Arab states will not accept a new international envoy to Syria after Kofi Annan’s resignation unless his or her mandate is to clearly negotiate a transfer of power, Qatar’s prime minister said on Saturday.
“We, as Arab countries will not accept another envoy representing the Arabs and the Security Council because the circumstances have completely changed,” Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani told Al-Jazeera of the outgoing U.N. and Arab League envoy, whose six-point plan for peace was never implemented.
“We believe that the task of any new envoy - if they want participation from Arab states - much be changed so that the mission is the peaceful transfer of power in Syria.”
“Arab nations will not accept a new envoy with the same mandate that was given to Annan.”
“The only acceptable designation is working on the peaceful transfer of power in Syria.”
Sheikh Hamad said he had contacted U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi and Annan himself to inform them of this decision.
“The six-point plan is over,” he said in comments published on the Doha-based Al Jazeera channel’s website
Any new envoy must be tasked with working on “the peaceful transfer of power in Syria” and must follow a new strategy after the “failure” of the Annan plan, the broadcaster’s website quoted the Qatari premier as saying.
“The plan must clearly be modified” after “none of it was implemented,” he said.
Annan announced his resignation on Thursday after violence intensified across the war-torn country, where a rights watchdog estimates that more than 20,000 people have been killed since March 2011.
His peace plan was centered around an April ceasefire agreement between Assad's government and rebel fighters, as a first step towards political dialogue. The ceasefire never took hold and thousands of civilians, soldiers and rebels have been killed since it was agreed.
The former U.N. chief’s move dealt a blow to Russian efforts to shield its key Soviet-era ally from more forceful action by Western and Arab states.
Moscow had defended Annan’s initiative as the only way for a negotiated solution to the conflict and insisted on the extension of a U.N. observer mission in Syria that remains suspended amid the violence.
On Friday, Russia said a replacement for Annan should be found urgently, and said the U.N. mission should have a future role to play in monitoring the situation in Syria’s commercial capital Aleppo and elsewhere.
The U.N. General Assembly on Friday overwhelmingly passed a resolution slamming the Security Council’s failure to take strong steps to end the fighting that Ban said has become a “proxy war.”
Russia and China, which have vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria, were among high-profile opponents of the resolution which many diplomats said showed frustration at the lack of international action on the conflict.