Syria conflict: West should have listened to Russia, says UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi

Brahimi says Russian offer to force Assad to step aside in 2012 was a missed opportunity

Brahimi said there were 'no good guys in the Syrian tragedy'
Brahimi said there were 'no good guys in the Syrian tragedy'

The bloody Syrian conflict could have been resolved four years ago had Western powers listened to Russia, former Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has said.

The Algerian diplomat, who was the United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria, said a Russian offer to force President Bashar al-Assad to step aside in 2012 was a missed opportunity for peace.

He said there were “no good guys in the Syrian tragedy” and, speaking to Al Jazeera English, he condemned Western powers and Muslim nations for their failure to put “the interest of the Syrian people as their first priority”.

Ambassador Brahimi, who resigned as the UN envoy in 2014 in frustration at his inability to bring about a coherent international strategy to bring peace to Syria, placed “a lot of blame on the outside forces, the governments and others who were supporting one side or the other”.

Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the rest of the “Muslim world” were, he said, as much to blame as anyone.

“Everybody is to blame,” Ambassador Brahimi told Mehdi Hasan, the host of UpFront. “The entire world. What did the Americans do? What did the French do? What did the British do?”

Martti Ahtisaari, the former Finnish president, revealed last year that in 2012 the Russians had offered to force President Assad to step down as part of a peace deal.

The proposal was put to the UN Security Council but, said Mr Ahtisaari, Britain, France and the US were so convinced Assad was about to fall anyway they disregarded the offer.

Ambassador Brahimi has now spoken out to back the Finn’s claim that the offer represented a missed opportunity and that the war “could have been solved”. Since the deal was offered, tens of thousands of people have been killed in the war and millions more have fled their homes.

“The Russians had a much more realistic analysis of the situation than practically anybody else,” he maintained. “Everyone should have listened to the Russians a little bit more than they did.”

While blaming everyone connected to the conflict, he added that President Assad was the most culpable: “There’s no doubt that the number one man must bear number one responsibility for what has happened.”

Describing Syria as “probably not a failed state, but certainly not a functioning state,” he said that President Assad remains part of the solution. However, he added, that “being part of the solution does not mean he’s going to govern for another 40 years”.

When Mr Brahimi resigned in 2014, the UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general expressed his deep regret and said the inability to win peace in Syria was “a failure for all of us”. He described him as “one of the world’s most brilliant diplomats.”

Ambassador Brahimi is now part of The Elders, a group of former world leaders who advocate human rights and peace.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in