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Lakhdar Brahimi: 'You can blame us'

As the special envoy to Syria admits he has not been successful, how can he tackle the crisis and put an end to the war?
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2013 17:09

Algerian-born Lakhdar Brahimi is one of the elder statesmen of international diplomacy. He is a man unafraid to take on the most challenging of causes.

"Assad stepping down is an objective, that is very legitimate for anybody in any country to say I want my president to go away. But how are you going to make the change unless you start talking somewhere, maybe you say I don't talk to one person, or one group, or a few elements. But to say that you are not going to talk to anybody until your objective is achieved is a little bit difficult .... You can blame us, Kofi and I, and everybody else for not having succeeded: we haven't." 

- Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab league envoy to Syria

He began his political career fighting for Algerian independence from France. He worked for the Arab League on ending Lebanon’s civil war and was UN special envoy for Haiti, South Africa, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

He took over as UN and Arab League special envoy to Syria last August after his predecessor Kofi Anan resigned, unable to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table. Lakhdar Brahimi said his task was “nearly impossible”.

He has shuttled constantly between Damascus, Geneva, Moscow and Tehran. At the beginning of this year, he described the situation in Syria as one of “unprecedented levels of horror”.

He also hinted it was time for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, and called on the UN Security Council to work much harder.

Then in February, the new head of the Syian opposition National Coalition, Moaz al-Khatib, made a surprise offer to talk with representatives of the Syrian regime - but the promise of negotiations has again stalled.

We caught up with Lakhdar Brahimi in Cairo, where he lives - on one of the rare occasions that the civil war in Syria allows him to be at home.

In this episode of Talk to Al Jazeera, Lakhdar Brahimi discusses with Anita McNaught if the Syrian opposition and the Syrian government can establish a peaceful dialogue to put an end to the war.

Talk to Al Jazeera can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0430; Sunday: 0830, 1930; and Monday: 1430.

Click here for more Talk to Al Jazeera

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