On Saturday Kofi Annan gave an exclusive interview to Le Monde (Paris), which we have translated in toto below.[1]  --  While Annan acknowledged that his mission to resolve the Syrian crisis "has not succeeded," he did not by any means pronounce it a failure or give up on it.  --  He criticized not Syria, Russia, or Iran, but rather (without naming them) Western and Arab countries that are flooding the country with arms and organizing violence inside Syria:  "few things are said about other countries that send arms, money, and affect the situation on the ground.  All these countries claim to want a peaceful solution, but they undertake individual and collective initiatives that undermine the very meaning of the Security Council resolutions."  --  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, however, twisted his remarks into an occasion to claim that time is running out and to warn that the Syrian state may soon collapse.[2]  --  She opined that there is but "a chance" to avoid "a catastrophic assault that would be very dangerous not only to Syria, but to the region," Bradley Klapper said.  --  The day before, Clinton also ramped up her rhetoric by saying the opposition of Russia and China to U.N. Security Council action against Syria was "intolerable," provoking a sharp riposte from a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, who called Clinton's remarks "totally unacceptable."[3] ...



Near East


Le Monde (Paris)
July 7, 2012


In an interview at Le Monde, Kofi Annan, United Nations and Arab League envoy for Syria, draws up the balance sheet of his undertaking.

The violence has lasted for sixteen months, and seems to be getting worse.  There are estimates that at least 16,000 people have died, 1.5 million need humanitarian assistance, 100,000 have fled to neighboring countries.  Are you failing in your mission?

This crisis has been going on for sixteen months, but I began to be involved three months ago.  Significant efforts have been undertaken to try to resolve this situation politically and peacefully.  It's obvious, we haven't succeeded.  And there is perhaps no guarantee that we are going to succeed.  But have we studied alternatives?  Have we put the other options on the table?  I said this to the United Nations Security Council, adding that this mission, like my own role, was not indefinite in time.

The text of a "political transition" in Syria adopted on June 30 in Geneva by the great powers has no deadline.  Isn't it another opportunity for Bashar al-Assad to gain time?

We didn't include a calendar in the plan, because we wanted to emphasize that the process should be guided by the Syrians themselves.  We don't want to impose anything, anything unrealistic.  A calendar can only be the result of consultations.  One of the objectives of the Geneva meeting was for the participants [Western and Arab countries, Turkey, Russia, and China] to remoblize for a political solution.  And  for the governments of the region to use their influence on the parties, in Syria, to push them to a result.

You seem to be counting on Russia's influence.  What makes you think the Russian regime has the slightest interest in "producing" a credible transition in Syria?  In being constructive?

Is there an alternative?  Russia, like many countries involved in this matter, has interests in Syria and in the region.  Once you take as your point of departure that there also exist common interests, in the middle and long term, the question becomes:  how can these interest be protected?

Isn't it desirable that these countries find a way to work together, in order to ensure that Syria does not break up, that it not spread its problems to its neighbors, and to avoid it creaing an uncontollable situation in the region for everybody?  Otherwise, are these countries going to continue along the path they've embarked upon, leading to a destructive competition in which everyone ends up losing?

More than anything, we have to think of the poor Syrians and the inhabitants of the region.  I hope that reason will prevail, at least when it comes to defending well-defined interests of states.  In that case, it's in Russia's interest as well as in the interest of the other countries to find a way to work together.

Might the most realistic scenario be the Russians contributing to changing the political leadership in Syria, but by acting in such a way that the security apparatus continues to have close ties to them?

I'm not sure I can respond.  Many factors are in play.  The events are being wrought by many actors.  Russia has influence but I am not sure that events will be determined by Russia alone.

Are you alluding to Iran?

Iran is an actor.  It should be part of the solution.  It has influence and we cannot ignore it [Western countries refused Iran's participation in the Action Group that met on June 30].

But what strikes me is that there are so many commentaries about Russia, while Iran is less mentioned, and that, above all, few things are said about other countries that send arms, money, and affect the situation on the ground.  All these countries claim to want a peaceful solution, but they undertake individual and collective initiatives that undermine the very meaning of the Security Council resolutions.  The unique focus on Russia annoys many Russians.

The Syrian opposition thinks the Geneva text includes too many concessions, made to Russia in particular...

It is regrettable that the opposition reacted in this manner.  The Geneva communiqué was worked out by a group of states 80% of which are members of the Friends of Syria group [which called on Fri., Jul. 6, for Bashar al-Assad's departure].  That is why to claim that the opposition was "betrayed" or "sold" is rather bizarre.  The Paris meeting [on Fri., Jul. 6] is a wonderful opportunity for the "friends" of Syria, including France, the United States, Qatar, Kuwait, Turkey, to explain this to the opposition and to reestablish the facts.

In the absence of a cease-fire, does the presence of some 300 U.N. observers make sense?

We sometimes hear it said that the observers, who are not armed, have not succeeded in stopping the violence.  But that was never their role!  They entered Syria to verify whether the parties were respecting their commitments to cease hostilities.

And for a brief moment, on Apr. 12, that was the case, both sides stopped fighting.  I couldn't believe it.  I turned on the television and saw Al Jazeera announce that everything was calm.  It that was possible for a day, why not for a month?  Why not again?  There was, on the contrary, an escalation of the violence.  But if the situation improves, the observers will be ready to resume their work.

On Syria, what remains of the "responsibility to protect," a principle that you had contributed to elaborating as secretary-general of the U.N. after Bosnia and Rwanda?

I'll tell you frankly:  the way in which the "responsibility to protect" was used on Libya has created a problem for the concept.  The Russians and the Chinese think they were duped: they adopted a U.N. resolution that was transfomred into a regime change process.  Which, from the point of view of those countries, was not the initial intention.  Whenever we discuss Syria, there is "an elephant in the room."

Can the defections of Syrian military, particularly that of Gen. Tlass, be the result of diplomacy?  Of pressure that Russia exerted behind the scenes?  Such pressure seemed to increase after the Geneva accord.

We read the reports about defections, and the case you mention concerns an important figure in the regime, but it it hard for me to determine what led to these decisions.

--Interviewed by Natalie Nougayrède.

Translated by Mark K. Jensen
Associate Professor of French
Department of Languages and Literatures
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, WA 98447
Phone: 253-535-7219
Webpage: http://www.plu.edu/~jensenmk/
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


By Bradley Klapper

Associated Press
July 7, 2012


TOKYO -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says time's running out on Syrian peace hopes and warns that the Syrian state could collapse.

Speaking in Japan, Clinton said Sunday that U.N. mediator Kofi Annan's acknowledgement that his peace plan is failing "should be a wake-up call for everyone."

She says last month was the deadliest for the Syrian people in the 16-month revolt against President Bashar Assad (bah-SHAR' AH'-sahd). Clinton adds that the opposition "is getting more effective in defense of themselves and going on the offensive against the Syrian military."

Clinton says Assad's regime must acknowledge that its days are numbered.

She says there's "still a chance to save the Syrian state from a catastrophic assault that would be very dangerous not only to Syria, but to the region."



Voice of America News
July 7, 2012


Beijing has rejected criticism by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that China and Russia are hampering efforts to end the Syrian conflict by supporting President Bashar al-Assad. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said Saturday that Clinton's comments are "totally unacceptable."

He said China has wide support among members of the international community for its stance on Syria, and that any effort to slander China will fail.

At a Friday meeting in Paris of governments supporting Assad's opponents, Clinton said it is "intolerable" that Russia and China continue to block a peaceful resolution of the Syria crisis by backing President Assad. She accused Russia and China of "holding up progress." 

Russia and China, both permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, have repeatedly vetoed tough Council action against Syria.  Neither attended the conference in Paris.  However, they have agreed to the authority of an eventual transitional governing body for the country.

China and Russia are Syria's most powerful allies.

In another development Saturday, Lebanese officials say Syrian rocket fire killed three people and wounded at least nine others in villages in northern Lebanon.  

Syrian rebels trying to overthrow Assad have used northern Lebanon as a base, and Syrian forces have carried out deadly cross-border raids into Lebanon, sparking fears the conflict could spread across into the country.

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 50 people were killed Friday in anti-government related unrest.