U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s current mission in Syria has frozen in its tracks due to the military escalation, the lack of international consensus, and the belief among both the Syrian regime and the opposition that a military victory is possible. Nevertheless, the potential failure of Brahimi will drag Syria further into a protracted civil war before any agreement on a new power structure can be reached.
Brahimi, a seasoned diplomat who oversaw key regional crisis from Lebanon to Afghanistan to Iraq, took the Syria portfolio last August on the premise that he can find enough international support to end the conflict. That so far has displaced 600,000 people and taken 60,000 lives. Brahimi’s bet was on closing the gap between the U.S. and Russia by having them agree on a post-Assad transition framework, and then pressure the regime in Damascus into accepting it. Six months later, neither was achieved. The U.S. and Russia are still in disagreement over the role of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in any future transition, and the fighting has only raged around the country and the capital. Brahimi’s repeated trips to Syria faced more scrutiny from the regime, leading to a verbal confrontation with Assad in their last meeting on December 24th.
Brahimi’s bet was on closing the gap between the U.S. and Russia by having them agree on a post-Assad transition framework, and then pressure the regime in Damascus into accepting itJoyce Karam
Media reports close to the regime indicated that Assad snubbed Brahimi’s request to transfer his full authority to a transitional government and did not appreciate the envoy’s voicing doubts about his prospects of running again in 2014. Assad called the meeting to an end after telling Brahimi that he does not see himself as “a captain of who flees the ship when it starts shaking”.
The status of the opposition does not help Brahimi’s in his task either. Almost two years into the conflict, the “National Coalition” -the main political opposition body - is still struggling to form a transitional government, a key element to grant it ground access and give it international legitimacy. The armed opposition, for its part, is also engulfed in its own divisions between the more radical groups such as Jubhat Nusra, and the more secular units inside the Free Syria Army. Jubhat Nusra labeled as “terrorist” by the U.S. administration, has gained ground in the last few months, after carrying key attacks against the regime in Idlib province and around Damascus.
Assad called the meeting to an end after telling Brahimi that he does not see himself as 'a captain of who flees the ship when it starts shaking'Joyce Karam