Kofi Annan was not the obvious choice to head up the world's peacemaking mission in Syria given his handling of two of the greatest human rights injustices since WWII when he was UN Director of Peacekeeping Operations between March 1993 and December 1996. As StopAnnan.org remembered in their petition opposing the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize for Kofi Annan:
A careful account of events show that Mr Annan who was the Head of UN Peacekeeping at the time neither denounced the sinister forces of Serb General Mladic nor the Rwandan Hutu extremist 'government' that both killed innocent civilians by the thousands. Nor did Mr Annan try to generate the kind of public support such interventions would require.
Yet he himself - then as Head of UN Peacekeeping with direct contact to UN troops in both places - was better informed and better situated than almost any other person in the world to confront those very governments that abandoned Rwandans and Bosnians. He could have spoken out on the atrocities and pleaded for forceful interventions to prevent the unfolding massacres.
In the case of Rwanda, he even received a stream of specific warnings from well-informed sources on the planning of genocide three months before the murderers set out. Warnings that he chose not to make public or pass on to those targeted for elimination, since he knew that such publicity would discomfort certain governments in the Security Council. Governments, who on the one hand did not want to intervene in Africa, but on the other hand did not either want to face embarrassing public criticism for being bystanders to genocide. And it is today well documented also in UN reports - that he even chose to stay silent during those 100 days when an estimated 1,000,000 Rwandans were massacred.
In the case of Bosnia, Mr Annan not only remained silent in the face of atrocities: he argued against the use of force. Despite the fact that in 1993, Srebrenica largely Muslim enclave in Serb-dominated eastern Bosnia had been designated as one of six safe areas by the Security Council, Mr Annan neither wanted UNPROFORs Rapid Reaction Force to intervene, nor did he want the Dutch UN Battalion based at Srebrenica to actively defend the enclave. Instead, Mr Annan continuously called for negotiations and dialogue with the Serb leaders, who had already before the Srebrenica killed scores of civilians. This strategy was so firmly defended that even when it became clear that the Serb forces were moving in on Srebrenica and the Dutch commander, Colonel Ton Karremans, asked UN Headquarters for air support, these requests were repeatedly denied.
In spite of this questionable performance as the head of UN Peacekeeping, Kofi Annan went on to become United Nation Secretary General for almost a decade between January 1997 and September 2006. As Secretary General, he opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq without UN support and in April 2004 pronounced it an illegal war but did not lead the world body in doing anything to enforce that legal opinion.
The UN "Oil for Food" program, often referred to by its very appropriate acronym "OFF", and the scandal it became synonymous with, happened while he was Secretary General. In December 2004, reports surfaced that the Secretary General's son, Kojo Annan, was receiving money from a Swiss company, Cotecna Inspection SA, which had a very profitable contract through OFF. There was an investigation, lead by former FED chairman Paul Volcker. A number of UN officials were indicted but Kofi Annan survived.
The tragedy of Darfur, in which several hundred thousand Africans were slaughtered by Omar al-Bashir's Sudanese Army and Mummar Qaddafi's Janjaweed, happened on his watch. Nat Hentoff wrote in the Village Voice about Kofi Annan's stewardship during the Darfur Genocide, saying:
Annan's guilt at his silence when he could have stopped the genocide in Rwanda appears to have intensified as he watched the U.N. Security Council do nothing meaningful to stop the genocide in Darfur for these three years and instead engage in crafting empty proposals that amounted to a minuet of death.Now six years later, Kofi Annan is leading the UN's respond to the crisis in Syria and to see the "U.N. Security Council do nothing meaningful to stop the" slaughter "and instead engage in crafting empty proposals that amounted to a minuet of death" is a tragically apt vision of what has really been going on.
It is a gross understatement to call his performance as joint UN-Arab League Envoy to Syria lackluster. According to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 7,636 people had been killed in the 12 months before Kofi Annan took up the task of stopping the bloodletting on 23 February 2012. Four and a half months latter SOHR puts the death toll for the conflict at 17,000. That means almost ten thousand Syrians, or the majority of those that have so far been taken from us by this conflict, were murdered on Kofi Annan's watch. Another way to say that is to say that Syrians have been dying at a rate that is more than three times what it was before Kofi Annan took on the job of Syria's peacemaker. 5898 people have been killed since the attempted ceasefire of 12 April 2012. Even Kofi Annan has been forced to admit his plan has been a failure.
For these services, he expects the tax payers of the world to pay him $7.5 million to "cover expenses." Kofi Annan, himself, will only take home an undersecretary-general's pay [$189k] but he has a staff of 17 and they have to eat too.
Tuesday, from the leaked Syrian government minutes of this Monday's meeting [9 July 2012] between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Kofi Annan, we have additional insight into his approach to the Syrian crisis. Beirut blogger F. Najia, translated the minutes from the Arabic published in Assad's Lebanon mouthpiece, Al Akhbar, and gave us his interpretation:
He explicitly told his presidential host the Geneva conference declaration did no more than endorse his six-point initiative, adding: I am sure you know, Mr. President, that what actually took place in Geneva does not tally with the ensuing interpretations and explanations that sought to distort and expound on what was approved at the conference.Assad then went on to describe how he saw things on the ground and
The implication is that Annan was fully endorsing the post-Geneva Russian stand vis-à-vis the Western allies position.
Again, it was clear both men now describe regime opponents as the armed opposition.
The UN delegates did not dispute their hosts remarks. But Annan went on to state: Nevertheless, the situation being what it is, lets try again. Our observers would reach an agreement with the armed groups in the area where we choose to start. At the same time, we would ask for a goodwill gesture on your part in the chosen area. The gesture would see you observe a unilateral ceasefire in the designated area, of say four hours, pending the mutual ceasefires entry into force.By agreeing to the cessation of smuggling as a condition for the ceasefire, Annan has already built failure into this new plan before the UN even sees it. Smuggling is by its very nature carried out in secrecy so how do you ever know when you have put an end to it? More to the point how can you ever convince Assad that the opposition has stopped smuggling so that now he will hold up his side of the bargain and stop the slaughter.
Here, Annan was reminded that the ceasefire provision in his six-point plan was contingent on the cessation of the funding of, and smuggling of arms to, the opposition.
When Assad complained that the real problem in making the peace would be with the opposition,
Annan couldnt help chuckling before saying, I am certainly aware of the difficulty. I saw them (the opposition groups) at their last conference in Cairo.The implications of this conversation is that Kofi Annan's view of the Syrian crisis is very close to that most Syrians hold responsible for the crisis, President Bashar al-Assad.
The official meeting ended there. But while preparing to take leave, Annan asked his host, How long you think can this crisis last?
Assad: So long as ( ) funds them -- (a possible reference to Qatar).
On Wednesday, the UNSC discussed the new Russian proposed draft resolution on Syria which Kofi Annan supports. It reaffirms the UN support for Annan's six point peace plan, sends the UN observers back out and suggests they wait another three months before taking more substantiate action. This is a recipe for even more slaughter on Kofi Annan's watch.
Thursday the Syrian opposition spoke out against Kofi Annan. From the Hindu 12 July 2012, we have:
Syria opposition, activists hit out at Annan
Syria's opposition in exile and activists on the ground have hit out at international envoy Kofi Annan, accusing him of treating the victim and aggressor in the country's brutal conflict on the same terms.
They also lashed out at the UN-Arab League envoy for seeking to placate President Bashar al-Assad's ally Iran.
More than four months on from his appointment, Annan has proved powerless to end the violence that monitors say has cost 17,000 lives, mostly civilians, since the anti-Assad uprising broke out in March 2011, as first with peaceful protests.
"People are outraged, and it is clear that the envoy is biased," opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) member Bashar al-Haraki told AFP. "What has he achieved? Nothing except blood."
"We were shocked when he said Iran had to be involved, when Iran is an accomplice to the murders," he said. "Iran has provided experts to monitor communications from the start of the revolt, and later they sent fighters."
