Kofi Annan is a failure
Throughout the duration of UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan’s mission in Syria, we, and others like us, have said that his mission has failed, and that in order to protect the lives of the Syrians, Annan must declare so himself. In this regard, I wrote repeatedly stressing that Annan himself was not the failure, rather it was his plan that had been unsuccessful, as a result of the tyrant of Damascus, Bashar Assad.
But today, after three months of Annan’s mission, and the death toll in Syria — at the hands of the Assad regime — reaching 17,000, we must say that it is not only Annan’s mission that has failed, but that Annan personally must also be considered a failure, having granted Assad one opportunity after another. From the outset he has never said that Assad is untrustworthy and does not intend for any initiative to succeed, and this has been evident since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution 17 months ago. Annan in Syria has behaved like (Mustafa) Al-Dabi’s Arab League monitoring team, yet the difference between Al-Dabi and Annan is that the former wanted to appease Assad, whilst Annan wants to appease his political and diplomatic ego.
Annan does not even bother to engage with Syrian or Arab public opinion, he only speaks to the Western media, most recently the French publication “Le Monde.” Even though those dying are the Syrians, the crisis itself is in Syria, the Arab world is an active player and the Arab public has a real and sincere conscience with regards to the current events, Annan has not bothered to engage with the Syrian or Arab public over the past three months. During the recent Friends of Syria conference in Paris, the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed was right to say that Annan’s failure to attend that meeting, staying in Geneva instead, was shameful. Not only did Annan not bother to attend the Friends of Syria conference in Paris, despite the fact that there were representatives from nearly 100 Arab and Western states, but he also called for the participation of Iran in order to resolve the Syrian crisis, because it is an active player! This is pure political malleability, and I cannot use a kinder expression than that. The problem with some politicians, diplomats especially, is that they want to reach any form of result in order to say that they have created a solution, and if the solution is for the tyrant of Damascus to remain in power, and to reward Iran by granting it legitimacy to interfere in Syrian affairs, just like Washington granted it legitimacy in Iraq, then the Syrians will not accept this, and we as Arabs must also reject this openly, clearly and without compromise.
It is unfortunate, and infuriating, that Annan always asks: What is the alternative to his mission in Syria? Such talk is redundant. The alternative to his mission is for Russia and China to face up to the game that we are all aware Assad is playing. They must return to the Security Council and stop supporting the tyrant of Damascus. The fact that Annan’s mission has long since failed also means that the international community must now face its responsibility to stop the Assad killing machine, instead of granting the Syrian president opportunity after opportunity to kill unarmed civilians.
Therefore, today we say that not only has his mission failed, but Annan himself is also a failure, especially when he gives Assad one chance after another, and wants to give Iran a degree of legitimacy it does not deserve in Syria.
- The author is editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat.
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