News / Middle East

Brahimi: Syria Becoming Warlord-run Failed State

FILE - An Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra fighter.
FILE - An Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra fighter.
Reuters
Syria is descending into a Somalia-style failed state run by warlords which poses a grave threat to the future of the Middle East, former peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has said.
 
Brahimi, who stepped down a week ago after the failure of peace talks he mediated in Geneva, said that without concerted efforts for a political solution to Syria's brutal civil war, “there is a serious risk that the entire region will blow up.”
 
“The conflict is not going to stay inside Syria,” he told Der Spiegel magazine in an interview published during the weekend.
 
More than 160,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which grew out of protests against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011, inspired by uprisings in the wider Arab world.
 
Brahimi said many countries misjudged the Syrian crisis, expecting Assad's rule to crumble as some other Arab leaders' had done, a mistake they compounded by supporting “the war effort instead of the peace effort.”
 
The civil war has drawn in powerful regional states, with Sunni Gulf monarchies and Turkey supporting the rebels and foreign jihadis. Shi'ite Iran, Lebanon's Hezbollah and Iraqi Shi'ites back Assad.
 
Major powers at the United Nations have also been divided, paralyzing diplomatic efforts. Assad's Western foes have pressed for action against Syrian authorities, but Russia and China have vetoed draft resolutions against Syrian authorities.
 
Brahimi, who resigned as United Nations special envoy for Afghanistan in 1999, drew comparisons between Syria now and Afghanistan under Taliban rule in the lead-up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
 
“The U.N. Security Council had no interest in Afghanistan, a small country, poor, far away. I said one day it's going to blow up in your faces. It did,” he said. “Syria is so much worse.”
 
He also compared it to Somalia, which has suffered more than two decades of conflict. “It will not be divided, as many have predicted. It's going to be a failed state, with warlords all over the place.”
 
Assad's forces have consolidated their grip over central Syria but swathes of its northern and eastern provinces are controlled by hundreds of rebel brigades, including the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and other powerful Islamist groups.
 
Opposition ‘likely used chemical weapons’
 
War crimes were committed daily by both sides in Syria, with starvation used as a weapon of war, civilians held as human shields and chemical weapons used in battle, Brahimi said.
 
Rebels appeared to have been behind at least one incident in Aleppo province in March 2013, he said.
 
“From the little I know, it does seem that in Khan al-Assal, in the north, the first time chemical weapons were used, there is a likelihood it was used by the opposition,” said Brahimi.
 
U.N. investigators have not made direct accusations about responsibility for several chemical attacks, including a sarin attack which killed hundreds outside Damascus last August.
 
However, a team of human rights experts said three months ago the Khan al-Assal and Damascus perpetrators “likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military.”
 
Brahimi's failed peace effort focused on persuading the United States and Russia to bring together the government and opposition in Geneva. In the end, getting them to sit down in the same room yielded nothing.
 
“Neither Russia nor the U.S. could convince their friends to participate in the negotiations with serious intent,” he told the magazine, adding that the two parties came “screaming and kicking”, against their will.
 
The government negotiating team only went to Geneva to please Moscow, he said, believing that they were winning the war militarily. Most of the opposition also preferred to settle the conflict on the battlefield, and arrived completely unprepared.
 
Brahimi said Saudi Arabia and Iran, the main powers on either side of the region's Sunni-Shi'ite Muslim divide, had “to start discussing not how to help warring parties, but how to help the Syrian people [and] their neighbors.”
 
But despite hints at rapprochement the two powers remain wary of each other. Saudi Arabia also refused to meet Brahimi, making his task of forging a consensus nearly impossible.
 
“I think they didn't like what I was saying about a peaceful and negotiated settlement with concessions from both sides,” Brahimi said.

You May Like

Video British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Multimedia Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid