Last updated: 19 April, 2013

Brahimi urges UN action on Syrian stalemate

UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on Friday urged the Security Council to come together on Syria, venting frustration with all sides while denying rumors he plans to resign.

Brahimi told the 15-member council that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is “not in a mood for dialogue” and that the only hope for stemming the violence is if the council agrees unanimously on a plan of action, diplomats told AFP.

The Security Council has been divided about how to proceed on Syria, which has been wracked by fighting since March 2011, with Russia and China repeatedly blocking efforts by the West to step up pressure on Damascus.

“I have probably said practically the same thing I said every time,” Brahimi told reporters later.

“The situation is extremely bad and we need action from the Security Council,” he said, as he expressed frustration not only with the United Nations, but with the Syrian regime and opposition rebels.

“I indicated the opposition and the government have got to accept to come to negotiations and both sides have got to accept that these negotiations are necessary,” Brahimi said.

He added that the recent pledge of loyalty to Al-Qaeda by an increasingly powerful Syrian rebel group, the Al-Nusra Front, would not affect his mandate.

“The way to protect Syria from extremism is once again to solve the problem,” Brahimi said. “The only way is to bring this war to an end.”

The veteran Algerian diplomat has made little progress in the seven months since he was appointed to try to mediate an end to the Syrian conflict, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives and seen hundreds of thousands flee.

But Brahimi appeared irritated as he brushed aside talk of resignation.

“I have not resigned,” Brahimi told reporters.

“Every day I wake up, I think I should resign, but I have not so far,” he said, adding that “there is no foundation” to the rumors.

Assad’s regime has criticized Brahimi — who has held the post since September 2012 — and rumors have circulated that the envoy might resign entirely or at least drop his affiliation with the Arab League.

A UN diplomat meanwhile said he hoped Brahimi would remain, adding that “from our point of view he is useful.”

“He may be frustrated, but he symbolizes the possibility of a political settlement,” the diplomat said on condition of anonymity. “We hope he will stay and we will encourage him to do that.”

Ban has refused to comment on whether Brahimi might resign, but said this week there was “no such consideration” of making him a purely UN envoy, adding that Brahimi “has been and will continue to work as a joint representative.”

Diplomatic efforts by Brahimi and his predecessor — former UN secretary general Kofi Annan — have failed to halt the fighting in Syria, which has claimed more than 70,000 lives since early 2011, according to UN figures.

Ban said earlier this week that a fact-finding mission was prepared to travel to Syria to investigate accusations about the use of chemical weapons in the conflict but had not received permission to enter from the government.

Brahimi was expected to meet with Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi early next week.