Editor's note: Ulrike Guérot is on a break. Guest columnist Richard Gowan will be writing the Continentalist while she is gone.
A malaise has settled over diplomatic discussions of the Syrian civil war at the United Nations. Last week, there was confusion over whether the U.N. had a replacement for Kofi Annan as envoy to Damascus. Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi had been offered the post, but it was unclear whether he would accept it.
While Brahimi eventually agreed to take the job, an anonymous U.N. source briefed that he wanted to get away from the “failed approach” tried by Annan. The Syrian crisis has put senior U.N. officials under prolonged stress, and the recriminations over Annan’s handling of the situation are probably far from over. Even before his selection in late February, relations between Annan and current U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon were at times strained.