‘Arab states must unite behind peaceful solution for Syria’ – UN peace envoy

‘Arab states must unite behind peaceful solution for Syria’ –  UN peace envoy
The Arab World needs to unify its position on Syria and back a peaceful solution to the crisis in the Middle Eastern state, UN and Arab League Special Envoy on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, told RT’s Arabic channel, