Annan tries to revive peace plan for Syria
BEIRUT — International envoy Kofi Annan tried to rescue his peace plan for Syria by seeking help Monday from Iran, a staunch ally and military backer of President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Before flying to Tehran, Annan said he had agreed on a new approach with Assad to stop the violence, which activists say has killed more than 17,000 people since the conflict began in March 2011.
Annan did not spell out the agreement or say what kind of involvement he saw for Iran in resolving the crisis. Anti-regime fighters dismissed any role for Iran in a plan they and some experts say has little hope of succeeding.
“Kofi thinks you can’t have a political transition and solution without the Iranians on board, but this is still part of the understanding that Assad and the regime will be part of the solution — an idea many of us have given up on,” said Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center and an analyst on regional politics.
The United States has rejected Iranian participation in international meetings on the crisis in Syria.
Annan, the joint envoy for Syria from the UN and the Arab League, presented a peace plan earlier this year, but it has been deeply troubled from the start.
Government forces and rebels have widely disregarded a cease-fire that was to begin in April, and spreading violence has kept nearly 300 UN observers monitoring the truce stuck in their hotels in Syria.
After a two-hour meeting with Assad on Monday, Annan said the men had agreed on “an approach” to stop the violence, and that the diplomat would share it with the armed opposition.