Brahimi's deputy leaves Syria team

Published February 3rd, 2014 - 05:27 GMT

After repeated calls from the Syrian government for him to be removed, Deputy Mediator Nasser al-Kidwa has left the team handling peace talks focused on ending the war in Syria, diplomatic sources said on Monday.

"He has been sacked," one diplomat claimed.

Effective this week, the UN confirmed his departure stating that he had informed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of his intention to vacate his post as deputy to international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi.

Kidwa, nephew of Yasser Arafat and former foreign minister of the Palestinian authority, was appointed as a deputy to Brahimi's predecessor Kofi Annan in March 2012, and continued in the role under Brahimi.

His departure came on Friday after the first week-long group of talks, chaired by Brahimi, between the Syrian government and the opposition. Brahimi has requested that both sides return for more talks on. Feb 10.

Diplomats had previously said Kidwa's role was controversial since they knew just before the Geneva talks began that the delegation representing President Bashar al-Assad had asked for him to be removed.

Despite rumors that he had been sidelined, Kidwa showed up anyway.  His presence, sitting behind Brahimi for the day, did not rest well with Assad’s delegation.

Nominated by the Arab League to join in the mediation process, U.N. sources and Arab diplomats claim that the Damascus government had always objected to Kidwa being involved.

"The Syrian government has always said, from the beginning, they would prefer Nasser is not there. Mostly because he used to be with Palestinian leadership," a U.N. source said.

On the plus side, the situation, according to a senior opposition negotiator, showed that "Brahimi's main goal is to achieve a deal. He does not care if he has to sacrifice Kidwa. He also wants to get as many concessions as possible from both sides."

Diplomats have stated that there are no candidates to replace Brahimi, 80, if he were to step down from the job of running the Syria talks.


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