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UN's Envoy to Syria Plans to Quit

Syria peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is on the verge of quitting amid growing frustration at deadlocked efforts to end the conflict.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 5/2/2013, 5:42 AM

Syria peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi
Syria peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi
AFP photo

Syria peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is on the verge of quitting amid growing frustration at deadlocked international efforts to end the worsening conflict, diplomats said Wednesday, according to the AFP news agency.

Brahimi is "itching to resign but being persuaded to hang on for a few more days," said one UN Security Council diplomat. "He has told everyone that he wants to leave, there is little hope that he will stay," an Arab diplomat at the United Nations told AFP.

The 79-year-old former Algerian foreign minister was named in place of former UN leader Kofi Annan as the UN-Arab League envoy on August 17 last year. He recognized at the time that he faced an uphill battle.

Brahimi has been criticized by the Syrian opposition and President Bashar al-Assad's government said last week it would no longer cooperate with him.

Like Annan before him, Brahimi has been increasingly frustrated at the failure of the major powers to agree to a plan on ways to end the two-year-old conflict which has left more than 70,000 dead.

Russia has vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions seeking to increase pressure on Assad, while the United States, Britain and France have stepped up aid to opposition groups in recent months.

The Arab League decision to recognize the opposition Syrian National Coalition as the legitimate government of Syria was the final straw for the veteran UN troubleshooter, diplomats said, according to AFP.

"He wants to resign because he feels that the Arab League has taken themselves in a direction which is a bit different from the UN," said the Security Council diplomat.

Damascus in the past accused Brahimi of "flagrant bias" against it, after his Brahimi's comments that a three-stage road map Assad had proposed  to negotiate a "political solution" with approved elements of the opposition was "one-sided".