Turtle Bay

Lakhdar Brahimi tells U.N. diplomats he plans to resign as Syria envoy

Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria has informed senior U.N. diplomats that he intends to resign in the coming weeks, marking the end of another  doomed U.N. diplomatic effort to end a bloody civil war that has left well over 70,000 dead in Syria, according to U.N.-based diplomats. The decision pitches the world’s ...

Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria has informed senior U.N. diplomats that he intends to resign in the coming weeks, marking the end of another  doomed U.N. diplomatic effort to end a bloody civil war that has left well over 70,000 dead in Syria, according to U.N.-based diplomats.

The decision pitches the world’s main diplomatic initiative on Syria into a state of crisis at a time when the United States and its allies are weighing a response to reports to new intelligence reports indicating that Syria may have used chemical weapons against his people. It comes as Ake Sellstrom, the U.N.’s newly appointed chemical weapons inspector, arrived in Washington for meetings with U.S. officials on the Syrian program.

The United States has sought to persuade Brahimi to put off his plans to step down until after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry concludes a May 7-8 visit to Moscow for meetings on Syria and other matters with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Martin Nesirky, chief  spokesman for  U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon declined a request to confirm Brahimi’s resignation plans. But a U.N.-based diplomat from a government that has been briefed on the matter by Brahimi said he had confirmed his plans. "He said he’s going to resign," said the diplomat. But he said he would delay a formal announcement to allow the U.N. to "arrangement for a transition."

The U.N. secretary general, meanwhile, has been in discussions with the U.N.’s five major powers — Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States — about the future of U.N. diplomatic efforts after Brahimi’s departure.

Brahimi, a veteran U.N. troubleshooter who has led major peace efforts from Afghanistan to Iraq, has voiced increasing despair in recent weeks over the dwindling prospects for a political transition in Syria. He has faulted the Syrian government and the armed opposition for failing to recognize the futility of a military victory and the need for a negotiated settlement.

"I am personally, profoundly sorry that my own efforts have produce so little," he told the Security Council in a closed-door meeting last month. "I apologize to the Syrian people for having, in the end, done so little for them during these past eight months and to you, in this council, for having had only sad news to report to you."

One senior Western diplomat who met with Brahimi in recent weeks said that the U.N. envoy had expressed frustration with a March 6 decision by the Arab League to adopt a resolution authorizing the Syrian National Coalition, the main Syrian opposition group, to represent Syria at the Arab League.  The resolution, he explained to the Security Council last month, constituted a recognition that "no dialogue or negotiations are possible or necessary."

Follow me on Twitter @columlynch.

Colum Lynch is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @columlynch

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola