* Algeria's Brahimi tipped to replace Kofi Annan
* No sign of big powers overcoming divisions on Syria
* Annan quit in frustration over Security Council divisions
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 10 The man tipped to replace
Kofi Annan as the U.N.-Arab League mediator on Syria, Lakhdar
Brahimi of Algeria, urged world leaders on Friday to overcome
their differences on the 17-month-old conflict that is slipping
deeper into full-scale civil war.
"The U.N. Security Council and regional states must unite to
ensure that a political transition can take place as soon as
possible," Brahimi said in a statement published on the website
of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders committed
to peace and human rights.
"Millions of Syrians are clamoring for peace," Brahimi said.
"World leaders cannot remain divided any longer, over and above
It is Brahimi's first public statement on Syria since
diplomats told Reuters on Thursday that U.N. Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon was expected to name the veteran Algerian diplomat
as early as next week to replace Annan, barring a last-minute
change or cold feet on Brahimi's part.
U.N. diplomats said Brahimi has told Ban and Arab League
chief Nabil Elaraby that his condition for accepting the job was
that he receive "strong support" from the Security Council,
which has been sharply divided on Syria for since the uprising
began in March 2011.
It was not immediately clear what Brahimi meant by "strong
support," though the diplomats said he was understandably
reluctant to take a job that would be extremely difficult to
Brahimi, 78, has served as a U.N. special envoy in a series
of challenging circumstances, including in Iraq after the U.S.
invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein; in Afghanistan both before
and after the end of Taliban rule, and in South Africa as it
emerged from the apartheid era.
French U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud, president of the
Security Council this month, told reporters Ban was expected to
make an announcement about Annan's successor on Monday or
Tuesday after consulting with Elaraby.
Annan, a former U.N. secretary-general and Nobel Peace Prize
laureate, said he would step down on Aug. 31 because he was not
able to carry out his job with the U.N. Security Council's veto
powers hopelessly divided and deadlocked.
There are no signs that Brahimi will get his wish anytime
soon, if at all. The divisions on the Security Council - above
all the split between the United States and Russia - run deep.
Russia, with the aid of China, has vetoed three resolutions
criticizing and threatening sanctions against Damascus for its
attempt to use military force and heavy arms to crush an
increasingly militant opposition.
Washington, U.N. diplomats said, saw little point in
replacing Annan since Moscow continues to support Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad and opposes sanctions intended to
pressure Damascus into halting the violence.
Moscow, Syria's chief ally and principal arms supplier,
blames the United States, Qatar and Saudi Arabia for supporting
Syrian rebels, including providing weapons.