By Benjamin Villanti
By Benjamin Villanti
Morocco World News
UNITED NATIONS, December 3, 2012
Lakdhar Brahimi was in New York last week to brief the Security Council and United Nations General Assembly on his mediation efforts to resolve the conflict in Syria.
The UN and Arab League envoy repeated his call for the Security Council to overcome its divisions to adopt a resolution calling on the opposition and government to engage in a political transition based on the Geneva Communique. Brahimi, also, shared for the first time publicly his view that any cessation of violence, that would be necessary to implement a political transition, would require monitoring by “a large, robust Peacekeeping Force.”
Addressing the General Assembly Friday, the seasoned diplomat quoted the former US diplomat, Henry Kissinger who observed, “A conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerilla army wins if it does not lose.” “Kissigner’s formula,” stated Brahimi, “tells us that that Government of Syria shall not win this confrontation and that the Opposition shall not lose it.”
As previously reported by Morocco World News in October, Brahimi considers the Geneva Communiqué, which was agreed to by the five permanent members of the Security Council and various regional countries, as providing the “building blocks” or roadmap for resolving the 19-month long conflict. In particular, the UN envoy cites the transitional government authority, called for in the agreement from last June, that is to be composed of both members of the opposition and government and have “full executive powers,” while a new constitution is drafted eventually leading to elections.
Brahimi pressed the Security Council during his Thursday briefing to adopt a resolution endorsing the Geneva Communiqué, which would give the plan the authority of international law. “Then we can take it to the parties and say let us start now putting together a peaceful process that is going to end the conflict,” explained Brahimi Thursday night on the Charlie Rose Show after briefing the Security Council earlier in the day.
He reiterated during his two briefings that just because the Security Council could not agree on a resolution this past July, “It does not mean it will be impossible for other attempts to succeed,” which he stressed is the only organizational body capable of starting this political process.
In addition to a resolution, Brahimi has been trying to convince the two sides to abandon their military logic by pressing on them that to prevail militarily, the destruction of Syria, including of infrastructure, government institutions and loss of life, will be so great that the costs of victory would exceed the benefits. “Nobody wishes to see a failed state in Syria … and, worst of all, the ugly face of communal and sectarian strife take hold of Syria,” exhorted Brahimi before the General Assembly, which he claimed was the only alternative he foresaw for Syria if the two sides do not follow a process for a political transition.
Moreover during his interview on the Charlie Rose Show last week, Brahimi acknowledged that the Russians are not committed to Assad. But the Russians will not accept imposing a plan that predetermines Assad’s future, which the Russian government claims the Syrian people must decide among themselves. Hence, the caveat in the Geneva Communiqué of a transitional governing body that is formed out of “mutual consent.”
Brahimi also told Charlie Rose that he was not opposed to the possibility of Assad remaining in Syria after the conflict. While perhaps this was the required view of a mediator, Brahimi stated that he would like to see an end to the cycle in the Arab World where leaders are only replaced by forcing them from the country. “What we need in our part of the world…is that somebody can leave power and continue to live in that country,” the envoy stated. He acknowledged the difficulty in reconciling this with calls that Assad be held accountable for the actions of his government.
One senior diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said last week that the question of Assad participating in a transitional government, which the opposition opposes, is one of the main obstacles to implementing Geneva. It will require “imagination” by Brahimi, claimed the diplomat, to bridge this difference over the role of the leader in a transition.
Benjamin Villanti is Morocco World News Co-editor