Kofi Annan, the special envoy to the United Nations and Arab League, submitted his resignation, after months of unsuccessful attempts to resolve the Syrian conflict, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday. In a statement, Ban said Annan informed him “of his intention not to renew his mandate” when it expires at the end of August. Annan tried to achieve a basic cease-fire in the conflict that began as a peaceful uprising against President Bashar al-Assad 17 months ago, but has now turned into what the Red Cross says is a civil war.
Annan, 74, is one of the world’s most seasoned diplomats, with a Nobel Peace Prize to his name. Despite a pledge from al-Assad on March 27 to abide by Annan’s peace plan, which called for the government to withdraw heavy weapons and troops and anti-Assad fighters to drop their guns, the Syrian government never implemented the measure. Annan also failed to secure a more forceful threat against Assad from the Securiy Council, due to the veto powers of Russia and China, who opposed any additional measures they believed would lead to external military intervention in Syria. “Tragically, the spiral of violence in Syria is continuing,” said Ban in a statement announcing Annan’s resignation. “The hand extended to turn away from violence in favor of dialogue and diplomacy — as spelled out in the Six-Point Plan — has not been taken, even though it still remains the best hope for the people of Syria.”