Syria can still be saved, says Kofi Annan

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Despite leaving his post as Special Envoy to Syria yesterday (2 August), former UN Secretary-General said that the country can still be saved from the worst calamity of a bloody civil war, but ‘that requires courage and leadership.'

Writing in the Opinion pages of the Financial Times today (3 August), Annan offered some “departing advice” on handling the situation in Syria, while underlining the gravity of the situation more firmly.

Although the Nobel laureate admitted that it remains unclear how Syria government can be brought down through force alone, he pointed to how the mass movement, born out of the desire for civil and political rights, has lost its opportunity to bridge Syria’s communal division, which led to increased violence.

He stressed that a united international community was required in order to ensure a peaceful transition, citing the April 12 ceasefire as a positive example. But he blamed the lack of sustained international support to move the country towards a transitional governing body with full executive powers.

Annan said his efforts to promote unity were thwarted by “finger-pointing and name-calling” in the Security Council. He asked for “leadership… to overcome the destructive lure of national rivalries,” expounding that joint action requires collective efforts by all countries.

Russia, China and Iran, countries which have supported the Syrian regime, "must make concerted efforts to persuade Syria’s leadership to embrace political transition,” reads the op-ed.

For the countries supporting the opposition, including the US, UK, France, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Annan believes they must push the opposition to embrace an inclusive political process.

There is no doubt, concurs Annan, that Bashar al-Assad must leave office, but he added that he must not be the sole focus, and attention must be paid on measures and structures to secure a peaceful transition, calling this the most serious issue.

“None of this is possible, however, without genuine compromise on all sides,” he stressed.  Syria could still be saved if the six-point peace plan is implemented and if permanent members of the Security Council, including Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama show courage and leadership.

The EU has regretted the resignation of Kofi Annan, whom has invested an enormous amount of time and personal dedication to his difficult and dangerous assignment, said EU foreign chief, Catherine Ashton.

Ashton reiterated that the six-point plan remains the best hope for the people of Syria, and any further militarization of the conflict by any of the parties can only bring greater suffering to Syria, its citizens, and the region as a whole. 

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