UN envoy: ME picture is 'getting darker'

Warns of regional war; claims diplomacy is unlikely in the foreseeable future .

terje roed larsen 298.88 (photo credit: Associated Press)
terje roed larsen 298.88
(photo credit: Associated Press)
UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen raised an "alarm" about the situation in the Middle East, warning that the region faces the possibilities of full-scale war, a fresh effort to contain the current violence, or energetic diplomacy to try to bring lasting peace. "The picture which emerges is very dark, and apparently getting darker," he told reporters on Monday. "So there are reasons for real concerns in the international community." Roed-Larsen, the current UN envoy for Lebanon-Syria issues who for many years was the top UN Mideast envoy, said "the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East has changed fundamentally over a few years." "A few years ago, as it had been over many, many decades, the center of gravity for all the conflicts were the Israeli-Arab conflicts," he said. "Now, there seems to be four epicenters of conflict in the region with their own dynamics, the Iraqi issues, the Iranian issues, the Syrian-Lebanese issues, and of course the heart of hearts, the traditional conflict, the Palestinian-Israeli issue."
  • UNSC concerned arms flowing from Syria to Lebanon "The new phenomenon seems to be that all these conflicts are now completely intertwined so that it is very difficult, maybe impossible, to find a solution to one of them without finding a solution to all of them," he told reporters after briefing the UN Security Council. Roed-Larsen called the current situation "alarming" and said there are three alternatives. "One is that we continue on the path of violence - the kind of mildest one being that we continue on the slippery slope of violence that we've seen not only in Lebanon but also in Gaza, West Bank, Iraq and elsewhere in the region," he said. "The other one is that it leads to a full confrontation, and worst case to a regional confrontation with arms." The second option is "energetic diplomacy" by the international community to address the underlying problems, he said. Roed-Larsen said this is "extremely difficult" today because the four conflicts in the Middle East are separate, but have become entwined. "Hopefully there is still a possibility to address this diplomatically and with peaceful means," he said. "However, that this will happen in the very foreseeable future is not that likely." The third option, he said, is "a vigorous containment policy which stems the slide on the slippery slope" and moves to address "broader regional tensions."