Damascus Delays the Approval of U.N. Envoy Ahead of Elections

Sources say Damascus and its allies suggested the European Union's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana

Sources have revealed that the Syrian government has not given approval for Martin Griffith, the representative of the Arab-International envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, as an envoy to Syria. The government is waiting for a "complete change" in the task of the envoy after the presidential election at the beginning of next month, so that the negotiations will be based on "new political rules".

 

The U.N. appointed Griffith, who worked with the former envoy, Kofi Annan, as an envoy to Damascus after the resignation of Mokhtar Lamani as Brahimi's representative. The sources said that Damascus is betting currently on a "new task", which will be assigned to Brahimi's successor as "an envoy of the Secretary General of the United Nations, not an Arab-International envoy, and the task of the new envoy will not be the application of the Geneva I statement, which requested the formation of a mutually accepted transitional government with full executive powers, but he will work on the suggestion of forming a government of national unity in the light of the results of the presidential elections and the victory of Assad".

 

The sources pointed out that the Syrian government has also expressed its "dismay" at Griffith's support for "cross-border operations" to deliver humanitarian aid to Syrians after the failure in the implementation of Resolution 2139.

 

The same sources said that Damascus "expelled" a number of non-governmental organizations because they played a role in the delivery of aid across the Turkish-Syrian border. The government also threatened to close all U.N. offices in Syria, including the Office of Humanitarian Affairs headed by Yakoub Hillo.

 

London encouraged the U.N. to do "cross-border operations" without the approval of Syrian authorities, but the suggestion was not supported by the international organization and opposed by Russia and China.

 

The sources also confirmed that Damascus and its allies suggested the European Union's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, to hold the position of envoy to the Secretary General, while other countries suggested the former Tunisian Foreign Minister, Kamel Morjane for the job, based on his experience in international organizations before assuming the position in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the toppled President, Zien al-Abeddine Ben Ali.

 

The sources noted that Damascus and Tehran accept the formation of a "government of national unity after the presidential election to prepare for internationally-monitored local elections, after reaching an agreement for a ceasefire in Damascus and Homs, then a parliamentary election to amend the constitution and transfer some of the powers of the president to the Prime Minister".

 

Damascus and Tehran believe that Solana is able to proceed with this plan, pointing out to the success of Iranian leadership in the negotiations on a truce with the Islamic Front in Homs which was "a fundamental building block on this perception".

 

In contrast, the sources said there was a concentration of Western countries and forming the main nucleus of the "Friends of Syria Group" and on the formation of a "transitional government" and the application of Geneva I statement, giving "the Secretary-General's envoy" more space for regional communications.

 

The sources added that the Western countries are working to "change the balance of power and provide political, military and diplomatic support to the opposition" and the "Syrian National Coalition" during the ministerial meeting of the "Group of London" in the British capital next week.

 

The sources also added that both the regime and its allies, as well as the opposition and the countries supporting it, work to "strengthen the military and negotiating position of each party" before the start of the political process, expected in July or August. Secret connections are continuing between Iran and Western countries over Syria and between officials in the Syrian regime and the opposition.

 

Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer

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