According to diplomatic sources, the joint UN–Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, expressed his desire to step down from his role with the Arab League on Wednesday, citing lack of proper support from the organization.
Observers speculate that the Arab League’s decision to grant the opposition National Coalition Syria’s seat at the Doha summit led to Brahimi’s position being undermined. The envoy himself has said that he would prefer to resign from his position with the Arab League and maintain his role with the UN.
Diplomats representing Russia, the US and the UN have urged Brahimi to reconsider his resignation, speculating that it would represent a major setback to what little is left of the Geneva-based peace talks.
While rifts within the Security Council itself—with Russia and China supporting the Assad regime and the US, Britain and France supporting the opposition—have complicated UN attempts to resolve the Syrian crisis, both sides have called on Brahimi to stay.
During a recent UN press conference, questions were asked about Brahimi’s desire to step down. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon confirmed he would be meeting Brahimi later on, but did not wish to comment further. A spokesman for the secretary-general confirmed that Brahimi will address the UN on Friday in a private session that will be closed to the press.
Brahimi, considered one of the elder statesmen of international diplomacy, previously served as UN special representative for Afghanistan, Haiti, South Africa and Iraq. He succeeded Kofi Annan as joint UN–Arab League envoy to Syria.
Brahimi began his political life in Algeria, campaigning for independence from France. He assisted the Arab League in ending Lebanon’s civil war. In addition to this, Brahimi chaired the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, which produced the well-known Brahimi Report.
Brahimi encouraged the UN to take a stronger stance on Syria, saying that Assad stepping down was both legitimate and essential. Although he is well known for dealing with difficult circumstances, Brahimi has previously admitted that his mission as UN–Arab League envoy is nearly impossible, and that he was resigned to the fact that the international community may choose to blame him or his predecessor, Kofi Annan, following both men acknowledging their inability to influence events in Syria.