After meeting with Assad in Damascus on Monday, Annan said: "We agreed an approach which I will share with the armed opposition," angering activists on the ground.
"Annan talks about the 'armed opposition' -- whereas it's the mafia regime attacking the people," a Damascus-based activist who identified himself as Ahmed al-Khatib told AFP via Skype.
"We took to the streets with olives and flowers but reality forced us to take up arms. It's impossible to demand that the people hand over weapons now," he added.
"Even the least political aspect of Annan's plan -- humanitarian assistance -- has not been in any way implemented, and there are people in some areas of Syria living in conditions worse than the Stone Age."
"What he has done again and again is provide political cover for leaders who are committing massacres."
Clearly Kofi Annan has taken a very soft approach to dealing with Assad, and many observers feel that he has stood in the way of the UN and the world taking effective action with his high tolerance for Assad's deceptions and excuses. Below the fold, I want to speculate on possible motives for Kofi Annan's behavior that go beyond his usual tolerance for atrocities and slaughter. I know that I am getting into "conspiracy theory" area with the purely circumstantial case I am building, but I have decided that there is enough there to share my finding with you in the hopes that by our joint efforts, better answers can be found.
From the NY Times, September 7, 2005, we have this item:
Annan Failed to Curb Corruption in Iraq's Oil-for-Food Program, Investigators ReportWhat if such evidence existed and Bashar al-Assad had it? That would certainly put Kofi Annan in a compromised position. It could also go along ways toward explaining his softball approach to negotiations with Assad.
By WARREN HOGE
UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 6 - A yearlong investigation has concluded that Secretary General Kofi Annan failed to curb corruption and mismanagement at the United Nations, but it did not find evidence to support charges that he improperly influenced the scandal-tainted oil-for-food program.
I started looking into this after I received the following message from @mog7546:
Why Kofi Annan isn't tough with Assad? the answer is Kojo Annan, his son who was an associate with the Syrian and Iranian regimes in the smuggling of Iraqi oil, bypassing the oil for food program. Hence Syria has very embarrassing information for the Annans, Kofi and Kojo. That explains the docility of Mr. Kofi with the criminal AssadBased on his record in handling other human rights disasters, I would already argue that Kofi Annan is the wrong man for the job. If there is any truth to this allegation, he is certainly the wrong man for the job and should have recursed or excused himself from this contract.
The Oil for Food Program
The Oil-for-Food Program [OFF] was suppose to provide some relief to ordinary Iraqis suffering because of UN sanctions. The idea was that Saddam Hussein would be allowed to sell a certain amount of oil and then use the proceeds to buy food and medicine for the people, after certain deductions like the program's expense, damages to the Kuwaitis, and after the invasion of Iraq, the cost of the occupation itself.
The program started in December 1996. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed Benon V. Sevan of Cyprus the executive director of OFF. Before he took over the directorship of what probably became the most scandal ridden and corrupt program in UN history, he'd held other positions with the world body since 1965 and had been steadily climbing his way up the administrative ladder.
Benon Sevan liked to brag that he ran the program with only a 2.2% administrative cost but since $65 billion in Iraqi oil was sold through the program, that amounted to almost a $1.5 billion in what Signor Ferrari would call "carrying charges, my boy, carrying charges." While he was running the program, he stonewalled any investigation, made it difficult for staff to file complaints, and once investigations started in earnest, ordered the shredding of years' worth of documents concerning the program.
Sevan reportedly accepted bribes from Saddam Hussein in the form of oil vouchers, and allowed Saddam to garner $11 billion for military and other uses which violated the UN sanctions against his regime.In the Spring of 2004, after the invasion of Iraq, letters were found in Iraqi Oil Ministry files that gave up the names of 270 individuals and entities that received payoffs or kickbacks from Saddam Hussein via these oil vouchers. Benon Sevan was on that list doing business as Africa Middle East Petroleum Co, Ltd. (AMEP), a Panama Company. Records seem to indicate that Sevan's company received vouchers for more than 13 million barrels of oil worth about $4.13 million while he was director of the program but Volcker's commission only called him out on $150,000 in cash bribes and early in 2005 Secretary General Kofi Annan suspended Sevan and another UN official with $1 a year pay so that their diplomatic immunity would still protect them.
