News / Middle East

UN Syrian Envoy: Syria 'Breaking Apart'

UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, January 11, 2013.
UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, January 11, 2013.
Margaret Besheer
The United Nations-Arab League envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, warned Tuesday that Syria “is being destroyed” and called on a divided U.N. Security Council to take action to prevent the situation from escalating further.  

Brahimi held private talks with the 15-nation Security Council for two hours.  Afterwards, he told reporters that he is calling on the council to put aside its differences and take action.

“Syria is being destroyed bit-by-bit," said Brahimi. "And in destroying Syria, the region is being pushed into a situation that is extremely bad and extremely important for the entire world.  That is why I believe the Security Council simply cannot continue to say we are in disagreement, therefore, let’s wait for better times.  I think they have got to grapple with this problem now.”

The council has been bitterly divided for nearly a year over how to address the crisis.  Russia and China have three times vetoed resolutions obstructing council action, garnering international criticism for shielding President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

  • A girl waves the revolutionary Syrian flag during a protest against President Bashar al-Assad in front of the Syrian embassy to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the 1982 Hama massacre, in Amman, Jordan, February 1, 2013.
  • Dutch student Wijbe Abma, 21, right, has raised more than $17,000 to buy warm blankets for the Syrian refugees, delivering the aid through local activists and rebel groups.
  • Anti-Syrian regime protesters flash the victory sign as they hold a banner during a demonstration, at Kafr Nabil town, in Idlib province, northern Syria, February 1, 2013.
  • Syrian citizens pray over the bodies of those who were found dead next to a river last Tuesday and who were not identified by their relatives, in Aleppo, Syria on January 31, 2013.
  • The bodies of dozens of men, many of them with their hands bound behind their backs, were found on the muddy banks of a small river January 29, 2013 in the northern city of Aleppo.
  • Relatives and Free Syrian Army fighters bury the body of Ammar Al-Achaqer, who activists said was killed by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, near Homs, Syria, January 29, 2013. (Shaam News Network)
  • An internally displaced boy looks out of a school at a village outside Damascus, January 28, 2013.
  • This image taken from video shows a Free Syrian Army fighter speaking in front of a government intelligence complex in Deir el-Zour, Syria, January 29, 2013. (Ugarit News)
  • A Free Syrian Army soldier flashes the victory sign as damage caused by warplanes and rocket launchers is seen at background in Hama, Syria, January 28, 2013. Image taken from video.
  • Syrian refugees search for their belongings at a burned tent at the Al Zaatari Syrian refugee camp, January 28, 2013.

The United Nations estimates that more than 60,000 people have died as a result of the nearly two-year-old conflict, and the toll continues to rise.  Hours before Brahimi addressed the Security Council in New York, Syrians worked to retrieve and identify the bodies of dozens of young men bound and executed and dumped in a river in Aleppo.

Brahimi said the communiqué that came out of an international meeting on Syria last June in Geneva provides many elements of what is needed for a political solution to the crisis, but that it needs further Security Council action to be implemented.

He said one critical element is the creation of a transitional governing body with full executive powers, but that the authors of the communiqué were deliberately ambiguous about it and must be specific now.

“That ambiguity has to be lifted now," he said. "You’ve got to say what these full executive powers mean.  And for me, and I think for many people, it means exactly that - all powers of state have to go to that [transitional] government.”

The veteran diplomat, who took up his post after former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan quit in frustration in August, dismissed rumors that he is considering resigning.  He said the United Nations has no choice but to remain engaged on this crisis and that he would continue to persevere.

The envoy said he would continue his discussions Tuesday night over dinner with the ambassadors of the permanent five members of the Security Council.

On Wednesday, international donors will meet in Kuwait to pledge funds for Syrians affected by the crisis.  The United Nations has appealed for $1.5 billion to assist some 5 million people inside and outside the country for the next six months.  The United States has already announced it will give an additional $155 million to help meet urgent humanitarian needs.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
January 30, 2013 5:18 AM
Russia and China are criminals in this case and most of the victims are on them.

by: david lulasa from: tambua,hamisi,vihiga,keny
January 30, 2013 5:10 AM
its now time for both sides,pro and anti syria to try to understand each otheras perspective,though assads side must have had a perspective that sees syria vulnerable because of the free syrian forces and protesters,thats actually a perspective led by selfishness,the truth is that assad and his group dont have the word fair and satisfied in their vocabulary,its they who are destroying syria and the world and so the whole world including russia and china must show such a fair concern as this of brahimi....and everyone hopes other powers such as USA will join hands with the chinese and russians and not just to always want to be in different sides with them.

by: Anonymous
January 29, 2013 9:16 PM
The Arab League should take the lead, and Nato should back the Arab League. Everytime the west gets involved they get criticized , damned if they do, damned if they don't. The only thing that stopped the West from already disabling Bashar al Assad was Russia and China. How can the Arab League sit back and watch the country of Syria become destroyed and thousands murdered. The Arab League needs to stand tall. Ideally it would be great to see the Arab League help bring Bashar al Assad to the ICC to face crimes against humanity/murder/and genocide.

Would Russia allow anyone to help the Syrian people?
Or does Russia still have their stance on making the Syrian people suffer? Of course nobody wants ww3 OR genocide to take place. If Russia is still blocking the Syrian people from achieving help to get rid of Tyrant Bashar al Assad, then Russia will show they do not care about the people of Syria, and are enabling genocide.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs