World Bulletin / News Desk
Veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi is expected to replace Kofi Annan as the U.N.-Arab League joint special envoy for Syria barring a last-minute change, diplomats said on Thursday.
The former Algerian foreign minister, who has a long history as a diplomatic troubleshooter, will have his work cut out for him in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad is using his security forces to try to crush a 17-month-old pro-democracy rebellion.
Annan, a former U.N. secretary-general and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said last week he would step down as the special envoy because he was unable to do his job with the U.N. Security Council hopelessly deadlocked over Syria.
Brahimi's appointment could be announced as early as next week but the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there are sometimes last-minute changes if a key government has concerns about the choice or the candidate has misgivings.
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.
Syria, however, may present an unusually vexing assignment, in part because international action to try to end the violence has been stymied by the disagreements between the five veto-holding permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
While the council united in April to approve the deployment of 300 monitors to Syria to observe a failed ceasefire as part of Annan's peace plan, Russia and China vetoed three other resolutions that criticized Syria and threatened sanctions against Damascus.
In announcing his resignation, Annan explicitly blamed "finger-pointing and name-calling" at the Security Council for his decision to quit, but suggested his successor may have better luck.
Assad's forces have killed more than 15,000 people since March of 2011 in a sustained effort to end the anti-government rebellion, some Western leaders say. Damascus says the rebels have killed several thousand members of its security forces.
Assad has suffered a series of blows in recent weeks, including the defection of his prime minister, Riyad Hijab, on Monday and the assassination of four of his top security officials last month.
He named a new prime minister, Wael al-Halki, on Thursday as government forces pushed rebels back from a strategic district in Aleppo, Syria's commercial hub and largest city.
In accepting Annan's resignation, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon thanked him for having taken on "this most difficult and potentially thankless of assignments."
A spokesman for Ban, who is expected to formally name Annan's successor, was not immediately available for comment.
More than 50 people have died so far in the violence that has deepened fears post-war Libya is slipping into lawlessness
Russia has in the past denied it is directly involved with the rebellion in its western neighbor, but the United States and its European allies accuse Moscow of arming and encouraging the uprising
"Gaps remain between the parties, so his focus is on finding a formula that both sides can accept," said the U.S. official
Since July 7, Israel has pummeled the Gaza Strip – from air, land and sea – with the ostensible aim of halting Palestinian rocket fire.
Pools of blood lay on the ground and on students' desks in the courtyard of the school near the apparent impact mark of the shell,
More than 75,000 made the trip in the first six months of the year, landing up in Italy, Greece, Spain and Malta, the UNHCR agency said. Their number included 10,500 children
The commander of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea last month said he had proposed deploying a THAAD advanced missile-defence system to the country
A diplomat in the Malian capital Bamako said that the north of the country - which lies on the plane's likely flight path - was struck by a powerful sandstorm overnight.
Female asylum seekers with infants recently asked for bigger rooms so their children can learn to walk and crawl, as they are currently "confined in the extreme heat" in metal containers measuring 3m by 3m.
Shortly before the trial, Evans made a deal with prosecutors and admitted he had carried out more than 1,000 hacks involving some 200 victims
Ban's meeting with Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani underscored the 83-year-old cleric's vast sway in Iraq, where Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is considered a polarising figure
The "360 degree view" will allow German intelligence officers to watch U.S. and British agents on German soil and marks a shift from the previous focus on Russians, Chinese and Iranians
"As this campaign goes on and the civilian casualties in Gaza mount, Western public opinion is becoming more and more concerned and less and less sympathetic to Israel," Hammond told Sky News
Senior Defence Ministry official Amos Gilad said: "These are not prisoners of war. These are detainees. These are not people who are recognised under international treaties. They are murderers and terrorists."
Two gunmen on a motorbike approached the aid workers' taxi and opened fire
The UK has repeatedly been told by the European court of human rights that the law banning inmates from voting breaches their rights.