New UN envoy to Syria: Mission 'nearly impossible'

Lakhdar Brahimi, Kofi Annan's replacement, admits he is "scared of the weight of responsibility" on his shoulders.

By REUTERS
September 3, 2012 10:37
2 minute read.
Veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi

Veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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LONDON - Diplomatic attempts to end the Syrian conflict are "nearly impossible" and not enough is being done to end the fighting, the new UN and Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said in a BBC interview broadcast on Monday.

"I know how difficult it is - how nearly impossible. I can't say impossible - nearly impossible," Brahimi, an Algerian diplomat, told the BBC. "And we are not doing much. That in itself is a terrible weight."

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Brahimi replaced Kofi Annan as the United Nations and Arab League joint special representative on Syria at the end of August. Annan stepped down after blaming "finger-pointing and name-calling" at the UN Security Council for hampering efforts to find a breakthrough in the conflict.

Around 20,000 people have been killed during a 17-month uprising against Syria's President Bashar Assad.

Brahimi said he was "scared of the weight of responsibility" on his shoulders and was aware that not enough is being done to end the violence through diplomacy.

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"People are already saying 'people are dying and what are you doing?' And we are not doing much. That in itself is a terrible weight," he told the BBC in an interview conducted in English.

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Brahimi said he felt like he was "standing in front of a brick wall", looking for cracks that may yield a solution. "I'm coming into this job with my eyes open, and (with) no illusions," he said.

Meanwhile, Syria said on Monday that Brahimi could only make headway if outside countries ceased helping rebels opposed to President Bashar Assad and instead declared support for a UN-backed peace plan.

Kofi Annan drew up the six-point plan for Syria, but a ceasefire he declared on April 12 failed to take hold. Violence has worsened since then.

"The conditions for success for Lakhdar Brahimi in his mission is for specific countries - Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey - to announce their commitment to the six-point plan and completely stop sending weapons (to rebels) and close borders to fighters and close fighter training camps," Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoabi told a news conference in Damascus.

Damascus verbally accepted Annan's plan in April, but failed to implement its main call for an end to violence and a pullout of Syrian troops and heavy weapons from towns and cities.

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