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

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition 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.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs