After Kofi Annan quit the job in frustration, the United Nations announced on Friday it had officially named veteran negotiator and former Algerian foreign minister Lakhdar Brahimi as its new envoy to Syria, a move that sounds like it took some work. Brahimi is a great choice: He worked with the United Nations from 1994 to 2005, serving as envoy to both Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the Associated Press and his U.N. biography. "This may be just what is needed in Syria now: a hardened but independent mediator, who will stick with diplomatic efforts even if he faces a lot of criticism for failing to cut a deal fast," New York University Center on International Cooperation director Richard Gowan wrote to the Associated Press.
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But Brahimi didn't exactly jump at the chance to try to broker a peace deal in Syria. The coverage leading up to Friday's announcement suggested the U.N. was courting Brahimi hard: "U.N. persuades Lakhdar Brahimi to accept Syria peace mission," The Guardian reported. "Algeria's Brahimi agrees to be Syria mediator," Reuters wrote. "Diplomats told Reuters that Brahimi, who had been undecided for days about whether to accept the offer of the post from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, did not want to be seen as a mere replacement of Annan but wanted a reconfigured title and fresh approach to his mandate as a peace broker," Reuters' Louis Charbonneau reported on Thursday. "Brahimi had delayed taking the job as Syria envoy because he wanted a signal of support from the [U.N. Security] Council. What kind of support Brahimi wanted remains unclear," the AP's Ron Depasquale reported on Friday.
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Annan will be out at the end of August. Let's hope Brahimi has more success.