United Nations: The United Nations peace envoy for Syria threw in the towel after failing to start a meaningful dialogue, as France accused Damascus of continuing to use chemical weapons.
In a double blow to the already frozen peace process, Lakhdar Brahimi announced his resignation yesterday at UN headquarters as French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius spoke in Washington.
Fabius accused Bashar al-Assad’s regime of resorting to banned chemical weapons 14 times in recent months, despite having agreed to hand-over its deadly stockpile to international monitors.
“How much more destruction is there going to be before Syria becomes again the Syria we have known?” Brahimi asked he confirmed weeks of rumors that he was stepping down.
Brahimi, who took over from the previous UN peace envoy in August 2012, said it was “very sad that I leave this position and leave Syria behind in such a bad state.”
The veteran Algerian diplomat, backed by the US and Western allies, had coaxed Assad and Syria’s fractious opposition to attend peace talks in Geneva earlier this year.
But negotiations broke down after only two rounds amid bitter recriminations. Meanwhile, the war slipped into a fourth year with an estimated 150,000 dead and millions of refugees.
“He has faced almost impossible odds,” Ban said of his 80-year-old envoy, promising to replace him.
Ban blamed the failure to find peace on “a Syrian nation,Middle Eastern region and wider international community that have been hopelessly divided in their approaches to ending the conflict.”
Separately, Fabius told reporters in Washington that the 14 reported incidents showed that “in recent weeks, new, smaller quantities of chemical arms have been used, mainly chlorine.”
A UN watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is overseeing the removal of Syria’s toxic arms, has sent a mission into the war-torn country to investigate.