Washington, Asharq Al-Awsat—Following days of speculation regarding Lakhdar Brahimi’s future as joint UN–Arab League Special Envoy to Syria, his official spokesman, Farhan Al-Haj, denied reports that the senior international mediator is set to resign from his post.
“I can deny the news that Lakhdar Brahimi has resigned from his post,” Haj said in comments to Asharq Al-Awsat.
Over the last week, rumors about Brahimi’s imminent resignation have persisted in diplomatic circles, with some officials citing the senior diplomat’s growing frustration with the slow pace of progress on the Syrian issue.
But Haj maintained that Brahimi will remain in his post and continue his efforts to find a solution to the ongoing Syrian crisis. “Brahimi will go to New York next week to meet with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other senior officials,” he said.
Several UN diplomats reported that Brahimi appears increasingly frustrated with the international community’s unsuccessful efforts to strike a deal between the Syrian government and opposition and with the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria.
With Syrian presidential elections forthcoming, which will almost certainly see Bashar Al-Assad secure another six-year term in power in what Western powers describe as a sham poll, Brahimi will likely face difficulty in strengthening his position at future negotiations.
The reports of Brahimi’s resignation raised concerns about the difficulty of finding a replacement envoy who would be acceptable to the Damascus government, the Syrian opposition, the UN and Arab League.
“Brahimi realizes the difficulty of finding a successor; therefore, he will not submit his resignation for the time being, until a successor has been agreed upon,” a Western diplomat speaking on the condition of anonymity told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The diplomat predicted that Brahimi will likely submit his resignation sometime in the next few weeks, maintaining that a list of names to fill Brahimi’s post is currently being drawn up.
Brahimi took over from Kofi Annan as the UN Special Envoy to Syria in August 2012, after the former UN secretary-general and senior Ghanaian diplomat failed to reach a settlement in Syria.
The UN also officially denied Brahimi’s resignation. “Mr Brahimi has not resigned,” UN Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said on Friday. “I’ll say it again. He has not resigned. He remains the Joint Special Representative. There is no more status update. We expect him in New York, I believe, next week.”