When Kofi Annan was appointed as a special U.N. envoy to Syria, I had hastened to warn about him. I claimed that Annan was brought in to prolong the tenure of Assad regime. I said that this was the last comic act in the theater of the Arab League and the United Nations.
Annan quit the U.N. after serving as its secretary-general with a scandal involving his son who had allegedly played a role in the oil-for-food program with Iraq when economic sanctions were in place against the regime of Saddam Hussein.
After three months of futile efforts and more bloodshed, it was clear that Annan was virtually a dummy that was brought in to serve the interests of a group that wanted to split the international unity and save the Assad regime by quelling the Syrian revolution.
Now, things have become intolerable as far as this envoy was concerned to the extent where Annan lost his patience with the UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan when he criticized Annan. The minister said that it is disgraceful that the man who was entrusted to act as the U.N.’s envoy in Syria was absent at a major meeting on Syria in which representatives of nearly half of the governments in the world participated.
After this, Annan came out heavily against Al Nahyan in his latest interview with French daily Le Monde. In the interview, which showed his disposition clearly, Annan blamed Gulf states such as UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in clear terms. He said, “Very few things are said about other countries (meaning Gulf states) that send arms and money and weigh on the situation on the ground!” By this, he meant that they are arming the revolutionaries.
Annan was not at all bothered about putting into practice important elements of his initiative. He never called for prosecuting the Syrian regime which failed to stop military operations and pull back troops from cities. On the contrary, he asked the world to leave the people of Syria at the mercy of the oppressor.
In the interview, Annan ignored the world sentiment and presented his own arguments focusing on the criticism of Russia. “Focusing on Russia would disturb Russians too much. What surprised me was that most of the comments were focused on Russia while Iran was spoken about on a lesser degree!”
Singling out Russia in criticism was because it is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. As for Iran, it has no value as far as international decision-making was concerned. Had Russia not opposed, China also would not have been doing it because international intervention was inevitable to stop the genocide perpetrated by the Syrian regime forces since last summer. It was because of Russia and not because of Iran that the tragedy is going on in Syria where thousands of innocent people have already been killed and 1.5 million displaced.
Annan also called on inviting Iran to the negotiating table about the future of Syria. This would have been acceptable if the objective was to convince the Assad regime to carry out reforms. But we have passed this stage and now the only way to find a peaceful solution is to put an end to the regime without allowing it to do more harm. In this, Iran won’t play a positive role. Iran may have a future role if it was found later to be cooperating with the alternative government.
Annan then backed Russia's supportive position to Syria by refusing to intervene and stop the genocide by the forces of Assad. He said that Russia and China were deceived in Libya in the name of a “responsibility to protect" civilians. He said that was then turned into a process to change the Qaddafi regime. Annan is now forgetting the Libyan situation that warranted an international decision. The forces of Qaddafi had been carrying out the same operations of killing, destruction and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people just like what Assad is now doing in Syria. Qaddafi was not governing a safe country. On the contrary, Libya was in a bloodbath that had to be stopped to protect the civilians. Had the Security Council resolution not been there during that night, the Qaddafi forces would have destroyed the besieged city of Benghazi.
An international intervention in Syria has become imperative to protect the Syrian people as well as the region, in addition to stop dismantling the region and prevent the emergence of terrorist groups to fill the vacuum following Assad regime’s collapse.
The writer is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. The article was published in the Saudi-based Arab News on July 10, 2012