By Nurettin Yigit
Lakhdar Brahimi, Algeria’s former foreign minister and a veteran diplomat, has confirmed that he will replace Kofi Annan as the international mediator on Syria with an altered mandate.
Annan is stepping down at the end of August after six months in the role because he said his Syria Peace Plan was hampered by a divided and deadlocked UN Security Council. He was frustrated with the deadlock between the five permanent Security Council members. Russia and China repeatedly vetoed Western and Arab backed resolutions that criticized Damascus and threatened it with sanctions, claiming that the United States, European countries and Gulf Cooperation Council were all seeking regime change
Syria had only accepted Annan as a U.N. representative of the United Nations, not the Arab League, which suspended Syria’s membership due to the escalating violence between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebels determined to oust him.
The 78-year-old Brahimi has served as a U.N. special envoy in a series of challenging circumstances; including in Iraq after the U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, in Afghanistan both before and after the end of Taliban rule, and in South Africa as it emerged from the apartheid era.
Brahimi will take the job as the new UN-Arab League mediator, although he would not continue with Annan’s “failed approach” to the conflict but would seek a fresh strategy toward the 17-month-old conflict in Syria.