Annan quits envoy role in Syria

The news comes as the conflict continues to escalate, with more than 17,000 people killed over the past year and a half. The mission's failure could pave the way for an increased U.S. role. It comes on the heels of President Obama's signature on a secret order that permits the CIA and other agencies to help the rebels, but stops short of arming them. Obama also announced Thursday that he has approved an extra $12 million in U.S. humanitarian assistance for people affected by the violence in Syria, bringing the total to more than $76 million.

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Annan, himself a former U.N. secretary general, was named to the post on Feb. 23, with the United States's blessing. As recently as late June he said he was “optimistic” world powers would get behind his proposal for a unity government acceptable to President Bashar Assad's regime and the rebels trying to overthrow it. But the double-veto by Russia and China last month to condition the renewal of the U.N. observer mission to Syria with the threat of sanctions appears to have been the last straw.

"The persistent divisions within the Security Council have themselves become an obstacle to diplomacy," Ban said, "making the work of any mediator vastly more difficult."

Ban said Annan deserved "our profound admiration for the selfless way in which he has put his formidable skills and prestige to this most difficult and potentially thankless of assignments."

The full statement is below:

New York, 2 August 2012 - Statement by the Secretary-General on the Joint Special Envoy for Syria

It is with deep regret that I have to announce the resignation of the UN-League of Arab States Joint Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Kofi Annan.

Mr. Annan has informed me, and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Mr. Nabil El Araby, of his intention not to renew his mandate when it expires on 31 August 2012.   

I wish to express my deepest gratitude to Mr. Annan for the determined and courageous efforts he has made as the Joint Special Envoy for Syria.

Kofi Annan deserves our profound admiration for the selfless way in which he has put his formidable skills and prestige to this most difficult and potentially thankless of assignments. He has worked within the mandate provided to him by the General Assembly and with the cooperation of various Member States. We have worked closely together these past months, and I am indebted to him and his team for all they have tried to achieve. I will continue to draw on his wisdom and counsel, and on the work of the Office of the Joint Special Envoy.

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. 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.

Tragically, the spiral of violence in Syria is continuing. The hand extended to turn away from violence in favour of dialogue and diplomacy - as spelled out in the Six-Point Plan - has not been not taken, even though it still remains the best hope for the people of Syria. Both the Government and the opposition forces continue to demonstrate their determination to rely on ever-increasing violence. 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.

The UN remains committed to pursue through diplomacy an end to the violence and a Syrian-led solution that meets the legitimate democratic aspirations of its people. This can only succeed – indeed any peacemaking effort can only prosper – when the parties to the violence make a firm commitment to dialogue, and when the international community is strongly united in support.