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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in public More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid