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Finding No Peace Solution to Syria Conflict, Kofi Annan Quits Post as U.N. Envoy

August 2, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The civil war in Syria claimed a high-profile diplomatic casualty today in Kofi Annan. The United Nations envoy announced he’s quitting, as fighting raged on in Damascus and Aleppo.

We begin with a report narrated by Inigo Gilmore of Independent Television News.

INIGO GILMORE: This is what’s left of al-Qaboun , a suburb in northern Damascus. It looks like it’s been smashed by a tsunami. Locals say the Syrian army bombarded this area for days and then brought in the bulldozers, buildings chewed up and spat out, hundreds of more lives ground into the dust.

Across the other side of the capital in the southern suburb Artouz, scenes of hysteria, as hundreds gather to mourn those killed in yet another massacre.

While many army units have begun deployed to Aleppo, the regime has continued to try to crush opposition in Damascus with heavy clashes again erupting across the capital.

Some of the more than 50 civilians killed here appear to have been executed allegedly by soldiers and militiamen. As Syria has plunged further into bloody chaos, the international community has appeared impotent.

Today, a frustrated Kofi Annan, here meeting with the Syrian president, announced he was resigning as the United Nations peace envoy for Syria. He blamed both the regime and the rebels for refusing to implement his peace plan.

KOFI ANNAN, former U.N. secretary-general: All of which is compounded by the disunity of the international community. At a time when we need, when the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger-pointing and name-calling in the Security Council.

You have to understand, as an envoy, I can’t want peace more than the protagonists, more than the Security Council, or the international community, for that matter.

INIGO GILMORE: Strong words from a diplomat reflecting the despair over the seemingly intractable Syrian conflict. U.N. mission has been sidelined as world powers continue to arm and finance the opposing sides, with fighting spreading across Syria.

Russia and China have been out of step with the Security Council. In London, President Putin said he regretted Annan’s departure, but offered no new initiative. The prime minister too had little to add, though he later called on the U.N. to ramp up the pressure on the Syrian regime.

PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON, United Kingdom: The current political process isn’t working, hasn’t worked. And we need to be tougher.

INIGO GILMORE: No sign of that in Aleppo today, as rebels and President Assad’s forces continue to pound each other’s positions. And tonight, with the U.N. mission in total disarray, reports that the fighting is again intensifying and the dead continue to pile up.