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

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid