated and this situation has made a clear forecast of the future turn of events in the crisis-hit country well-nigh impossible.
Kofi Annan’s resignation from a mission which he had already called “mission impossible,” was not totally unpredictable given the course of political developments in the Arab country. Although Annan has mentioned the Syrian government, the opposition and the UN Security Council as three main factors which brought his six-article peace plan to its doom, in reality, lack of correct understanding of the true nature of political developments in Syria by the veteran diplomat was the main reason which killed his plan when it was still nascent. Before resignation, the former secretary-general of the United Nations, wrote an article for the Financial Times in which he reemphasized on his six-article plan calling it the sole way out of the current dire situation in Syria. His proposed plan envisaged withdrawal of Syrian army forces and their heavy weapons from urban districts, complete halt on military operations against residential areas, a ceasefire between the Syrian government and opposition forces, immediate release of political prisoners and provision of relief aid to civilians in the conflict zones. A glance at Kofi Annan’s six-point plan will reveal that despite his admission of the complex nature of the crisis in Syria, the plan offers no logical solution to the problem save for a set of repetitive consideration. Inattention to the nature of the crisis and foreign players which play an axial role in the Syrian unrest can be considered the biggest weakness of Annan’s plan. In reality, Kofi Annan had been appointed by the West and Arab states which do not seek peace and tranquility in Syria, but only pursue to change everything in their own favor. The former UN secretary-general was a victim of this vicious approach.
Why Annan Accepted Syria Mission?
A review of Annan’s track records and the close relationship between him and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as well as his efforts for the final approval of the principle of responsibility to protect will reveal the main reason behind his appointment. As such, the main reason for the appointment of Kofi Annan as special envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League to Syria was to take advantage of his plan as a means of legitimizing foreign military intervention in that country. The principle of responsibility to protect was put on the agenda of the UN member states after bitter clashes in the African country of Rwanda back in 1994. Kofi Annan has been mentioned as one of the main players in development of that plan who also did a lot to get it under way. Twelve years later, in 2006, the United Nations Security Council approved the principle in two paragraphs (Paragraphs 138 & 139 of the World Summit Outcome Document).
According to Paragraph 138:
“Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”
Paragraph 139 says:
“The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the [UN] Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”
This principle was used as a ground to justify NATO intervention in Libya on behalf of the Security Council and during Russia’s war with Georgia as well. A major ambiguity about Annan’s six-point plan which aimed to establish peace or cease-fire between belligerent parties in Syria was that the plan only made clear references to the Syrian government as one of those parties. In reality however, apart from a minority of the Syrian opposition, there are foreign governments and insurgent groups involved in the Syrian crisis that had not been mentioned in Annan’s plan. This is another reason why such an incomplete plan could not have succeeded in finding a solution to the Syrian crisis.
Why Annan Quit?
There were a few reasons why foreign meddling powers were not able to use the model of military intervention in Libya against the Syrian government too. On the one hand, the Western-Arab coalition had failed to promote its plans at the UN Security Council due to insistence of China and Russia on defending Syria. On the other hand, despite a full-blown media war launched by such mass media as Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and CNN and false reports by major news agencies about developments on the ground in Syria such as the massacres in al-Houla and Deir ez-Zor, they failed to forge a global consensus against Damascus. Therefore, Kofi Annan’s mission also lost its utility as part of the Western-Arab puzzle which tried to apply the Libyan model to Syria.
Proposing new models for foreign intervention in Syria by Western think tanks, including the model used by the United States in Iraq in 2003 with the subsequent emphasis on troops surge in 2007, or the model used to attack Afghanistan in the 1980s can be assessed along the same lines. Kofi Annan’s farewell to his diplomatic mission in Syria can be considered the end of official diplomatic and political efforts for finding a solution to the crisis in Syria and a dangerous beginning to intensification of military tension between the two sides. A few days ago, Reuters reported that Russia is sending three warships to Syria. The upcoming days will be fateful days for the Middle East region and the balance of power between regional political alliances.
Key Words: Kofi Annan Resignation, Syria, Foreign Military Intervention, Bashar al-Assad, Mission Impossible, Opposition Forces, R2P, NATO, Rezakhah
Source: Khorasan Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review.Org
More By Alireza Rezakhah:
*Zilch: The Result of Istanbul Meeting on Syria: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Zilch_The_Result_of_Istanbul_Meeting_on_Syria.htm