The world should not stand by and watch Syria descend into a civil war, special envoy Kofi Annan has warned. But confidence in his peace plan may be starting to fray.
The world must not to allow Syria to slip into a full-scale civil war, UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan warned Tuesday at a conference in Geneva. He said the fallout if peace efforts collapse would be far-reaching.
"If it fails and it were to lead into a civil war, it will not affect only Syria, it will have an impact on the whole region," he said, in reference to ongoing international peace negotiations. "The biggest priority, first of all we need to stop the killing."
Annan also conceded that a "different tack" to the conflict, other than his peace plan, may have to be considered in the future, although he did also state that his six-point peace plan remains "the only remaining chance to stabilize the country" amid "profound concern that the country could otherwise descend into civil war."
Commenting on the present situation in Syria, Annan added that conflict-related incidences had decreased somewhat but the overall level of violence remained unacceptable.
Turkey: losing hope
Earlier in the day, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a visit to Rome that the United Nations must strengthen its mission in Syria with up to 3,000 observers, adding that he had “lost hope” in the organization's efforts for peace in the country.
"We need 1,000, 2,000, maybe 3,000 observers, a major mission so they can visit the whole country and see what is happening," Erdogan stated at a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti. “If you ask me, I have to say that I have lost hope ... in a political solution," he added
There are currently roughly 60 UN observers in Syria, with plans in place to bolster their number to 300 by the end of the month. Annan said on Tuesday that the existing monitors "have had a calming effect," and predicted that raising their number to 300 would have a "much greater impact."
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, however, said he had no plan to call on NATO to militarily intervene in Syria, dismissing as “false” a report in Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera which quoted Erdogan as stating he would use Article 5 of NATO's treaty to make a case for military action, after violence in Syria spilled across the border into Turkey. Article 5 obliges each NATO member state to interpret an attack on one member as a stand against the whole alliance and consider a synchronized armed response.
The statement of positions by international leaders comes a day after Damascus hosted parliamentary elections, which were slammed by opposition forces as a sham. The latter urged Syrians to boycott them.
Over 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since a popular uprising against the government boiled over into a vicious conflict between government and opposition forces 14 months ago.
sej/msh (AFP, Reuters)