Tue, Jan 01, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Special envoy warns of failed state in Syria

‘SOMALIZATION’:The UN/Arab League envoy said as many as 100,000 people could be killed this year as both sides have shown no interest in negotiations

AP, BEIRUT

Free Syrian Army fighters walk near damaged buildings at the front line in the city of Aleppo, Syria, on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

The international envoy seeking to end Syria’s civil war warned on Sunday that the failure of the government and the rebels to pursue a political solution could lead to the “full collapse of the Syrian state” and threaten the world’s security.

Lakhdar Brahimi, who represents the UN and the Arab League, said that as many as 100,000 people could be killed this year, as Syria moves toward “Somalization” and rule by warlords.

Brahimi has reported little progress in his mission to push forward a peace plan for Syria first presented in June at an international conference in Geneva. The proposal calls for an open-ended ceasefire and the formation of a transitional government to run the country until new elections can be held and a new constitution drafted.

However, so far, neither the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad nor the scores of rebels groups fighting his forces across the country have shown any interest in negotiations.

The rebels’ political leadership has called al-Assad’s departure a prerequisite for any political solution, and it is unlikely that the opposition’s National Coalition could even stop rebels on the ground from continuing to fight.

Likewise, it is doubtful that top members of al-Assad’s regime will voluntarily give up power.

The Syrian government has remained officially mum on Brahimi’s plan, which he has pushed in the past week in meetings with al-Assad in Damascus, with top Russian officials in Moscow and on Sunday with the head of the Arab League in Cairo.

Speaking alongside Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby on Sunday, he estimated that 100,000 people could be killed if the 21-month conflict continues for another year.

“Peace and security in the world will be threatened directly from Syria if there is no solution within the next few months,” he said. “The alternatives are a political solution or the full collapse of the Syrian state.”

Since meeting al-Assad early last week, Brahimi has given no indication how his plan was received.

When asked on Sunday if there is any willingness among the opposition to enter a political process, Brahimi said: “No, there isn’t. This is the problem.”

Also on Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Syrian refugees along Turkey’s southern border, where he was joined by Mouaz al-Khatib, head of Syria’s National Coalition.

Erdogan called for al-Assad to step down and said that Syria is experiencing “a holy birth.”

“That holy birth is the coming to power of the will of the people,” he said as refugees chanted his name.

Activists reported violence around Syria on Sunday.

Rebels in the north clashed with government troops near military bases in the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo and seized an oil pumping station in al-Raqqa.

The station receives crude oil from the nearby province of Hassakha and pumps it to one of Syria’s two oil refineries in Homs, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.head Rami Abdul-Rahman said.

The Observatory also said that rebels stormed a government air base in the area of Tel Hassir south of Aleppo, while government fighter jets launched deadly airstrikes near Aleppo, Hama and in a number of rebellious Damascus suburbs.

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