NEW YORK — A senior United Nations official said Wednesday that Kofi Annan's replacement as the U.N.-Arab League peace envoy for Syria faces an impossible job. But French Ambassador Gerard Araud, who is president of the Security Council this month, noted that the United Nations can serve as a neutral channel for possible negotiations.
Araud said any candidate for the position of peace envoy to Syria will face a deeply divided Security Council, as well as fighting in Syria with no immediate prospects for a political transition. Araud said that makes the job nearly an impossible mission and that he understands why people are hesitant to take on the role of Syrian peace envoy. He expressed hope that circumstances will change.
“At some moment, for example, there could be the realization by the regime [the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] that you won’t crush the opposition, that you will have to negotiate," said Araud. "And if it reaches this moment, I think the U.N. is the only channel for which we could have a negotiation."
On another front, Araud expressed condolences on behalf of the Security Council to the government of Bangladesh and to the family of a policeman from that country who was killed on Sunday while participating in the U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission, or UNAMID, in Sudan's Darfur region. Another UNAMID policeman was wounded in the attack by unidentified assailants.
High-Profile Defectors from Syria
Prime Minister Riad Hijab defected to Jordan on August 6, two months after taking top post.
Nawaf Fares, Syria's ambassador to Iraq became first Syrian envoy to defect on July 11, 2012.
Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, highest ranking military officer to abandon Syrian government on July 6, 2012.
Colonel Hassan Hammadeh flew his MiG-21 warplane to neighboring Jordan during a June, 2012, training mission and was granted asylum.
Imad Ghalioun, member of Syria’s parliament, left country in January, 2012, to join opposition.
Adnan Bakkour, former attorney general of Hama, appeared in video in late August 2011 announcing he had defected.
Araud, who alternated speaking in English and French, said Security Council members reiterated their support for UNAMID and called on all parties in Darfur to cooperate with the mission.
The Security Council has called on the government of Sudan to swiftly investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.