Lakhdar Brahimi, the new U.N. envoy to Syria, has been busy making the rounds of TV studios, responding to the usual slew of questions about his imminent foray into the world of high-stakes diplomacy.
However, Brahimi’s mission appears to be in tatters before it has even taken off. If members of the Security Council and the rest of the international community truly intend to invest time following up Brahimi’s efforts in the coming weeks and months, they should consider calling off the entire exercise.
Syria’s information minister restated Monday what everyone already knows. The Syrian regime has no intention of doing anything until a simple condition is met: The “foreign conspiracy” must be brought to an end, because – in the eyes of Damascus – it is the only relevant aspect of the unrest that has gripped the country over the last 17 months. According to Omran Zoubi, who held a news conference to expound on his government’s views, “nothing” is really happening in Syria, because the media has blown things out of proportion.
Meanwhile, the Syrian opposition, both inside and outside the country, have stated firmly that they have no interest in Brahimi’s mission, and absolutely no readiness to sit down and talk things over with members of a regime that has systematically engaged in destruction in nearly every major town and city in the country.
These opposition groups have pointed out, time and time again, that the death toll and destruction rose steadily as the last envoy, Kofi Annan, held his series of meetings with officials in Syria and elsewhere. If Brahimi is interested, he could peruse YouTube and read all of the handmade signs held by Syrian protesters who detailed the depressing rise in casualties during Annan’s tenure as a “peacemaker.”
Under these conditions, it is simply impossible to believe that there is any hope for a political solution to the conflict. These days, the rebels of the Free Syrian Army are locked into their rhetoric that the world has abandoned them. They highlight every incident in which they are able to capture or purchase weapons and other military equipment from Syrian government forces, to argue their case that they are not waiting for outside assistance.
The regime, meanwhile, is locked into its stance that its national sovereignty should be respected, even though it shows little respect for the sovereignty and borders of its own neighbors.
Meanwhile, members of the international community appear to be satisfied with assigning blame for the Security Council’s failure to act, while setting “red lines” on matters such as the use of chemical weapons.
Brahimi is now spending his time searching for multiple ways to express the idea of “difficult,” and when his tenure ends, commentators will be searching for multiple ways to express the idea of “utter failure.”