Former Algerian foreign minister and longtime U.N. diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, known as a strong-willed, independent broker, has agreed to replace former Secretary-General Kofi Annan as peace envoy to Syria.
Brahimi, who served as a
U.N. envoy in Afghanistan and Iraq, formally accepted the post and will
resume efforts to find a diplomatic solution to Syria’s crisis, said
Eduardo del Buey, deputy spokesman for Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
violence and the suffering in Syria must come to an end,” del Buey
said. “The Secretary-General appreciates Mr. 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.”
announced earlier this month that he would resign on Aug. 31 as joint
U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, after failing to broker a cease-fire as
the country descended into civil war. The U.N. says at least 18,000
people have been killed since March 2011.
Brahimi will travel to New York and then Cairo in the coming days.
to The Associated Press by telephone from Paris, Brahimi said “I
realize it’s an extremely complicated and very, very difficult mission.”
He said he hopes military intervention isn’t necessary, and that
talking about a military option is akin to admitting diplomatic failure.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed Brahimi’s appointment,
saying he “will continue the pursuit of an end to the conflict and a
peaceful transition in Syria.”
“My message to special envoy
Brahimi is simple: The United States stands ready to support you and
secure a lasting peace that upholds the legitimate aspirations for a
representative government of the people of Syria,” Clinton said. “And
to the Syrian people: you are not alone. The international community
remains fully committed to a Syrian-led political transition leading to a
pluralistic political system representing the will of the people.”
78, who emerged last week as the leading candidate to replace Annan,
brings a long record of working in the Arab and Islamic world. He served
as Algeria’s foreign minister from 1991-93 and joined the United
Nations in 1994, where he served in a variety of high-profile posts
until he retired in 2005.
As an Arab League envoy, Brahimi helped negotiate the end of Lebanon’s civil war.
U.N. diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were
not authorized to speak publicly, said Brahimi had delayed taking the
job as Syria envoy because he wanted a signal of support from the
council. What kind of support Brahimi wanted remains unclear.
Araud, the French U.N. ambassador and current Security Council
president, has called the special envoy post something of an “impossible
mission” and said he could understand why someone would take their time
before deciding to take it.
Annan said when he announced his
resignation on Aug. 2 that the Security Council’s divisions prevented
the united approach needed to stop the fighting in Syria. Russia and
China have used their veto power three times to block strong Western-
and Arab-backed action against President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a written statement Saturday that
China welcomed Brahimi’s appointment and that his rich diplomatic
experience makes him a suitable choice. China reiterated its stance
against military intervention and asked Brahimi to find political
solutions to end the conflicts.