U.N. Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi presses Russia on ‘political solution’ to Syrian conflict
United Nations and Arab League Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is pressing Russia to help bring about a “political solution” to the Syrian conflict.
Brahimi met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Dublin, Ireland on Thursday to discuss ways to end the civil war in Syria.
“We have discussed therefore the situation in Syria and we have also talked a little bit about how we can work out, hopefully, a process that will get Syria back from the brink, to put together a peace process that will be based on Geneva [the Geneva Communiqué],” said Brahimi. “We haven’t taken any sensational decisions but I think we have agreed that the situation is bad and we have agreed that we must continue to work together to see how we can find creative ways of bringing this problem under control and hopefully starting to solve it.”
The Geneva Communique sets forth a framework for a peaceful “Syrian-led transition” followed by the drafting of a new constitution and free and fair elections.
For 21 months, opposition forces seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al Assad have fought bloody battles against government troops. Assad’s forces have conducted airstrikes and used heavy weaponry, including tanks and mortars, against civilians and rebels. The violence has killed about 40,000 people and forced nearly half a million Syrians to flee to neighboring countries.
Russia, one of the few remaining allies of Syria, has blocked an attempt by the U.N. Security Council in July to impose sanctions against the Assad regime for committing atrocities.
But for the U.N. to take any substantive actions, it needs Russia’s support or, at the very least, convince Russia not to exercise its veto power in the Security Council.
That’s why Brahimi is trying to persuade Russia to back the U.N. peace efforts. Brahimi’s meeting with Lavrov took place about a week after he warned that Syria is at risk of becoming a “failed state” if a political resolution is not reached soon.
“Either a political process that leads to the creation of a new Syria with a new political dispensation that puts an end to the present tragedy, satisfies the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people to dignity, freedom, democracy, social justice, and equality between all its citizens and preserves the sovereignty and unity of the country or Syria becomes a failed state with all the predictable dire consequences for the people of Syria, for the entire region, and for international peace and security,” Brahimi told the U.N. General Assembly on Nov. 30. “Nobody wishes to see a failed state in Syria. Nobody wants to see the state and its institutions withering away, lawlessness spreading, warlordism, banditry, narcotics, arms smuggling, and – worst of all – the ugly face of communal and sectarian strife take hold of Syria…The only option everyone should hope for and work for is a negotiated political process.”
At the General Assembly briefing, Brahimi pointed out that parts of the Geneva Communique will “need to be translated into a Security Council resolution” in order for a peaceful political transition to take place.
In particular, Brahimi stressed that a “large, robust peace-keeping force” is needed to observe the transition process given that “there is no trust between the parties” or between the current government and the Syrian opposition.
But any U.N. peace-keeping force will have be authorized by the Security Council, which is why gaining Russia’s support on Syria peace plan is so important.
“I know that first attempt has failed. But that first attempt to craft a resolution failed does not mean it will be impossible for other attempts to succeed,” said Brahimi. “Difficult as it has been for the Council to reach consensus on an implementable roadmap for Syria, I nevertheless feel that it is here – and only here – that a credible, implementable process can be put together.”
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