Syria: Kofi Annan steps down (+video)
Citing the Syrian government's intractability, increasing violence and the international community's lack of consensus, former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan announced his resignation. He says there is still a chance for Syria to avoid the worst, 'if the international community can show the courage and leadership necessary.'
The resignation of Kofi Annan, the point man for international efforts to bring peace to Syria, emphatically confirmed what events on the ground had already been making clear: The country’s fate is far more likely to be decided by force than by negotiations.
The former U.N. secretary-general’s announcement Thursday that he was ending his attempt to negotiate an end to the conflict came amid a sharp increase in fighting that began after a bomb killed four top security aides to President Bashar Assad last month.
While government forces subsequently pushed insurgent bands out of the capital, Damascus, they are now locked in what could be a decisive battle for the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s commercial hub and most populous urban center.
“Most people have concluded that this is not going to be settled by talk at the U.N., but by developments on the ground,” said Robert Malley, a former Clinton administration official now with the International Crisis Group think tank.
In comments to reporters Thursday, Annan voiced an opinion he had never before uttered publicly — that, as part of the solution he had been seeking for Syria, Assad would have to go.
“The transition meant President Assad would have to leave sooner or later,” Annan said in Geneva.
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