Kofi Annan in Damascus 390.
(photo credit:REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri)
The US announced an infusion of humanitarian aid to Syria on Thursday, just as
the head of the UN-backed mediation effort between the country’s warring forces
Kofi Annan – a former UN secretary-general – as special UN
envoy to Syria, spent months mediating a ceasefire between Syrian President
Bashar Assad and the opposition forces that failed to take hold or show any
results on the ground.
Annan’s decision to abandon the role comes amid a
report by Reuters that the US is secretly helping the rebels.
US officials told Reuters that US President Barack Obama has signed a secret
order authorizing support for rebels seeking to depose Assad, though they did
not disclose the exact nature of the assistance other than to rule out the
provision of lethal weaponry.
The order, approved at some point earlier
this year and known as an intelligence “finding,” broadly permits the CIA and
other US agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust
A US government source also told Reuters that under provisions of
the presidential finding, the US was collaborating with a secret command center
operated by Turkey and its allies.
Publicly, the US on Thursday ramped up
its efforts to alleviate the suffering of civilians affected by the
The White House announced $12 million in additional
humanitarian assistance for a total of $76m. that the US has shelled out for
food, water, medical supplies and other necessities over the course of the
“The quickest way to end the bloodshed and
suffering of the Syrian people is for Bashar Assad to recognize that the Syrian
people will not allow him to continue in power and to step aside,” the White
House said in its statement, adding, “We will continue to work with the
opposition and our allies and partners to support an inclusive transition that
guarantees the Syrian people their universal rights.”
humanitarian crisis has served as a sign that the cease-fire Annan pursued
failed to materialize, with the violence only increasing on his
“Kofi Annan deserves our profound admiration for the selfless way
in which he has put his formidable skills and prestige to this most difficult
and potentially thankless of assignments,” UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-Moon
said, in announcing Annan’s resignation.
Talks are under way to find a
Annan blamed “fingerpointing and name-calling” at the UN
Security Council for his decision to quit, but suggested his successor may have
“There may be other plans, other approaches that may work
quite effectively,” he said, adding that at this stage, the focus should still
be on a political transition that means “Assad will have to leave sooner or
Russia and the US have clashed repeatedly at the Security
Council, with the US looking to hasten Assad’s departure and Russia standing by
its Arab ally.
Syria expressed disappointment that Annan was going, as
“We understand that it’s his decision,” Vitaly Churkin,
Russian ambassador to the UN, told reporters. “We regret that he chose to do so.
We have supported very strongly Kofi Annan’s efforts. He has another month to
go, and I hope this month is going to be used as effectively as possible under
these very difficult circumstances.”
Churkin added he was encouraged that
Ban was looking for a successor to Annan.
The UK, which, like America,
wants Assad to resign, said the move showed that the mediation process was not
The White House said Annan’s decision to quit had highlighted
Assad’s failure to meet his promise to abide by the cease-fire plan, and added
that it continued to believe that “Assad must go.”
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