UN envoy Brahimi says Syrian crisis worsening

UN-Arab League mediator warns the unrest threatens regional stability, after meeting Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, has told Al Jazeera the situation inside Syria is getting worse.

In his first interview since meeting President Bashar al-Assad, Brahimi told Al Jazeera that Syria was too far gone for reform and that there could be no winners in the conflict.

“The point I’m making as serious as strongly as I can is that the situation is very bad and worsening. It’s not improving. Syrians on both sides say from time to time we are going to win very soon,” Brahimi told Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf in Amman, Jordan, on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s true I don’t think any side is winning now and in the future the situation is getting worse and it’s a huge threat to the region.”

His comments followed a visit to Turkey to meet officials and refugees who have fled the conflict.

Tasked with ending 18-months of violence in Syria, Brahimi toured a camp in the border province of Hatay on Tuesday after a four-day trip to Syria during which he met Assad.

Dozens of Syrians staged a demonstration outside the camp denouncing Assad, as Brahimi concluded his visit. He travelled to Jordan later on Tuesday.

Turkey, which serves as headquarters for the leaders of the Free Syrian Army group and hosts members of the political opposition group, the Syrian National Council, has accused its southern neighbour of “state terrorism”.

Contact group

On Monday, foreign ministers of the regional “contact group” on Syria agreed at talks in Cairo to hold more consultations in New York later this month.

The top diplomats of Egypt, Turkey and Iran met in Cairo to discuss developments in Syria, but Saudi Arabia, which is also a member of the group, was absent from the meeting.

“It is too early to say we have come up with any specifics,” Mohammed Kamel Amr, the Egyptian foreign minister, said after the talks.

Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have all demanded that Assad step down, while Iran has accused states including Saudi Arabia and Turkey of helping the rebels who are fighting to topple him.

Against that backdrop, some analysts said Egypt may itself not have expected much from the group and that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s main aim may have been to put Cairo back on the map as a regional power broker.

The contact group decided to meet again in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the Egyptian foreign minister said after the Cairo meeting, during a joint news conference with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts.

“To expect a quick solution from one meeting is unrealistic. We must be patient,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said during the news conference.

“But I confirm to you that the things we agree on are greater than our differences.”

“Everyone confirmed the need to bring about a peaceful solution,” he added, reiterating what he described as Tehran’s longstanding position that the Syrian government must meet the demands of the Syrian people, but a solution could not be imposed from outside.

Salehi said the four states had a “great role” to play and could table a proposal that “we hope, God willing, will produce a result that satisfies everyone … But this needs more talks.”

Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, spoke of the need for “regional ownership of the issues of our region”.

Saudi absence

Egyptian officials gave conflicting reasons for the absence of Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, and did not say why no one else came in his place.

Displaced Syrians, on foot for days, find shelter in schools, but food and medicine are scarce, and survival is tenuous 

The Saudi minister underwent surgery last month, keeping him away from official business, but he has been represented at international meetings by Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, the deputy foreign minister.

Egyptian presidential spokesman Yasser Ali and an Arab League official both said Faisal was staying away for health reasons.

But Amr, the foreign minister, said the absence was due to previously arranged engagements.

There was no immediate comment from Saudi Arabia, which attended a preparatory meeting last week.

China and Russia have vetoed Western- and Arab-backed UN Security Council resolutions intended to raise pressure on Assad to halt the violence and engage in talks on a peaceful solution.

Davutoglu call 

Brahimi visited Cairo on Monday after making his first trip to Damascus in his new post.

He met privately with Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi in Arabi’s home in the Egyptian capital.

The veteran Algerian diplomat said he would next report to the UN Security Council and Arab ministers, who will be there to attend the UN General Assembly. He said he would then return to Syria, without saying when.

Turkey’s Davutoglu said Brahimi should have a different mandate from Kofi Annan, the ex-UN secretary-general who quit in August as Syria envoy after his six-point plan for peace failed.

“He must not allow Assad to buy more time with this type of mission,” Davutoglu said after meeting Morsi earlier in the day. 

“Assad misused Kofi Annan’s mission to increase pressure on people. Brahimi shouldn’t give Assad this chance.” 

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies