UNITED NATIONS — Kofi Annan’s plan to curb the violence in Syria hit a dead end this month, another casualty of an escalating conflict that shows no signs of abating.
But Annan’s failure may have taken another toll: on the reputation of a career peacemaker and, by extension, on confidence in the power of diplomacy to resolve what is turning out to be one of the most intractable crises to grow out of the Arab Spring.
World leaders and U.N. experts have commended Annan for showing the courage to take on what they term a diplomatic “mission impossible.” But among Syrian activists and Arab critics, he has been vilified as a shill for President Bashar al-Assad. Many of those close to Annan fear his legacy is at risk, and that it is time for him to confront reality and step down.
“I feel very sorry for Annan, not because I’m an old loyalist, but because he has been dealt this hand,” said a senior U.N. official involved in Syria diplomacy, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to comment candidly. “If I were him, I would be seriously thinking about resigning. Why keep banging your head against a brick wall when you’ve become a hated figure in social media around the world. And for what?”
That bitter assessment reflects a conviction among sympathetic observers that Annan is set to be a scapegoat to shoulder the blame for key powers, including the United States and its Arab and European allies, who have been unable to persuade or compel Assad to cease the killing, and Russia and China, who have blocked efforts at the United Nations to punish Assad for his conduct.
Read more | 31 July 2012