Russia dashes Kofi Annan's hope for unity on UN sanctions
Kofi Annan all but acknowledged last night that his peace mission in Syria is nearing collapse, but insisted the world powers can salvage it if they overcome their divisions and step up the diplomatic effort first by threatening sanctions on Damascus for failing to implement his six-point plan.
Speaking at the United Nations in New York, Mr Annan also floated the launching of new multilateral effort to force the Syrian regime into compliance, which in turn would start a political transition and the easing out from power of President Bashar al-Assad. It would be led by a new "contact group" of UN Security Council members and regional powers such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
"For the sake of the people of Syria who are living though this nightmare, the international community must come together and act as one," Mr Annan told an emergency session of the UN General Assembly. It was a blunt message to Russia, which has resisted all moves that might lead to the removal of its ally Mr Assad.
"The process cannot be open-ended, and, the longer we wait, the more radicalised and polarised the situation will become," Mr Annan said of his peace plan. "If things do not change, the future is likely to be one of brutal repression, massacres, sectarian violence and even all-out civil war.
Mr Annan will discuss the contact group proposal with the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, today. However, the US has already expressed scepticsm, not least because it would involve sitting at the same table with Iran. The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said Iran was "part of the problem" in Syria, playing a spoiler role.
Just as Mr Annan was calling for unity, it began at once to evaporate before his eyes. While Britain and the US backed a new UN resolution that would threaten sanctions on the Syrian regime, Russia's ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, made clear Moscow's opposition to a resolution that focused only on punishing Damascus and not opposition groups that, he said, were also violating the ceasefire provisions of the Annan plan.
Russia also said it wanted to convene a multilateral conference on tackling the Syrian crisis "as soon as possible". But this initiative would seem to be in competition with Mr Annan's proposed contact group of nations.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...