A malaise has settled over diplomatic discussions of the Syrian civil war at the United Nations. Last week, there was confusion over whether the U.N. had a replacement for Kofi Annan as envoy to Damascus. Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi had been offered the post, but it was unclear whether he would accept it.
The wars in Mali and Syria have followed very different trajectories over the past month. While Syria has become symbolic of international inaction, France’s use of force in Mali has shown that some Western governments are still willing to launch new interventions abroad. And while there have been no dramatic military shifts in Syria, French troops have pushed deep into northern Mali with growing speed.
The Obama administration signaled that it intends to set the diplomatic pace over Syria as the U.S. and Russia announced joint plans for a peace conference. This was not only an accommodating gesture to the Russians, who have made immense political capital out of the conflict, but also a setback for Britain and France, which have agitated for a more hawkish Western line, including arming the Syrian rebels.
If you take any interest in the Syrian war and international diplomacy, you may well experience a disturbing sense of deja vu this week. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to Moscow. His visit is part of a renewed American campaign to make Russia rethink its strategy of support for the regime in Damascus, which could culminate in talks between Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin at the June G-8 summit in Northern Ireland.
United Nations-Arab League Syria peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is on the verge of quitting amid growing frustration at deadlocked international efforts to end the worsening conflict, diplomats. Brahimi, who took over from former UN leader Kofi Annan in August last year, is “itching to resign but being persuaded to hang on for a few more days,” said one UN Security Council diplomat.
The Obama administration not only confirmed that it is “very likely” that the Syrian military has “used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria” but also added that “the United States and international community have a number of potential responses available, and no option is off the table.”
As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his advisers look for the resources for a new generation of missions, they will face pressure to cut costs and downsize existing missions -- even if that means leaving some fragile states’ problems unresolved.
In this exclusive interview with ECSSR Website Richard Gowan, talks about a range of issues related to conflict prevention and resolution. Gowan also sheds light on the progress on United Nations reforms, EU’s peacekeeping ambitions, ongoing conflict in Syria and possibilities of conflagration in the Korean peninsula. The interview was conducted on the sidelines of ECSSR’s 18th Annual Conference – The Future Warfare in the 21st Century.