Monday, August 13, 2012

A moment on International Mediations

Mediators of the diplomatic kind are making moves in several international crises. Last month, Kofi Annan departed Syria, but diplomacy continues to be the international community's main focus there. Replacement of Annan with Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi is being floated. Apparently, Brahimi still wants to know how much room he will have to maneuver, how much international backing he can expect to receive and whether his job is to merely reach a cease-fire (as he achieved in Lebanon) or to tap into his expertise in creating new governmental systems. Uniting the opposition groups under a single leadership has eluded all former mediators including the Turkish foreign minister and intermediaries appointed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Arab League. A developing war of attrition could work in favor of a new U.N. mediator, who could exploit the fatigue of both sides and bring about a cease-fire. See story Likewise, in Mali the lead mediator in regional efforts to end unrest in Mali told rebels that they must cut ties to terrorist movements like al Qaeda before any peace talks can begin. Islamist militant groups control about two-thirds of Mali after hijacking a secular rebellion by Tuareg nationalists earlier this year. Burkina Faso Foreign Minister, Djibril Bassole, wants to promote a dialogue to increase the likelihood of successful negotiations. The U.N. Security Council last month endorsed political efforts by West African leaders to end the unrest in Mali, but stopped short of backing a force. See Finally, in Zimbabwe, South Africa's President, Jacob Zuma, is to visit this week in his capacity as Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediator. His goal is to ensure the country is on the route to a fair, intimidation-free election. Zuma was appointed chief mediator on Zimbabwe in 2009 and no date is set for Zimbabwe's next elections, expected to take place within the next 12 months. A fragile unity government was formed in Zimbabwe in 2008 between President Robert Mugabe (who has ruled since independence in 1980) and opposition party leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The union followed a highly-contested presidential poll and post-election violence.