Annan Asks for UN Action on Syria

Former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Anna, Geneva, Switzerland, March 16, 2012.
Former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Anna, Geneva, Switzerland, March 16, 2012.
Margaret Besheer

The U.N. and Arab League's chief peace envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, called on Security Council members Friday to end their stalemate and decide what to do to pressure Syria into ending its deadly crackdown on dissent.

In a briefing from Geneva, the former U.N. secretary-general said he is sending a team to Damascus next week to discuss a plan to deploy international monitors. Diplomats say Annan discussed his plans in a video briefing to the Council on Friday, less than a week after his own meetings in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

After the briefing, Annan told reporters Syria's political turmoil needs to be handled carefully to avoid any "miscalculations" that could lead to a "major escalation" that could impact the entire region.

“I think it is a conflict in a region of the world that has seen many, many traumatic events," he said. "I think we need to handle the situation in Syria very, very carefully."

Asked if the government and opposition would agree to speak with each other, Annan said the activists he met, although angry and frustrated over the government crackdown, are eager to get talks going and resolve the issue politically and peacefully.

Western diplomats say they hope Annan's mediation will accelerate efforts to pass a U.N. resolution condemning Assad's bloody crackdown on dissent. Russia and China have twice vetoed previous resolutions condemning Syria.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Syria:

Syrian state media released a statement on Friday ahead of the closed Security Council meeting, saying the Damascus government has pledged its cooperation with Annan in the hope of finding a "political solution" to the crisis. The Foreign Ministry statement again blamed unspecified "terrorists" and foreign interference for much of the deadly violence in Syria.

Annan met with Assad last Saturday and Sunday. He outlined proposals to end the fighting, provide humanitarian aid and begin political dialogue.

Note: VOA has revised its figures based on information complied by UNOSAT via death toll figures from and the Violations Documenting Center. This change reflects a shift in the numbers. Because of the difficulty of monitoring and reporti
Note: VOA has revised its figures based on information complied by UNOSAT via death toll figures from and the Violations Documenting Center. This change reflects a shift in the numbers. Because of the difficulty of monitoring and reporti

Rebel fighters have been in retreat throughout Syria and a movement of opposition activists has been fragmented with dissent. But Western governments have been reluctant to arm the Syrian opposition, for fear of further inflaming the situation.

Thousands of opposition protesters took to the streets in over a dozen towns and cities across the country Friday to demonstrate against the Syrian government. The rallies took place despite a government military offensive in many areas, and a siege by government forces in others.

Internet video showed crowds of protesters in several flashpoint districts. Opposition activists waved signs calling for “immediate foreign intervention.”

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebel soldiers clashed with government forces overnight in towns near Damascus. VOA cannot confirm events shown in the videos since most foreign correspondents are not being allowed into Syria.

Syrian state media announced that Iran is sending several planeloads of humanitarian aid to the Syrian Red Crescent Society. U.S. officials say Iraq is allowing Iran to fly military supplies to Syria over its airspace.

Iran sends aid

Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami, of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California, says few details about Iran's aid to Syria are available. He says Assad has sought assistance from Iran and its ally, the Hezbollah faction in Lebanon.

"I think he's getting good aid from Iran and from Hezbollah, because Iran and Hezbollah are committed to this fight," Ajami said. "The Iranians are helping him with software, and with knowledge they can shop [send] abroad, which is the knowledge they acquired in the summer of 2009, destroying the[ir] Green Movement.”

Turkey wants buffer

With thousands of Syrians fleeing into Turkey to escape the violence, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicates Turkey is considering intervening inside Syria to protect those refugees.

Erdogan said a buffer or security zone is being looked at, but other ideas are also under consideration. One of his senior ministers said late Thursday that a buffer zone offering protection to civilians fleeing the violence could extend as far as 10 kilometers into Syria.

During the past few days alone, thousands of Syrians have streamed in to Turkey. New camps to house more than 20,000 people are under construction, but the head of the Turkish Red Crescent estimates that up to 500,000 Syrians could eventually seek sanctuary in Turkey.

Ankara, once a close ally of Damascus, is now taking a leading role in diplomatic intervention in the Syrian crisis.




Edward Yeranian in Cairo, Dorian Jones in Istanbul and wire services contributed to this report.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: mervin
March 19, 2012 6:18 AM
The problem is the world will never trust UN at all because it does not serve the world very well,its under few countries influence and it only serve them only.

by: Cha Cha Cohen
March 18, 2012 4:57 AM
Thanks to Kofi Annan, for delegating to UN. So far the world has not seen any honest work done by UN. Everybody hope that they deliver an honorable task! The world is watching!

by: mr roh
March 17, 2012 3:29 AM
sorry for Kofi Annan' role

by: Mecury
March 16, 2012 11:09 PM
Please Mr Annan what can International Monitors do at this stage when
thousands of people have already lost their lives and the deterioration continues, please be realistic in your thinking for the people of Syria.

by: joe
March 16, 2012 10:01 PM
Turkey May Create Buffer Zone in Syria for Refugees ?why not in turhey?

by: JR
March 16, 2012 4:07 PM
Assad pledges his government hopes a solution for that grave situation; but, as it doesn't happen, he's going to continue killing the women, the children and anyone who will cross his way. Great!

by: Jana
March 16, 2012 3:08 PM
If Syria's allies are involving themselves by providing more weapons and promoting more violence, why can't the UN involve themselves and help the desperate Syrians pleading for help! It's gone too far and no one has taken action!

To All: there's a petition to try and get the UN to do something about this madness - let's generate a lot of emails their way and spread the word

by: Samar
March 16, 2012 12:13 PM
SHAME ON UN....SHAME on the International Community ....SHAME on the US....Shame on all the humanity !

by: hayatte
March 16, 2012 11:52 AM
Based on reports from arabic channels no demonstrations took place in Damascus, Aleppo and Derra. Some took place in Homs. Concerning M Annan I'm not suprise by what he said. Indeed, whatever the syrian government will do the so-called international community will refuse to listen what they want is Syria to become the next Lybia with islamists into power. in case you still don't know we take our orders from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. What a shame.

by: Concerned American
March 16, 2012 9:33 AM
Everyone must realize by now that despite their protests, Russian, Iran, and Hezbollah have been actively supporting the Assad regime with technical, material, and diplomatic support. Russia will continue to stall the UN and supply Assad with arms and ammunition, Iran will continue to provide technical expertise on repression, murder, torture, etc., and Hezbollah will support Syria from Lebanon, by assisting Assad's security apparatus in identifying dissidents and possibly even murdering them.
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