On the eve of the UN Special Envoy to Syria’s briefing to the members of the Security Council in New York, diplomats told Asharq Al-Awsat that former Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra was among the candidates to succeed Staffan de Mistura.
Western diplomats expected that the international envoy would also inform the Security Council about his intention to visit Damascus soon to “discuss the constitutional committee”, hoping to return to the political process in accordance with the Geneva Declaration and UNSC Resolution 2254.
Some sources did not confirm whether UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had already found a successor for de Mistura. They noted, however, that Lamamra has topped the list of candidates that also included Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov and International Envoy to Iraq Jan Kubik.
De Mistura arrived in New York on Monday to present a briefing on diplomatic efforts to move Syria's political process forward in accordance with agreements reached in Astana and Sochi, in particular with regard to the formation of a constitutional committee.
De Mistura has so far failed to form the committee despite receiving three lists from the government, the opposition and the civil society.
Asharq Al-Awsat also learned that de Mistura would inform members of the Security Council that he would accept an invitation from the Syrian regime to visit Damascus in the next few days after he had addressed to Syrian officials a verbal message on suggestions and names of members of the committee.
A senior UN official confirmed that de Mistura had expressed more than once his rejection to remain in the post he is occupying since mid-2014.
A Western diplomat noted that the Secretary-General was “waiting for the right time to announce the name of an Arab diplomat to succeed de Mistura after the approval of the five permanent members of the Security Council and of the Syrian government.”
The former Algerian foreign minister has held several positions in the United Nations and “maintains a good relationship” with Bashar al-Assad's regime, a situation that has “angered Western diplomats who expressed dissatisfaction with Guterres’ policy of rapprochement with the Syrian regime.”