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 and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora