Kofi Annan said today he will step down as special envoy for Syria effective Aug. 31, delivering a blistering criticism of world powers' failure to unite over the country's escalating violence. At an impromptu press conference, Annan told reporters he cannot go on when the 15-nation council provides no backing for his role, particularly because of the standoff between its five veto-wielding members: Russia and China on one side, the United States, Britain, and France on the other. He was appointed special envoy in February of last year.
"As an envoy, I can't want peace more than the protagonists, more than security council or the international community, for that matter," he added. He did not rule out the idea of a successor being appointed by the current UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, since "the world is full of crazy people like me, so don't be surprised if someone else decides to take it on." Ban said in a statement he accepted the resignation with deep regret, and is discussing possible successors with the Arab League. (Read more Kofi Annan stories.)