News / Middle East

UN Envoy: No Plan Yet for Saving Syria

Lakhdar Brahimi, center, special representative for Syria, arrives at closed door Security Council consultations, U.N. headquarters, New York, Sept.  24,  2012.
Lakhdar Brahimi, center, special representative for Syria, arrives at closed door Security Council consultations, U.N. headquarters, New York, Sept. 24, 2012.
Margaret Besheer, Edward YeranianJeff Seldin
Reform is not enough for Syria, it needs change, according to new U.N.-Arab League special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi.  The envoy made the remarks after briefing the Security Council Monday on his recent trip to the region.

U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said the situation in Syria, where more than 20,000 people have died, more than a million have been made homeless, and more than two million are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, is extremely bad and getting worse.  But he said he hopes to find an opening for progress soon. 

“I refuse to believe that reasonable people do not see that you cannot go backward . That you cannot go back to the Syria of the past.  But, I told everyone in Damascus and elsewhere, that reform is not enough anymore, what is needed is change," he said.

After taking up his post three weeks ago, following Kofi Annan’s resignation, Brahimi went to Damascus, Cairo, and to refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan. 

He repeated that he has no formal plan for achieving a breakthrough, but the veteran diplomat said he has a few ideas and plans to return to the region soon.  Until he has a plan, he said he would continue working with Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan and the June 30 communique of a meeting of states in Geneva that urged a cessation of hostilities and movement toward a political transition. 

The former Algerian foreign minister and U.N. diplomat also acknowledged the divisions within the Syrian opposition, but said they are working to bridge their differences. “I know that the members of Syrian opposition are still trying.  Their attempts have been disappointing until now, I am sure they will not mind me saying so.  I think their friends also are encouraging them to do better," he said. 

Brahimi also acknowledged the paralysis in the U.N. Security Council on Syria, where Russia and China have three times used their veto to block Council action, saying if he is not seen as representing a united Council he is “nothing.”
 
Continuing violence

Deaths Across Syria, map dated September 17, 2012Deaths Across Syria, map dated September 17, 2012
x
Deaths Across Syria, map dated September 17, 2012
Deaths Across Syria, map dated September 17, 2012
Brahimi's briefing came during another day of violence in Syria.

Syrian government warplanes continued their bombing campaign in and around the major city of Aleppo, pounding civilian districts and causing a number of casualties.
 
Amateur video showed neighbors and rescue workers clawing through the rubble of a collapsed building, searching for survivors. Chunks of concrete and wooden doors dangled overhead as the crowd picked through the debris.
 
Witnesses say a government warplane dropped what local residents call a “barrel bomb” over several buildings in Aleppo Monday, causing them to collapse.
 
For months now, analysts say the government appears to be using large metal barrels filled with explosives and shrapnel to destroy buildings.
 
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the opposition Local Coordination Committees said the early morning strikes destroyed two buildings in the southern part of the city.
 
Elsewhere, video from Homs, shown on the Al Jazeera television network, showed smoke rising from parts of the city, amid reports of more shelling and fighting there.
 
Collective violence
 
Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, said government forces are inflicting collective violence on the population out of desperation.
 
"It goes without saying: that's collective punishment and massive destruction," he said. "Syrian MiGs are not known for being precision fighter jets and they don't have military targets to use missiles. The fact that government troops are using maximum firepower indicates despair."
 
Pro-government Addounia TV claimed that regime forces recaptured territory inside Aleppo from rebel fighters, showing a group of soldiers running across a street filled with debris. The report also showed images of the local governor's office, saying it had been retaken from rebels.
 
The television channel also interviewed several people who said they are from a neighborhood “liberated” by government troops. One middle-aged man told the pro-government station that life is better when the government is in control.
 
In Damascus, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi said the rebels are headed for defeat.
 
"It is only a matter of time, and it won't be long," he said. "We are heading for a definite victory and it will be achieved very soon. Anyone who is betting against this (victory) whether military, political or security, will fail and is stupid, an idiot or a conspirator."
 
UN food aid
 
Meanwhile, there are some indications international efforts are starting to make a difference, including those by the U.N.'s World Food Program in Homs.
 
Syria Refugees Flee Areas of ConflictSyria Refugees Flee Areas of Conflict
x
Syria Refugees Flee Areas of Conflict
Syria Refugees Flee Areas of Conflict
Country Director Muhannad Hadi said despite the ongoing violence, the WFP remains determined.
 
"This is one of the areas in Homs that sustained a lot of damage," he said. "WFP provides food assistance to the people who live there and will provide more assistance to the people who decide to return."
 
The WFP estimates 223,000 people are relying on its help as they live in shelters and mosques.
 
The United Nations says more than 260,000 Syrians have fled to neighboring countries during the 18 months of conflict. There are also thought to be more than 1.2 million people displaced inside Syria, and 2.5 million in need of humanitarian assistance.
 
- Edward Yeranian reported from Cairo and Jeff Seldin reported from Washington.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

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 Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein 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 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 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.

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