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Who Will Replace Kofi Annan?

By Pyotr ISKENDEROV (Russia)

Who Will Replace Kofi Annan?

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the UN and the League of Arab States joint peace envoy to Syria, announced his resignation before his tenure expires on August 31. The decision raised the issue of replacement. It’s already clear Annan didn’t fully comply with the instructions from Washington, Brussels and their Arab allies. In particular, neither he nor the UN observers on spot in Syria resolved to submit a report on the “crimes” committed by Syrian leadership that could serve as a pretext for outside intervention. Besides Washington and London still cannot forgive Annan for defining the US-UK led intervention in Iraq in 2003 as an illegal act. [1]

The traits of his personality hardly made him a successful international mediator no matter how hard one may wish him to be one. It’s enough to remember just some instances from his political career path.

Kofi Annan was UN Secretary General for ten years – since January 1 1997 to December 31 2006, the first black African to occupy this position. It was the bitter irony of fate that it was exactly the African problems that became a stumbling block he had to hit. In particular the self-determination of West Sahara and the bloody conflict in Central Africa.

Back in 1988 the UN Security Council (UNSC) adopted the resolution 621 that said it was “to authorize the Secretary General to appoint a special representative for Western Sahara and to request the Secretary General to transmit to it as soon as possible a report on the holding of a referendum for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara and on ways and means to ensure the organization and supervision of such a referendum by the United Nations in cooperation with the Organization of African Unity”. The referendum initially slated for 1992 was not held that year. Actually it never took place during the Kofi Annan’s term. The United Nations still doesn’t recognize the authority of neither the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic nor Morocco over the Western Sahara’s territory. That’s the only result we have now. It’s clear this kind of situation cannot last forever. It may aggravate tension again – especially in view of general instability in North Africa.

Central Africa is the region where interstate and interethnic contradictions are intertwined along with financial and economic interests of leading transnational corporations. That’s where the Kofi Annan’s peacemaking efforts failed to be a great success too. The peaceful accords were regularly broken. The UN languid activities aimed at putting a stop to use of local natural riches for financing war efforts called African World War, brought about no real results.

In 1988 Kofi Annan came out with a special report on causes of African conflicts. The special role of African governments supporting and even sometimes instigating conflicts in neighboring countries was emphasized. Besides the report stated that the control over natural resources ensured income for different groupings enabling them to continue hostilities.

But the situation didn’t change much during the ten years Kofi Annan headed the United Nations, the overall death toll of Congolese war, that started in 1998, has already risen to eight million.

Finally, the Cyprus settlement was one more issue on his agenda. In May 2004 the divided Cyprus was to join the European Union and then UN Secretary General submitted the country’s unification plan for referendum. It was repudiated by overwhelming majority of Greek Cypriots who saw the document as pro -Turkish. Cyprus joined the European Union without a solution to the frozen conflict. Again there were no laurels for Kofi Annan as an international mediator and peacemaker. Though by then he had already received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 together with the organization he was heading at the time.

Now the Syrian epic of former UN Secretary General is drawing to a murky end – and the issue of replacement is popping up. According to the information at hand, someone much more odious can take his place. The Kofi Annan’s personality was rather a reflection of UN global role being diminished in the contemporary world, an objective process under way. Former President of Finland Martty Ahtisaari, another Nobel Prize winner, is a key actor in implementation of “New World Order” plans. No doubt if he takes the position the process of forceful power change in Damascus would get a new powerful impetus unfolding in accordance with the USA, NATO, the European Union and the League of Arab Nations plans.

Like Kofi Annan the former President of Finland started his “peacemaking” activities in Africa (Namibia). It manifested in all its glory in Kosovo. There Ahtisaari played a key role in achieving the Kosovo’s independence – during the NATO bombings in Yugoslavia in 1999 as well as during the talks on the region’s ultimate status that he supervised. The recording of his conversations with former President of Yugoslavia Slobodan Milosevic leaked into media. They most clearly characterize him as an “impartial political mediator”: he started the meeting saying it was not arranged for discussions or talks. Milosevic asked what would happen if the Yugoslavs refused to sign the documents. In response Ahtisaari took a vase with flowers away from the table and eloquently stretched his palm along its polished surface. He said that’s what Belgrade would be like when carpet bombings of the city were launched. He repeated the gesture and said menacingly the very same thing awaited the Serbian capital. There was a minute of silence and then he added that the death toll would be half a million in less than a week. [2]