Others weren't so luck, Alexander Yakovlev, a lower level UN procurement officer plead guilty to soliciting a bribe under OFF and was looking at 20 years in prison for each of three charges after Secretary General Kofi Annan waived Yakovlevs immunity.
Maurice Strong is another Kofi Annan "known associates" that we might say "got OFF." Paul Volcker's investigation showed that in 1997, while working for Annan, Strong had endorsed a check for $988,885, made out to "Mr. M. Strong," issued by a Jordanian bank. It was said that the check was hand delivered to him by South Korean businessman, Tongsun Park, who was later convicted in NY federal court for conspiring to bride a UN official to rig Oil-for-Food in favor of Saddam Hussein. More recently it appears that Maurice Strong was employed by the UN as "Senior Advisor to the 2012 Rio+20 Summit"
The Oil-for-Food program used an escrow system. Customers buying oil from Iraq under the program would pay the escrow account instead of the Iraqi government. Then after the various deductions, the Iraqis were allowed to buy selected items, like food, with the remaining funds. The bank that held the escrow account, and processed the billions in oil revenue, "for a price, Ugarte, for a price", was BNP Paris, whose main private share-holder is billionaire Nadmi Auchi. Remember that name when we get to the Obama connection. Oh yeah, there is one.
There was corruption all up and down the line but the basic money making scheme was that individuals and organizations friendly to the regime, or that could be bribed, were given oil contracts through OFF that they could then sell on the open market for a commission, part of which they would kick back to Saddam Hussein. At the same time, contracts to sell humanitarian goods to Iraq were given out based on the vendor's willingness to kick back a certain percentage to the Iraqi regime.
Cotecna Inspection S.A., a Swiss company, got one of the plump pieces of the whole deal. They got the very lucrative contract to inspect all the goods going into Iraq under OFF. What made it plum was not the amount of the actual payment from the UN but the amount of bribes that could be garnered by being the company that certified that the goods going in were acceptable.
Kojo Annan, the only son of Kofi Annan, worked for Cotecna starting in 1995, a few months after the UN adopted OFF but before the program actually started. It was said that his work focused in West Africa and obstinately, he had nothing to do with the company getting the UN contract. Then documentation that said otherwise started to come forward in June 2005. As I read the Wikipedia description, I am reminded of my own father's advise about "being penny wise and dollar stupid":
A July 1998 billing memo for Cotecna stated that Annan wrote that he should be reimbursed for eight days that included six days "during my father's visit to Nigeria". A fax dated August 28, 1998 included the statement, "Your work and the contacts established at this meeting should ideally be followed up at the September 1998 UN General Assembly in New York." A September 1998 hotel bill for the Holiday Inn Garden Court in Durban was paid for by Cotecna, while he was registered as being there for the United Nations. He used a calling card paid for by Cotecna to call from a phone that begins 212-963-XXXX, the same beginning number for most phones in the United Nations in New York City.That timing does not appear to be accidental, in a 5 year period after he left Cotecna he is believed to have received about $150,000 as compensation for not competing with them, or so we are told. As the NY Sun reported:
In September 1998, Kojo Annan met with several heads of state and government ministers during the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly. In December, Cotecna won a $4.8 million Oil-for-Food contract. Kojo Annan, Kofi Annan and Cotecna deny that the younger Annan was involved in the Oil-for-Food contract. Annan also claimed that connections with Cotecna severed after 1998, however Kojo continued to be paid by the company until February 2004.
The younger Annan stopped working for Cotecna in late 1998, but it now turns out that he continued to receive money from Cotecna not only through 1999, as recently reported, but right up until February of this year. The timing coincides with the entire duration of Cotecna's work for the U.N. oil-for-food program. It now appears the payments to the younger Annan ended three months after the U.N., in November, 2003, closed out its role in oil-for-food and handed over the remains of the program to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.When this scandal broke, it seemed like everyone at the UN pleaded ignorance. Specifically, Kofi Annan didn't know nothing. He didn't know his son had worked for Cotecna and he didn't even know that Cotecna had the contract with the UN. Again from Wikipedia:
In his first interview with the Inquiry Committee, Annan denied having had a meeting with Cotecna. Later in the inquiry, he recalled that he had met with Cotecna's chief executive Elie-Georges Massey twice. In a final report issued on 27 October, the committee found insufficient evidence to indict Kofi Annan on any illegal actions, but did find fault with Benan Sevan, a Cypriot national who had worked for the UN for about 40 yearsOthers did go down in the Oil for Food scandal but nothing stuck to Kofi. He was able to be honorable discharged from his duties as Secretary General in December 2006 and remain in good standing and available for multi-million dollar contracts with the UN like the one he is working on now.
Barack Obama's connection to "Food for Oil"
When Barack Obama bought his mansion on Chicago's South Side in 1995, the wife of Tony Rezko conveniently bought an adjoining landlocked parcel from the same seller on the same day. Tony Rezko had a reputation as Obama's bagman.
Tony Rezko holds dual US-Syrian citizenship and on May 23, 2005, he received a loan of $3.5 million that may have helped finance the Obama real estate deal. The loan came through a Panamanian company, Fintrade Services SA, but it originated with Nadhmi Auchi, whose BNP bank was the OFF escrow bank. Andrew Walden writes in the American Thinker:
The Auchi-Obama links go beyond the mansion deal. The Times of London February 1 reports uncovering, "state documents in Illinois recording that Fintrade Services, a Panamanian company, lent money to (an) Obama fundraiser in May 2005. Fintrade's directors include Ibtisam Auchi, the name of Mr. Auchi's wife."I am not implying that Obama has anything to do with Kofi Annan's dilemma or that Assad has anything on him, but since I found this in my research, I wanted to share it with you because I think it well illustrates the reach of the corruption spawned by the UN Oil for Food program.
The Syrian Connection
On July 29, 2005 OFF news.info ran a Washington Times editorial titled The "Food for Oil" Syrian connection. I have added the emphasis to this excerpt:
On Wednesday, officials from the State and Treasury departments and a former U.N. monitor who had tried to tighten the sanctions detailed in testimony before the House International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia how Syria funneled more than $3.4 billion in illicit oil money plus weaponry to the Iraqi dictator in the three years before his downfall. The highest levels of the Syrian government were involved. Given that the September 2004 Duelfer report estimated that Iraq earned about $5 billion in illicit oil sales in 2000-03, $3.4 billion would comprise more than two-thirds of the total, making Syria Iraq's most egregiously eager partner.A US State Department Cable from Damascus, 12 Aug 2006, published by WikiLeaks re-enforces the idea that none of this could happen without Assad's approval:
Syrians have been in the Iraqi oil trading business previously under the "oil for food program" with Saddam Hussein.
[long-time embassy contact, Hisham] Ayech insists that illicit fuel sales would be difficult for any Syrian to put together without the highest level of connections because of the increased security on the border and the three separate checks any vehicle traversing the two legal crossing points must pass through.
On that same recipient's list of illegal oil voucher payoffs from Saddam Hussein that we find Kofi Annan's OFF director, Benon Sevan on, we also find Firas Mostafa Tlass, son of Syria's defense minister and older brother of Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, who recently defected from Assad. Firas Mostafa Tlass, is an insider in the Assad regime who received vouchers for 6 million barrels of oil. Other Syrian representatives also received these secret oil vouchers from Saddam Hussein. All totaled, 6% of the oil vouchers went to Syria, as compared to 10% to China and 30% to Russia. US companies and individuals received between 2% and 3%. Benon Sevan got vouchers for 13 million barrels according to CFR.
It doesn't take much more than a look at the geography and the knowledge that Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Saddam Hussein in Iraq led sister Ba'ath Parties, to realize that Syria probably played a pretty big role in the "Oil for Food" scandal, and it did.
In point of fact, there were many Syrian connections to the oil for food scandal.
