The White House blamed Russia and China today for the failure of Kofi Annan’s peace mission in Syria.
Annan formally announced today he would step down as special envoy to Syria at the end of the month. Despite his intense diplomatic efforts over the last year, including trips to Syria and constant contact with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his mission failed to halt the bloodshed in Syria. Instead the conflict is increasing with an all-out battle now developing over Syria’s largest city, Aleppo.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Annan’s efforts were disrupted by the break of international unity against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Annan’s resignation highlights the failure of the United Nations Security Council, of Russia and China, to support resolutions – gainful resolutions – that would have held Assad accountable for his failure to abide by his commitments under the Annan plan,” Carney said.
While thanking Annan for his service, America’s ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice also primarily blamed the Security Council for the failure of Annan’s mission. Russia and China have vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that called for tougher actions against the Assad regime three times.
“When the Security Council failed to heed Mr. Annan’s repeated calls for collective and significant consequences for non-compliance with its prior resolutions, those members who blocked this action effectively made Mr. Annan’s mission impossible,” said Rice in a statement.
But in an op-ed to the Financial Times, Annan blamed Russia, China as well as the U.S. and its allies. He said that both sides became too entrenched in their positions.
“It takes leadership to compromise to overcome the destructive lure of national rivalries,” said Annan. “Joint action requires bilateral and collective efforts by all countries with influence over the actors on the ground in Syria, to press upon the parties that a political solution is essential.”
He advised that for a peaceful solution to the bloodshed Russia, China and Iran have to persuade Syria’s leadership to “change course and embrace a political transition.”
He didn’t explicitly call for Assad to step down but said, “The current government has lost all legitimacy.”
Annan also agreed with the U.S. position that the first move must be made by the government to accept his six point peace plan which includes ending the violence and beginning a political transition.
But Annan also had advice for the United States and its allies about what they need to do to have peace in Syria, saying that they have to press the opposition to “embrace a fully inclusive political process,” a process that will include elements of the Assad regime.
“This also means recognizing that the future of Syria rises and falls on more than the fate of just one man,” said Annan.
The diplomatic meltdown of Annan’s resignation came as the White House announced it was pledging another $12 million in humanitarian aid for Syrian civilians.
A White House official told ABC News the timing of the humanitarian aid announcement was not related to Annan’s removal, or Wednesday’s Reuters report that President Obama had signed a secret order authorizing the CIA and other agencies to provide support to rebels against the Bashar Assad regime.
The newest U.S. pledge focuses on humanitarian aid to the conflict-ridden country, and brings the total U.S. assistance to Syria to $76 million. The aid is partly distributed through the World Food Program, International Red Cross, and other organizations.
Over 130,000 have fled to neighboring states during its violent uprising and government crackdown. The U.N. has asked for $180 million in international assistance for the country.
The White House has declined to comment on the Reuters report, but while the precise date and nature of President Obama’s order to give non-lethal assistance to Syria’s opposition is undetermined, it comes on the heels of observations of a marked improvement in effectiveness by the armed opposition, and stops short of providing arms.
On Wednesday the State Department acknowledged $25 million had been set aside for “non lethal” assistance to the fighters, such as communications equipment.
Today Carney said, “We don’t believe that adding to the number of weapons in Syria will do anything to help bring about a peaceful transition.”
The U.S. position has not stopped the import of weapons from Saudi Arabia, Turkey or Qatar.
A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Obama administration does believe a political transition is possible and knows it will need to include aspects of the current Syrian government.
“We’re going to get there, but we want to get there with a softer landing. We don’t just want the institutions to melt away,” said the official.