What's In Blue

Posted Thu 15 Mar 2012

Briefing by Special Envoy for Syria

Tomorrow (16 March) the UN-Arab League Special Envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, is expected to brief Council members in consultations via video-conference on his recent mediation efforts. (On 13 March, after the head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA], Valerie Amos, briefed on Syria and the Sahel, the UK suggested that Annan brief members, and it seems there was no opposition to the proposal.) Annan was in Damascus from 10-11 March where he met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He went on to Doha where he met with Qatari officials and then to Turkey to meet with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as well as members of the Syrian National Council. (Turkey will host the next Friends of Syria meeting on 2 April.)

While in Damascus Annan began discussions on a proposal to bring an end to the crisis in Syria. It appears elements under discussion include an impartial mechanism to monitor a cessation of all violence; humanitarian and media access; support for Annan’s mission to launch political dialogue; and the release of detainees. Syria’s initial response to these proposals, which Annan received on 14 March, seemed to signal its commitment to work with the Special Envoy and cooperate with Amos on an assessment of humanitarian needs. However, finding quick agreement on the remaining elements of the proposal may prove more difficult. It seems Annan is expecting a further response from the Syrian government.

On Tuesday (13 March) Amos briefed Council members on her visit to Syria from 7-9 March. She said the Syrian government had agreed to conduct a preliminary humanitarian assessment with the support of the UN which was expected to begin at the end of this week. Council members may be interested in getting an update from Annan on whether the assessment has begun.

Annan’s briefing tomorrow will likely influence whether the P3 and Morocco will resume negotiations with Russia and China on a draft resolution. (There have been no negotiations on the draft since 8 March.) Council members appear to want to get a sense of whether a resolution at this point will be helpful in increasing pressure on the Syrian government or if it would hamper Annan’s negotiations. (The draft resolution emphasises that the crisis should be resolved peacefully and demands a cessation of all violence; humanitarian access; release of detainees; and withdrawal of all Syrian military and armed forces monitored by an impartial mechanism. It also supports the UN and Arab League role in facilitating a Syrian-led political transition and Annan’s work as the Joint Special Envoy.)

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