The Iraq embassy in Syria was designated a cash drop off point by Saddam Hussein.
The Syria-Iraq border crossing at Al-Waleed was designated one of four entry-points certified by Cotecna. That is one nexus between Kojo Annan's employer and Bashar al-Assad's country that we know for sure existed.
There was a multi-billion dollar cross-border smuggling business that kept Saddam Hussein supplied with weapons and other embargoed goods.
There was the unsanctioned fuel trucked into Syria and sold at "mobile" filling stations as well as crude oil for Syrian or other refineries, providing Saddam Hussein with the OFF-the-books income he could use to pay the bribes that greased the whole illicit system.
The Iraq sanctions made this cross border smuggling a very big business for three of Iraq's neighbors, Jordan, Turkey and Syria, although it is likely only in Syria was the state so heavily involved.
In the UN 661 Committee that oversaw OFF, the smuggling became a contentious issue because while the US was inclined to overlook the smuggling taking place in Turkey and Jordan and go after Syria, Russia and France were very protective of Syria. That is one reason little was done about it, the other was the rampant system of bribery and corruption throughout the program that encouraged people to look the other way. Also the 661 Committee operated on the consensus model so anyone familiar with our occupy movement GAs can easily understand why this committee was so ineffective.
The most important Syrian connect was an illegal pipeline that ran from Iraq to Syria, and because of the economies of scale it afforded, it became the main conduit for smuggled Iraqi oil. The pipeline stretched from Iraq's northern Kirkuk fields to the Mediterranean coast in Syria. It had been closed since 1980. In 1996 Iraq sought approval to use it but the UN nixed the deal so in 2000 Iraq and Syria got together to refurbish and reopen the pipeline secretly.
Well, actually, not so secretly. Everybody in the industry noted that Syria had almost doubled its oil output in a very short time and figured what was really doing on. The Volcker Commission found that all though the UN Secretariat had early and full knowledge of this sanctions violation and sale of oil outside of the Oil for Food program, no effective action was ever taken:
The reopening of the pipeline was widely reported in the press and also raised in the 661 Committee [UN committee overseeing OFF], but the 661 Committee dissolved in discord over how to respond. It could not agree even to send a letter of inquiry to Syria about the matter, much less to initiate any true investigation of the matter. Mgmt_V1.pdf - p.38The pipeline was soon to become Iraq's largest illegal oil export outlet. In the four years of OFF, Iraq would make more than 3 billion dollars in smuggling revenues from it and Syria would make a similar amount, $3.1321 billion, to be exact.
The biggest problem that the commission found was that Kofi Annan and his staff were clearly aware of these kickback schemes and yet they kept them hidden from the Security Council:
...the Secretary-General explained that he believed that he acted properly. The fact remains, however, that despite multiple opportunities, the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General, and Mr. Sevan never formally reported the kickback scheme to the Security Council through quarterly reports or otherwise. Mgmt_V1.pdf - p.52And apparently they didn't see the illegal Syrian pipeline as a problem:
The Deputy Secretary-Generals claim, when interviewed, that there were no issues requiring her attention is at odds with her own concessions that she knew at the time of significant Programme-related issues. For example, the Deputy Secretary-General was well aware of the Iraqi regimes smuggling of oil and told the Committee that, as of November 2000, the re-opening of the Syrian pipeline diverted revenue streams away from the United Nations humanitarian effort. Mgmt_V1.pdf - p.51And they did not raise it with the Security Council or do anything about it.
