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Kofi Annan, the U.N.-Arab League special envoy to Syria meets President Bashar Assad in Damascus on March 10, 2012. (AP Photo/SANA)

Kofi Annan has quit his post as special peace envoy to Syria, after trying unsuccessfully to persuade President Bashar al-Assad and the rebel Free Syrian Army to find a diplomatic solution to their 17-month-long conflict. Assad agreed to the measures of Annan’s peace plan, but reportedly refused to implement them unless rebel troops withdrew. Estimates of civilian deaths have risen to more than 14,000.

VOA’s Susan Yackee spoke to Nadim Shehadi, an associate fellow at Chatham House in London, about the resignation on Thursday. Shehadi said he felt Annan’s mission was “impossible.” He described the former U.N. secretary-general’s effort as a success of the mandate but a failure of the mission.

Nadim Shehadi

‘Dialogue’ abandoned

“In a way, [the resignation] is expected because the developments in the international position now have moved too far away from the mandates of the Annan plan which Kofi Annan was in charge of. The plan was to create a dialogue between the opposition and the regime to ensure a transition. I think that was always impossible to do, but the international position endorsed it. What we’ve heard in statements in the last few days seems to indicate that the international community has abandoned that position too.”

Is Russia the solution?

“What’s next is going to be determined either by what’s underground, or by further defections or gains by the opposition or the regime. There is also a possibility of a diplomatic solution whereby the Russians are convinced to step in and control the transition. That would be the best solution…. There would be international collaboration for the transition period.”

Annan filled an important role

“Mr. Annan’s presence filled an important gap in international policy. I think his continuity allowed for some developments underground and some developments in the international position. In a sense, he has fulfilled his mandate but was not successful in the mission.”

Listen to more of Nadim Shehadi’s insights on Annan’s mission (4:43):

Susan Yackee

Susan Yackee is anchor of VOA's International Edition radio show. She has been a reporter in the Washington area for more than 35 years and regularly interviews newsmakers and analysts in DC and around the world. Susan works in television, radio and social media.

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