Lakhdar Brahimi: Algeria has moral responsibility to help Libya

The former United Nations and Arab League peace envoy’s strong words will have huge international repercussions

Nabila Ramdani
Nabila Ramdani - Special to Al Arabiya News, Algiers
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Lakhdar Brahimi, one of the most influential Algerians in the world today, has insisted that his country has a ‘moral responsibility’ to help solve the growing security crisis in Libya.

The former United Nations and Arab League peace envoy’s strong words will have huge international repercussions, especially as it goes against the grain of Algeria’s famously non-interventionist foreign policy.

Speaking at the prominent Fikra (Idea) Conference in Algiers this week, Brahimi said: “Algeria has a role to play in North Africa and especially towards Libya.

“The Libyan people are our neighbours and Algeria has a moral responsibility to help end the violence in the country”.

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants produced a deeply disturbing video of Egyptian Christian workers being beheaded in Libya last week.

Brahimi told the Algiers Conference, which focused on inspiring young people to succeed: “Muslim majority countries have to ask themselves what leads to terrorism, and try to find a solution to the problem.”

He continued: “Western governments, and the United States in particular, are responsible for the rise of ISIS.

“There is no doubt that the original sin which led to the emergence of ISIS is the US-led invasion of Iraq. There was no justification for the war in Iraq, and we all suffer the consequences.

“Daesh or ISIS will be defeated - not just through bombardment from the air, but through a political process in Iraq, Syria and Libya which is now at the forefront of the new War on Terror.”

The former Algerian diplomat addressed the Conference, attended by 1500 people and broadcast live to universities, about the difficulty of his U.N. peace missions to countries such Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.

Brahimi stepped down from his role in Damascus last year, failing to find a peaceful solution to the Syrian civil war which has now claimed some 210,000 lives.

His resignation was largely prompted by frustration at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's plans to hold an election last June.

Addressing the media at the U.N., Brahimi expressed his regrets saying: “Apologies once more that we haven't been able to help [the Syrian people] as much as they deserve, as much as we should have, and also to tell them that the tragedy in their country should be solved... they have shown incredible resilience and dignity.”

Back at the Fikra conference in Algiers at the weekend, Brahimi said: “I believe that international interest in Syria is coming back, but the responsibility to sort out the problem lies mainly in the region.

“The break-up of Syria is in nobody’s interest and it is to be feared that this is a possibility. That’s why it is hugely important that the regional powers wake up and do something about it.”

Brahimi said the situation in both Iraq and Syria was “a catastrophe that concerns us all in the region and in the world.”

Speaking about the cataclysmic situation in Syria, Brahimi said: “The Syrian people are deeply unhappy and they do not deserve what is happening to them.

“Syria is a particularly desperate case and the U.N. has a responsibility there. The Syrian government has not changed its initial position.

“As far as they’re concerned what is happening in Syria is a foreign conspiracy. There are more than 1,200 armed groups in the country.”

“There is certainly external interference in Syria from both neighbouring countries and great powers who have interests to protect.”

Brahimi said Syrians were “first and foremost the victims of a family government that has been in place for more than 40 years and are also the victims of foreign interference.”

In regards to the United Nations – which is being asked by Libya to lift an arms embargo – Brahimi said: “There is no doubt that the role of the U.N. needs to be strengthened.”

Referring to the Elders, an independent group of global leaders working together for peace and human rights, Brahimi added:

“During a meeting of the Elders in Munich last week, I called for the U.N. and the Security Council to be reformed. It is a necessary reform. The U.N. is an indispensable body but sometimes unsatisfactory.”

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