In time, the nature and details of Iraqs oil smuggling would become even clearer to the Secretariat, particularly in regards to illegal exports to Turkey and Syria, but the silence on the issue continued. Mgmt_V3.pdf - p.156Like the song "50 ways to leave your lover", the 630 page Volcker Commission report goes on and on about all the ways Kofi Annan and his staff had to know that the Iraq was using the Syrian pipeline to smuggle oil outside of OFF and the sanctions regime. I won't bore you with all those details but I will assure you that their conclusions were more than warranted:
As the foregoing chronology of events makes clear, senior officials within the Secretariat, including Secretary-General Annan, Deputy Secretary-General Fréchette, Mr. Riza, and Mr. Sevan, were well aware of the extensive information regarding oil smuggling by the Iraqi regime. Moreover, the Secretariat acknowledged that the smuggling activities blatantly violated the sanctions regime in Iraq and undeniably had a negative impact on the implementation of the humanitarian program. Mgmt_V3.pdf - p.165That last part is important because it must be remembered that OFF was suppose to be a form of "humanitarian relief," and instead people at the highest level of the UN collaborated with Middle-East dictators and unscrupulous capitalists to turn it into a cash cow for themselves at the expense of the Iraqi people it was suppose to serve.
If one accepts the logic that the Iraq sanctions were an alternative to war, and because of poor UN oversight, Saddam Hussein was able to game the system and the sanctions failed, thus bringing on the war, then Kofi Annan's hands are stained with the blood of that war as well because of this.
The Volcker Commission report sums up :
The question distills to what efforts OIP [UN Office of the Iraq Program, OFF was under OIP -ed.] undertook to curtail, or at least expose, Iraqs oil smuggling practices. Put simply, the Secretariat and OIP did very little. Mgmt_V3.pdf - p.166The mafia would kill you anyway with a story like that but in the high brow diplomatic circles of the UN, you can beg incompetence and walk. Unless a smoking gun shows up. Unless somebody can show that you took a bribe, were actually in on the fix or crossed some other red line. But Kofi Annan didn't get to be where he is by being stupid, so it is hard to believe he didn't know what was going on with regards to his Deputy SG Fréchette and his Program Director Sevan and the Syrian pipeline. Proving it, now that's a different matter, and that's the rock upon which the Volcker Commission floundered.
Given the tone established at the highest levels within the Secretariat, it follows that OIP did not sufficiently address reports of oil smuggling during the life of the Programme. To be sure, OIP was aware of the Iraqi regimes smuggling operations; however, the Secretariat distanced itself from the smuggling issue and refused to take action. While she was clearly informed of the matter, Deputy Secretary-General Fréchette did not offer Mr. Sevan any guidance regarding smuggling, particularly as to the Syrian pipeline. Mgmt_V3.pdf - p.167
But then there is also this in the Volcker report:
Secretary-General Annan explained to the Committee that he recalled the issue of oil smuggling to Syria... Secretary-General Annan generally recalled discussing the matter with members of the Security Council, as well as Syrian officials,... Mgmt_V3.pdf - p.163Now, it would be particularly interesting to know who those Syrian officials were and the nature of the discussions that Kofi Annan had with them because if their recollection of those discussions or their relationship with the Secretary General differ significantly from what Kofi Annan has already testified it was to the Volcker Commission and numerous other inquiries into the "Oil for Food" scandal, then I think we can answer the question I raised in the title in the affirmative. Yes, Bashar al-Assad "has something" on Kofi Annan.
How is it that Kofi Annan has risen so high up in diplomatic circles while leading humanitarian failure after failure? The answer is because that's what the great powers hire him for. Wherever people are dying en masse, whether it be a quick death from a gun or a blade, as in Rwanda, Bosnia or Syria, or a slow death from starvation, as in Iraq, Kofi Annan can be counted upon to lead a completely ineffective humanitarian relief effort and to look good while doing it.
I have not found any incriminating documents associated with OFF that have Kofi Annan's name on it, nor have I found any documents with Bashar al-Assad's name on it. When you operate at a certain level you personally don't have to get your hands dirty. That's why they can look so like the sophisticated couple when they sit together.
But I have found the names of Annan cronies and Assad cronies on the same list, implicating them as being partners in the same criminal enterprise. That may not yet be the proverbial "smoking gun" but surely it is enough, when considered with everything else, to take Kofi Annan off this case and try another approach.
Kofi Annan should quit the special Envoy's post immediately and if he doesn't quit, he should be removed. The world must take a new approach to the Syrian crisis and there are a thousand diplomats better qualified to lead it than Kofi Annan.