World Bulletin / News Desk
Veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi has agreed to replace Kofi Annan as the international mediator on Syria, though he intends to take a fresh approach as the 17-month-old conflict slips deeper into civil war, U.N. sources said on Thursday
Annan, a former U.N. secretary-general and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is stepping down at the end of August after six months in the job. He said his Syria peace plan was hampered by a divided and deadlocked U.N. Security Council.
Diplomats told Reuters that Brahimi, who had been undecided for days about whether to accept the offer of the post from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, did not want to be seen as a mere replacement of Annan but wanted a reconfigured title and fresh approach to his mandate as a peace broker.
"He has agreed to take the post but with an amended title; he has new ideas about the approach to take," a U.N. source told Reuters on condition of anonymity, adding that Ban accepted that. Two Security Council diplomats confirmed the remarks.
U.N. officials said it was not clear when an official announcement would be made. Annan's title was joint special envoy for the United Nations and Arab League.
It remains unclear what Brahimi's formal link with the Arab League, if any, will be, diplomats said. They said Brahimi would be based in New York, unlike Annan, who is based in Geneva.
Syria had only accepted Annan as a U.N. representative of the United Nations, not the Arab League, which suspended Syria's membership due to the escalating violence between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebels determined to oust him.
Brahimi, a veteran U.N. troubleshooter, has demanded "strong support" from the Security Council for efforts to secure a negotiated peace, envoys said.
A source familiar with the situation said that if Brahimi took the job as the new U.N.-Arab League mediator, he would not continue with Annan's "failed approach" to the conflict but would seek a fresh strategy.
Many U.N. diplomats say that Annan's six-point peace plan remains a good departure point for any mediation effort.
Last week Brahimi made clear he wanted an end to the international deadlock on Syria.
"The U.N. Security Council and regional states must unite to ensure that a political transition can take place as soon as possible," Brahimi said in a statement published on the website of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders committed to peace and human rights.
"Millions of Syrians are clamoring for peace," Brahimi said. "World leaders cannot remain divided any longer, over and above their cries."
Annan was frustrated with the deadlock between the five permanent Security Council members. Russia, backed by China, repeatedly vetoed Western- and Arab-backed resolutions that criticized Damascus and threatened it with sanctions, saying the United States, Europe and Gulf Arabs were seeking regime change.
Brahimi, 78, has served as a U.N. special envoy in a series of challenging circumstances, including in Iraq after the U.S. invasion; in Afghanistan both before and after the end of Taliban rule, and in South Africa as it emerged from the apartheid era.
Pope’s visit coincides with 70th anniversary of launch of diplomatic relations between Egypt, Vatican
Decision follows Agramunt's March visit to Syria, and meeting with President Bashar al-Assad
Recently-appointed governor of southern Abyan province comes under fire while en route to Aden
Syrian Democratic Forces largely made up of PKK/PYD members, security officials say
The 80-year-old pontiff is due in Cairo around 1400 (1200 GMT) and his 27 hours on Egyptian soil will include a meeting with the grand imam of the Al-Azhar mosque, sealing a recent improvement in relations between Catholicism and the Sunni branch of Islam.
The GCC was formed in the wake of Iran's 1979 revolution and includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.
Russia's military said a day after the attack that Syria's air defences would be boosted.
Ayman Nour was a candidate in the 2005 presidential election
Israel has not confirmed or denied an attack on Damascus early on Thursday morning
Houthis, allies yet to comment on reported air attack in southwestern Taiz province
In a report ahead of an international donor conference next week, it said Thursday that foreign aid alone cannot rescue the stagnant Palestinian economy without practical changes and Israeli cooperation.
But his visit comes as Al-Azhar, which runs one of the world's oldest universities, is under fire from critics within Egypt who say the Muslim institution has itself become part of the problem.
A loud explosion has been heard with a fire reported near Damascus airport
Saudi authorities claim to foil attack by Shia Houthi militia in kingdom’s southwestern Jazan region
He said the analysis of samples taken at the scene of the April 4 attack in Khan Sheikhun showed "there is no doubt that sarin gas was used".
The Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the meeting was cancelled after Gabriel decided to go ahead with talks with Israeli rights groups Breaking The Silence and B'Tselem.