Annan Departs from his Mandate |
Al Hayat - 13 July, 2012
Author: Hassan Haidar
Whatever pretexts UN-AL Envoy Kofi Annan might have to justify his visit to Tehran and his assertion that Iran has a “positive role” to play in resolving the worsening crisis in Syria, this represents a departure from the mandate granted him on the basis of the transition plan raised by the Arab League at the Security Council, and one that turns his efforts into merely killing time until developments on the field settle the course of his wavering mediation and the fate of the UN observer mission, which is in effect no longer being carried out.
The talks held yesterday by the Syrian National Council (SNC) delegation in Moscow have come to confirm the uselessness of Annan’s endeavors, after it became clear to members of the Syrian opposition that there had been no evolution, even slight, of the stance taken by Russia, which clings to maintaining Bashar Al-Assad in power. How then could Iran, which is up to its neck in defending the ruler of Damascus, in word and deed, be expected to be “positive” in dealing with any suggested transition that would lead to changing the regime?
Syria with its current leadership has represented the gateway for Iran to enter and to interfere in the affairs of the Arab World, in addition to providing it with political cover to impose its will and its allies in Lebanon and in Iraq. Is it then conceivable for it to abandon such an asset?
As for the plan for a gradual ceasefire, which Annan has agreed on with the Syrian President, it also represents a breach of his mandate and of the six-point plan, which he had laid out himself and had been approved by the Security Council and the Arab League – stating an immediate and thorough ceasefire, especially on the part of government forces; the withdrawal of the army from cities and populated areas; the release of political prisoners; and allowing all forms of peaceful expression.
It is difficult to believe that the Joint Envoy has not discovered the trick in Assad’s suggestion of a ceasefire first on the fronts experiencing the greatest violence, which would relieve his forces and allow them to eradicate the weaker centers of the uprising, one after the other – especially as it states that a period of three months would be needed to reach complete cessation of violence. Clearly Annan, who had declared in an interview to French newspaper Le Monde the failure of his plan, seeks to prolong his mission in any way possible and however meager the results might be.
Perhaps he is in order to do this exploiting the powerlessness to reach an agreement at the international level that would allow for truly initiating a transitional solution. Indeed, the disagreements that have appeared in explaining the “common grounds” that have come out of the Action Group’s Geneva conference on Syria have shown the need for him to persevere in his efforts, even if without any expectations, during this period of marking time. Indeed, the Russians and the Iranians both know that the Syrian opposition, in all its different strands, cannot accept a solution that would be based on Assad and his entourage remaining in power. On the other hand, the Americans and the Arabs both know that Assad cannot accept a solution that would be based on him stepping down as long as he still has enough strength to defend his regime.
Yet this does not justify the excess taking place in Annan’s efforts and his distribution of certificates of good behavior to Iran and to the Syrian President himself, just as it does not give him the right to adopt the point of view of one of the two sides of the conflict, after he had laid on the latter in his briefing before the Security Council the greater responsibility for the failure of his efforts.
Even if some believe that the period of non-settlement will last longer, and could stretch until after the US elections, which would justify the need for the presence of some kind of mediator, what is required of the United Nations and of the Arab League is for them to control their Joint Envoy, so that he may stop tinkering with the conditions of his mandate.