UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday in New York that he has accepted "with great regret" the resignation of Lakhdar Brahimi as the UN and Arab League joint special representative on Syria, Anadolu Agency reported.
Though Brahimi's departure was long-expected in UN diplomatic circles, the secretary general as yet has not announced a substitute for the experienced and "brilliant diplomat" as he described him. Nor is there an alternative plan for the resumption of peace talks for Syria.
"We have been working very hard during the last three to four years to bring an end to this horrible tragedy. [But] we are still working on Plan A," Ban told Anadolu Agency (AA) after the departure announcement was made.
"While we are regrettably letting Ambassador Brahimi leave this position, I am sure that he will stay around and will always be ready to provide his experience and expertise."
Ban said he wanted to make the announcement in person, adding Brahimi will relinquish his post effective May 31, 2014.
Ban told AA the UN will now have to consider its future course of action in finding both a successor to Brahimi and how to proceed in finding peace in Syria.
Brahimi "has faced almost impossible odds, with a Syrian nation, Middle Eastern region and wider international community that have been hopelessly divided," Ban said.
Prior to Brahimi, the joint UN Special envoy on Syria was former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Annan stayed in the role from February to August 2012, when he resigned.
At the time Annan called his diplomatic efforts in Syria a "mission impossible," even as he termed it a sacred duty to try to bring about peace.
Brahimi said he was "very sad" to be leaving the position and to "leave Syria behind in such a bad state," even as he was optimistic about the future.
"I'm sure that the crisis will end," Brahimi said.
The only question is "how much more destruction is there going to be before Syria becomes again the Syria we have known," he said.
The secretary general also expressed his own bafflement at the absence of diplomatic results in the Syrian crisis.
Ban said everybody had a "natural expectation" that Brahimi, and the UN with him "would have been able to deliver." Yet, the expected success did not happen.
"But somehow, because of the divisions, because of the divided world, here and there, within the United Nations and in the region, we have not been able to make any progress," said Ban Ki-moon.