No wonder right after the ceasefire accord was signed the West positioned NATO as a key actor in Kosovo. John Keegan, a renowned British military historian and expert, said: “the war as a victory not just for air power but for the `New World Order’ that President Bush declared after the Gulf War.” [3]

Martty Ahtisaari chaired talks on final status of Kosovo. They started in 2006 (by the way he was a special envoy of Kofi Annan) and hardly had anything to do with talking. Ahtisaari took the side of Albanian separatists from the very beginning. He mentioned the Serbs as the people at fault for the Kosovo crisis and it was an ideological substantiation of his stance on the issue. Elitsa Kuryak, the current Serbian ambassador to Russia, remembers the negotiations supervised by Ahtisaari. On and on the Serbs came up with proposals and the Albanians said no each time. Nothing was accepted but the independence of Kosovo. Nenad Popovic, a National Assembly deputy, who knew how the events unfolded those days, confirms that the Albanians behaved like everything had already been decided. They never showed any interest in finding a compromise. [5]

The Western media outlets and think tanks like the International Crisis Group spread around the reports that said Kosovo became part of Serbia only in 1912, when the Balkan allies, first of all Serbia and Montenegro, took the territory by force. [6]

Will Ahtisaari get the position and become an “undertaker” of Syrian statehood? There is information the Western capitals were inclined to choose this option some time ago but had to pause due to tough opposition from Russia.

One of diplomats accredited at the United Nations HQ said Ahtissari is not part of the priority list now.

There are other candidates for the occasion – from former NATO Secretary General Xavier Solana (who gave an order to bomb Yugoslavia on March 24 1999) to former Spanish foreign chief Miguel Ángel Moratinos. [7] Vitaly Churkin, the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, has already let know that the Ahtisaari’s appointment is out of the question for Moscow. “Ahtisaari in deep… retired, “he said. [8] The incumbent UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has until now refused to discuss the issue of replacement and the corresponding scope of authority. He confines himself to murky reasoning like: “The conflict in Syria is a test of everything this organization stands for.” [9] Martin Nesirky, spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, let it understand his superior took into consideration the opinion of permanent members of the UN Security Council. He said it was normal wide scale discussions preceded such a high level appointment. [10]

Moreover, according to leaks from the UN HQ, the West is skeptical about the value of appointing a replacement Annan at all. Richard Gowan of New York University made clear that the U.N. had a role to play in improving the plight of civilians. «I doubt that any U.N. envoy can really prevent the current conflict getting worse, although the U.N. has an absolute obligation to keep up efforts to get humanitarian aid into the country alongside the Red Cross and Red Crescent,” he said. [11] In this case military and political decisions get out of the UN envoy’s authority to clear the way for the USA and NATO acting on their own.

This approach would allow the West to get around Russia and China, the UNSC’s veto-wielding members. To the contrary: Russia, China, South Africa and Pakistan, the Security Council members, support the idea of special envoy appointment. They see it as an important factor of the crisis management by political means. The only condition is that an impartial and unbiased person takes the job.

Meanwhile NATO is concentrating its forces along the Syrian borders. The UK and France are planning to send a joint naval group to Western Mediterranean. The composition of the task group from the British side includes Royal Navy ships: aircraft carrier Illustrious, landing platform dock assault ship Bulwark, destroyer Defender, a frigate and a submarine. France will be represented by aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and ships outposts. [12] It all very much resembles the preparatory phase of the operation against Yugoslavia in 1999. The only thing left to do is to organize the Syrian version of the massacre in Račak with the help of a new special UN Secretary General’s envoy or even without such.

[1] REUTERS 2048 080812 GMT
[2] Нова српска политичка мисао, 12.12.2008
[3] The Daily Telegraph, 04.06.1999.
[4] Kosovo mine in Europe? М., 2006. page.11.
[5]Vremya Novostei, 23.08.2006.
[6] www.crisisgroup.org
[7] REUTERS 1848 080812 GMT
[8] ITAR-TASS 06.08.2012 09:05
[9] AFP 031616 GMT AUG 12
[10] ITAR-TASS 062256 12 06.08.2012 22:59
[11] REUTERS 1848 080812 GMT
[12] INTERFAX 1537 090812 MSK 09.08.2012 15:38

Source: Strategic Culture Foundation 

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