Brahimi’s frank reflections on the Syria conflict – and its regional dimensions

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Thursday, 3 July, 2014

Nigel Pearce, Senior Middle East Analyst for The Elders, recommends an in-depth and revealing interview in which Lakhdar Brahimi discusses his ultimately unsuccessful efforts as peace envoy to Syria.

Lakhdar Brahimi
Photo: UN Photo | Evan Schneider

In June 2014, shortly after resigning as United Nations and Arab League Special Representative to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi gave an in-depth and revealing interview to the pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper. The interview was republished in Al-Monitor in three parts on 26, 27 and 29 June:

In the interview, Brahimi explains why he took on the job, despite its “impossibility”, and how he reluctantly but doggedly stuck to his task for nearly two years. He stated:

"I said from day one that my loyalty is to the Syrian people alone."

“Did I fail personally, or did the world fail to save Syria?”

Lakhdar Brahimi

Beginning with his perspective on the “false dawn” of the Geneva I Communiqué of June 2012, he peppers his remarks with insights into the diplomatic activity among the global and regional powers during the conflict, and into the positions and relationships of individual countries and their most senior figures.

He describes the background to the unexpected agreement on removing Syria’s chemical weapons, and to the failure of the Geneva II Conference in early 2014.

From early on, Brahimi warned about the risk of the conflict moving beyond Syrian territory. Drawing on his previous experience as United Nations Special Representative for Iraq in 2004, he discusses the spillover of the Syrian conflict into Iraq, putting it into the context of recent regional history.

He said:"It's true that I failed in Syria, and that is unfortunate. Of course the issue is not personal. In the end Syria pays the price. Did I fail personally, or did the world fail to save Syria?"

Was there anything else Brahimi could have done, or was he hamstrung by the inability of the international community to act together in addressing the Syrian conflict? Tell us what you think by commenting below.

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