News / Middle East

    UN Syria Envoy Resigns

    Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League for Syria Kofi Annan gestures during a news conference after the meeting of the Action Group on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, June 30, 2012.
    Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League for Syria Kofi Annan gestures during a news conference after the meeting of the Action Group on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, June 30, 2012.
    VOA News
    Kofi Annan is stepping down as U,N.-Arab League peace envoy for Syria, United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon announced Thursday as battles raged throughout Syria.
     
    After months of shuttle diplomacy, Annan has failed to produce a breakthrough in Syria's 17-month-long crisis  His diplomacy, including a cease-fire brokered in April, has failed to stop fighting between rebels and government forces.

    Ban said a search for a replacement has begun.
     
    “My consultations with the League of Arab States Secretary-General are under way with a view to the prompt appointment of a successor who can carry on this crucial peacemaking effort,” he said. “ I remain convinced that yet more bloodshed is not the answer; each day of it will only make the solution more difficult while bringing deeper suffering to the country and greater peril to the region.”

    Kofi Annan's Six-Point Peace Plan
     
    • A Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people.
    • A U.N. supervised end to armed violence by all parties in Syria.
    • Timely humanitarian assistance in all areas affected by fighting.
    • Increasing the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained people.
    • Ensuring freedom of movement for journalists.
    • Respecting freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully.
    The secretary-general admitted his envoy’s efforts have not worked.
     
    “Both the government and the opposition forces continue to demonstrate their determination to rely on ever-increasing violence,” he said. “In addition, the persistent divisions within the Security Council have themselves become an obstacle to diplomacy, making the work of any mediator vastly more difficult.”

    Syria-government allies Russia and China repeatedly blocked action in the Security Council to stiffen penalties against the Syrian regime. Russia said Thursday that it regrets Annan's decision to quit.

    Meanwhile, Syrian rebels have used a captured tank to shell a military base in the northern city of Aleppo, as government forces pounded rebel strongholds in the city with tank and artillery fire.

    The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the government shelling left seven people dead. The Britain-based group also says cell phone and Internet service is being gradually restored in Aleppo after being cut on Wednesday.

    x
    Activists say a security force raid in Damascus on Wednesday left dozens of people dead.  Syrian state media said the operation targeted "terrorists," a reference to the rebels.

    Another opposition activist group, the Local Coordination Committees, said fighting killed six others in the flashpoint city of Homs. The group also reported warplanes flying over Daraa.

    Assad has urged his security forces to "step up the fight" against the rebels trying to push him from power.

    A Pentagon spokesman says U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Jordan's King Abdullah have discussed what he called the "intolerable acts" of the Syrian regime and the prospects for a political transition in Syria. Panetta is in Jordan as part of a regional tour.

    Special Report - Arab Spring: The Evolution of Revolutions

    International reaction

    Russia and China have vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria but the General Assembly resolutions are non-binding and cannot be vetoed.

    Also, U.S. sources told western media that President Barack Obama signed an order earlier this year allowing the Central Intelligence Agency and other U.S. agencies to provide support to the rebels.

    The National Security Council declined to comment to VOA about the report

    The United States has stepped up the rhetoric against Assad. U.S. officials condemned Assad's message calling on his armed forces to keep fighting while his own whereabouts remain unknown.

    "We think it’s cowardly, quite frankly, to have a man who’s hiding out of sight be exhorting his armed forces to continue to slaughter the civilians of his own country," said U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell.

    "We think it’s really despicable to be exhorting his armed forces to continue this slaughter and this bloodshed," he said.

    The Syrian leader has not been seen since unknown rebels assassinated four members of his inner circle in a Damascus bombing last month. On Wednesday, he failed to appear to mark his country's Armed Forces Day, instead issuing a written statement.

    Humanitarian needs

    The bloody 17-month uprising in Syria has forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes and left millions in need of humanitarian aid.

