Kofi Annan resigns
Kofi Annan has resigned from his post as the UN-Arab League peace envoy for Syria, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on August 2, 2012.
Mr. Annan asked that his mandate not be renewed when it expires August 31, 2012.
“I wish to express my deepest gratitude to Mr. Annan for the determined and courageous efforts he has made as the joint special envoy for Syria,” Mr. Ban said.
UNGA resolution adopted
The U.N. General Assembly on 3.08.2012 overwhelmingly adopted a Saudi-drafted resolution on Syria that expressed “grave concern” at the escalating violence but India was among the 31 nations that abstained.
The 193-member General Assembly passed the resolution that denounced Syria’s crackdown on its people and demanded that the country lockdown its chemical and biological weapons. The resolution also deplored “the failure of the Security Council to agree on measures to ensure the compliance of Syrian authorities with its decisions”.
The resolution got 133 votes in favour, while 12 countries voted against. Thirty one countries, including India, abstained.
An earlier draft of the resolution had provisions that demanded regime change; called on President Bashar Al-Assad to resign; and asked countries to place sanctions against the country for the violence and killing.
India was not in favour of these provisions and a senior member of Indian delegation had said that officials “worked over time” to get these demands dropped from the resolution.
Others countries like Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa too were not in support of the provisions demanding regime change and sanctions.
Indian Ambassador to the U.N. Hardeep Singh Puri had also held several rounds of discussion with his Saudi and Qatari counterparts over the provisions of regime change and sanctions in the resolution. Unlike a U.N. Security Council resolution, the General Assembly resolution is not legally binding. It is only moral and symbolic in nature. The resolution strongly condemns “the continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities and pro-governmental militias“.
Addressing the 193-member General Assembly before the vote on the resolution, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the violence and acts of brutality being reported in Syrian cities may constitute “crimes against humanity or war crimes”.
He said despite repeated verbal acceptances of the international envoy and six-point plan endorsed by the U.N. Security Council, the Syrian government and the opposition continue to rely on weapons and not diplomacy — believing that they would win through violence.
The Syrian crisis has escalated in the last 17 months when the uprising against President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime began.
More than 10,000 people have been killed and thousands others displaced by the fighting between government and rebel forces.
Efforts to restore peace and stability in the troubled nation were dealt a huge blow when the United Nations -Arab League envoy Kofi Annan announced that he was resigning from his post — six months after his efforts to end the violence and find a political solution to the Syrian crisis yielded no results.
Mr. Ban said the violence and bloodshed in Syria was “avoidable” if the Syrian government had from the beginning of the uprising not responded to peaceful demonstrations with brutal force, including mass round-ups and torture.
He said observers had predicted at the start of the conflict that unchecked spread of violence in Syria would lead to a rise of radicalisation, extremism and terrorism.
“The next step was also forewarned: a proxy war, with regional and international players arming one side or the other.”
“Now, we face the grim possibility of long-term civil war destroying Syria’s rich tapestry of interwoven communities. This would have tragic implications for Syria’s people and could affect stability across the region. We must not let this prediction come true,” Mr. Ban said.
He said mediation to solve the Syrian crisis can only succeed if there is a commitment to solving conflict through dialogue and real leverage to back it up.
Mr. Annan too had blamed a divided international community and U.N. Security Council for lack of action to stop the violence.
Situation worsening in Aleppo
The main focus of fighting in Aleppo has been the Salaheddine district, a gateway into the city of 2.5 million people, where Reuters witnessed heavy fighting.
Tanks pounded alleyways where rebels sought cover. One shell hit a building next to the Reuters reporting team, pouring rubble on to the street and sending billows of smoke and dust into the sky.
State television said Assad’s forces were “cleansing the terrorist filth” from the country, which has been sucked into an increasingly sectarian conflict that has killed about 18,000 people and could spill into neighboring states.
In Damascus, troops backed by fighter jets have kept up an offensive against the last rebel bastion there in recent days.
Syria’s two main cities had been relatively free of violence until last month when fighters poured into them, transforming the war. The government largely repelled the assault on Damascus but has had more difficulty recapturing Aleppo.
Rebel commanders say they anticipate a major Syrian army offensive in Aleppo and one fighter said they had already had to pull back from some streets after army snipers advanced on 4.8.2012 under cover of the fierce aerial and tank bombardment.
Syrian PM sacked
President Bashar al-Assad appointed Riyad Hijab, a former agriculture minister, as prime minister only in June following a parliamentary election which authorities said was a step towards political reform but which opponents dismissed as a sham.
A bomb blast hit the Damascus headquarters of Syria’s state broadcaster on 6.08.2012 as troops backed by fighter jets kept up an offensive against the last rebel bastion in the capital.
The bomb exploded on the third floor of the state television and radio building, state TV said. However, while the rebels may have struck a symbolic blow in their 17-month-old uprising against Assad, Information Minister Omran Zoabi said none of the injuries was serious, and state TV continued broadcasting.
Rebels in districts of Aleppo visited by Reuters journalists seemed battered, overwhelmed and running low on ammunition after days of intense tank shelling and helicopter gunships strafing their positions with heavy machinegun fire.
Emboldened by an audacious bomb attack in Damascus that killed four of Assad’s top security officials last month, the rebels had tried to overrun the Damascus and Aleppo, the country’s commercial hub.
Damascus has criticised Gulf Arab states and Turkey for calling for the rebels to be armed, and state TV has described the rebels as a “Turkish-Gulf militia”, saying dead Turkish and Afghan fighters had been found in Aleppo.
The violence has already shown elements of a proxy war between Sunni and Shi’ite Islam which could spill beyond Syria’s border. The rebels claimed responsibility for capturing 48 Iranians in Syria, forcing Tehran to call on Turkey and Qatar – major supporters of the rebels – to help secure their release.
On 6.08.2012, Syrian army tanks shelled alleyways in Aleppo where rebels sought cover a helicopter gunship fired heavy machinegun fire.
Snipers ran on rooftops targeting rebels, and one of them shot at a rebel car filled with bombs, setting the vehicle on fire. Women and children fled the city, some crammed in the back of pickup trucks, while others walked on foot, heading to relatively safer rural areas.
Dream Dare Win