By Arab News
By Khaled Al Dakheel
No one knows why did Lakhdar Brahimi accept the task to find a solution to the Syrian crisis. Does he himself know why?
Brahimi immediately said after accepting the assignment in an interview with BBC that he is fully aware that his mission is almost impossible.
Why did he accept the task then? His answer was: “For the sake of trying, I don’t have the right to refuse.”
When asked if he has a solution, or a vision to try. He said no. It is important to note that his mission came after the hard failure of Kofi Annan and Brahimi knew he would have to start from the scratch.
And he almost started from the scratch. Meanwhile, the death toll in Syria reached more than 20,000 people. Is this figure equivalent to zero? As if it didn’t cross Barhimi’s mind that with this mission of his, he is in a sense granting the Syrian regime an extra time to go on with its military solution. And he is providing a political cover to the chilling murders in Syria no matter who is committing them.
It has been more than three months since the start of his mission and it is also the most bloody and destructive period since the beginning of the Syrian uprising. Did Brahimi consider the issue from this point of view? Until now, his mission was just a means to buy time, a means that international and regional forces used, including the Syrian regime, in absence of any clear understanding of a possible solution that can protect their interests and suit their calculations.
There is a bewildering question in Brahimi’s mission. Does he actually think that he could reach a political solution with Syrian regime, a solution that can provide a transitional phase? Does he think a regime that uses its heavy killing machines, airplanes and some of the prohibited weapons against its people will really be interested in a political solution? In normal cases, when a political crisis emerges between a ruling system and its people, the political solution is their first choice. But in Syria’s case, the regime started with the military solution from the first day of the uprising.
The story of Daraa children is well known in this regard. No doubt that Brahimi is well aware of this story and the facts surrounding it more than anybody else.
During the second day of the uprising, the first martyr fell down. This was in the middle of last March, more than five months later, the regime started to describe the protesters as militants and terrorist groups. And now, the victims of the regime from all walks of life reached hundreds of thousands. If we add the category of refugees to this, the figure could reach a million.
Does Brahimi believe that such a regime could really think of a political solution that leads to a transitional phase? A transitional phase means that a different system should replace the old one, with a leadership chosen by the free will of its people, is it possible that the Syrian regime could accept this solution after it has gone this far, too far indeed, in spilling the blood of its people?
Anyone who thinks of such a solution does not start arresting children and does not destroy neighborhoods inhabited by people.
The Syrian regime is a hostage to a closed sectarian coalition at local and regional levels. It doesn’t trust anybody outside this coalition, Syrians or otherwise. It came to power by violence and made violence its primary means to deal with its people and its neighbors for more than 40 years. It resorted to bloodletting and violence in Hama uprising in 1982 and in the current uprising as well. The Syrian regime killed Syrian people only, and so far it has killed more Syrians, in fact, the double than those including Syrians, Palestinians and Lebanese killed by the Israel Defense Forces.
The history and nature of the system never accommodated any political process in Syria. It didn’t get involved in any real political dialogue, except with Americans and Israelis, because its leadership knows well enough what Americans and Israelis have. The political scope in Syria, as well as in many Arab countries, doesn’t go beyond the president’s palace, not even beyond the president’s office in the palace. So, what political solution does Brahimi speak about?
Sometimes it is said that Brahimi is thinking about a sectarian Syrian solution. Personally, I know nothing about this.
Any person thinks this way doesn’t know Syria well. Its demographic composition is very different from that of Lebanon. It cannot accommodate such an agreement. Any agreement modeled on the Taif agreement means the division of Syria. Is this what Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meant when he said last week that Assad is the protector of minorities in Syria? That is, if the opposition insisted on the overthrow of the regime, Assad may separate himself with minorities close to Alawites areas in order to protect them.
Here may come a new Sykes-Picot for Syria, but from the Russian and Iranian gates. But at least most Syrians will not approve this solution.
It seems that Brahimi didn’t think much of the Syrian people. The photo of him exchanging a lively laughing talk with the Syrian president the day after the Beirut bombings means that the president himself used him to send a media message without him actually noticing that.
The scene in Syria is massive and imposing. People die every day there, so what are the reasons for a laughing talk with a president whose forces are bombing cites and neighborhoods?
The only thing that seems to govern Brahimi thinking, his movements, choices and statements is the attitudes and interests of political systems. He must satisfy all states. His only craftsmanship in this context is creating a space for him between the attitudes and interests of all these states, with all its contradictions.
The members of the Security Council unanimously demanded to ensure the success of his mission. Because his mission is impossible — as he himself described it — the responsibility of achieving this consensus has become his own, not any of these countries. He should not say anything when he makes a statement and should not take an important stance no matter how much blood is being spilled in Syria. He should not express any opinions that would upset any country, then his mission would stop or end completely.
Barhimi was born on Jan. 1, 1934. The history of his earlier political missions suggests that he belongs to a generation of failure in almost everything: In politics, in wars, both inside and outside. Also a failure in building a state and a nation that recognizes humanity of its citizens, their dignity and rights. This generation succeeded only in one thing: Building a political system instead of a state, so that everything takes off from there.
This doesn’t mean that Brahimi in person is a political failure. He is not. But in his mission in Syria, he started from the same system and ended there. This mission is turning out to be his Achilles’ heel. He failed in Iraq, only partially succeeded in Lebanon, and achieved a half success in Afghanistan. His mission’s failure looms large in Syria even before he starts.
Brahimi’s professional record is filled with positions and tasks. He was a representative of the Algerian National Liberation Front during the 1950s and 1960s. Then he became minister for foreign affairs of Algeria between 1991 and 1993. This means that he knows the Arab regimes, knows their nature, and knows how to deal with them. Therefore, he knows the Syrian regime well. What does his knowledge say about the relationship of this regime with its people? How would this regime deal with a popular uprising? Does he personally believe this regime when it says that it agrees to a truce for Eid Al-Adha?
Furthermore, Brahimi is a member of many international organizations on the issue of good governance. Does he believe that the Syrian regime is interested in the issue of good governance? It is not required of Brahimi to make the trial of the Syrian system a part of his mission. This matter is outside the main subject here. But he is required to employ his political experience, his legal background and his knowledge of the Arab reality to expose the situation in Syria as he sees it, in full transparency and honesty. Unveiling the truth helps a great deal in reaching a solution, more than this cold diplomacy of the United Nations, more than this tasteless, odorless diplomacy that the Arab League.
Brahimi is required to be committed literally to what he frequently repeated, that his primary and final objective are the Syrian people, and the rights of these people. This, at least, may compensate the political failure of his mission.