U.N. deputy mediator on Syria Nasser al-Kidwa resigns

The Syrian government has repeatedly called for the removal of Nasser al-Kidwa from the Brahimi’s team. (Reuters)

Published: Updated:

Deputy U.N. mediator on Syria Nasser al-Kidwa told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday that he was resigning, after repeated calls from the Syrian government for him to be removed.

United Nations confirmedKidwa's “intention to leave his current position, effective this week.” “He has indicated to the Secretary-General his willingness to serve the United Nations in other capacities, should the Secretary-General wish,” according to a U.N. statement.

Reuters however quoted diplomatic sources as saying that Kidwa “has been sacked.”

Kidwa, a former foreign minister of the Palestinian authority and a nephew of Yasser Arafat, was appointed as a deputy to Brahimi’s predecessor Kofi Annan in March 2012, and continued in the role under Brahimi.

His departure comes after the first week-long session of talks, chaired by Brahimi, between the Syrian government and the opposition, ended on Friday. Brahimi has asked both sides to return for more talks on. Feb 10.

Diplomats had previously said Kidwa’s role was the subject of friction just before the Geneva talks began, since the delegation representing President Bashar al-Assad had asked for him to be removed.

But, as rumors swirled that he had been sidelined, Kidwa showed up, sitting behind his boss Brahimi for the day of speeches that launched the talks on Jan. 22 in Montreux.

U.N. sources and Arab diplomats said that the Damascus government had always objected to Kidwa, who was nominated by the Arab League to the joint mediation team.

“The Syrian government has always said, from the beginning, they would prefer Nasser is not there. Mostly because he used to be with Palestinian leadership,” a U.N. source said.

The episode, according to a senior opposition negotiator, showed that “Brahimi’s main goal is to achieve a deal. He does not care if he has to sacrifice Kidwa. He also wants to get as many concessions as possible from both sides.”

Diplomats say there are no obvious candidates to replace Brahimi, 80, if he were to step down from the job of running the Syria talks.

[With Reuters]