Major General Robert Mood of Norway has been selected to lead the United Nations’ support team for UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan in Syria. His duties will include preparations for a UN observation force in Syria that’s currently under evaluation by the UN Security Council.
Mood, who’s originally from Kragerø on Norway’s southern coast, will lead a team of military experts that’s expected to soon travel to Damascus for talks with both sides in the violent conflict between the Syrian regime and opposition forces. The team will evaluate the situation on the ground and the prospects for deploying an unarmed force of international observers.
The goal is to end all forms of armed violence, secure humanitarian aid and support political reforms. The embattled Syrian regime recently accepted Annan’s six-point plan for Syria, including a withdrawal of Syrian military from populated areas by next Tuesday. Now the regime is expected to abide by its agreement.
“Norway is giving its full support to Annan’s peace plan,” said Norwegian Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide. He said he was “very glad” that Mood was asked to help Annan “in his important work.”
Eide said Mood had extensive knowledge of the region and lengthy experience with UN operations in troubled areas. Until last spring, he was chief of the UN’s observer mission in the Middle East (UNTSO – United Nations Truce Supervision Organization) and he currently leads the Norwegian defense department’s veteran services.
Mood characterized his new job as “adviser” for Kofi Annan. He said he was asked to take the post by both the UN and the Norwegian military, and he agreed because “this is all about finding out how we in practice can halt the violence on the ground in Syria. When you’re asked to contribute towards stopping the violence, it’s impossible to say ‘no.’”
He also said that being asked to take on the UN post was “an enormous recognition of the job Norwegian women and men, our veterans, have done around the world for the UN and with a UN mandate.”
Mood is also a former inspector general for the Norwegian army. An estimated 9,000 Syrians have been killed in the violence that began last spring.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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