    United Nations agencies say up to three million people in Syria will need food, crops and livestock assistance in the next year.

    A statement Thursday by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the U.N. World Food Program says the findings are based on a joint mission the two agencies conducted in June with Syria's agriculture ministry.

    The mission found that the Syrian agricultural sector has lost $1.8 billion this year because of the conflict, with crops such as wheat and barley badly affected.

    "While the economic implications of these losses are quite grave, the humanitarian implications are far more pressing," the WFP's representative in Syria, Muhannad Hadi, said in Thursday's statement. "The effects of these major losses are first, and most viciously, felt by the poorest in the country. Most of the vulnerable families the mission visited reported less income and more expenditure - their lives becoming more difficult by the day."

    'Most vulnerable'

    Of the three million people in need of assistance, the U.N. agencies say some 1.5 million need "urgent and immediate" food assistance during the next three to six months, while close to a million people need crop and livestock assistance.

    "The most vulnerable families in Syria depend entirely or partly on agriculture and farm animals for food and income. They need emergency support, like seeds, repairs to irrigation systems, animal feed and healthcare," said FAO Representative in Syria Abdulla BinYehia.

    "If timely assistance is not provided, the livelihood system of these vulnerable people could simply collapse in a few months' time," he said. "Winter is fast approaching and urgent action is needed before then."

    According to the report, farmers have been forced to either abandon farming or leave crops unattended due to insecurity and difficulties such as lack of labor and fuel.

    Wheat harvesting has been delayed in Daraa, rural Damascus, Homs and Hama, and the mission says part of the crop could be lost without assistance.

    Timeline: Syrian uprising
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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Kadi Kabila from: Congo
    August 02, 2012 1:27 PM
    Dear VOA, its time for Israel to unleash her fury... please tell her Africa loves you mighty Israel... we dance in your honor
    In Response

    by: Giuseppe from: Canada-USA
    August 02, 2012 6:54 PM
    ...you know... when I read comments like yours, (Kadi Kabila), I don't feel that bad about the idea of "total nuclear obliteration" of some area(s) on this planet. With your attitude, "that" might just happen.
    Just be careful, "your area(s)" is not one of those (if you you could have the UNLIKELY CHOICE).

    by: hMh from: UK
    August 02, 2012 11:48 AM
    the incompetent Annan... Idiot of the month... what a disgrace this guy is...
    In Response

    by: Giuseppe
    August 02, 2012 10:33 PM
    Hey, Kadi Kabila! On a second reading of your comment of earlier today... "Africa loves you mighty Israel"..... Mighty WHO?
    At 16 Billion US Dollars a year, any "Arlequin" can play "mighty.
    Most regrettable is that they (Illuminati and Zions) for their pockets and egos, play with innocent lives being killed every day, every where....
    In Response

    by: JOHN from: Australia
    August 02, 2012 6:54 PM
    I give more credit to Annan than Camron, Mitt Romeny, Bush Blair etc and I am sure this whole Syria conflict was started by Isreal and the west. Isreal is the biggest liar, what is it that makes them think they are better than anyone else. The whole conflict in the middle east is Isreal arrogance fault. My prediction is they will burn and it will be their own fault
    In Response

    by: Giuseppe from: Canada-USA
    August 02, 2012 6:47 PM
    I suggest you save some "name calling"... you never know - you may need some for... (say...) yourself.

    by: Anonymous
    August 02, 2012 10:18 AM
    "We think it’s really despicable to be exhorting his armed forces to continue this slaughter and this bloodshed,"

    How on earth can Assad run a country if he cannot face his very own people. What does Assad think, he can run the country in the future from a television and video cameras? Must feel disgusting when you have to hide from your own people and cannot face them. How on earth does he expect he can continue to be the ruler of Syria? How can he expect to represent the Syrian people? He can't... Syrian people are NOT like Assad, he doesn't represent anyone but himself.

    Assad is destroying his own country, all he has to do is just go, and save the integrity of Syria.

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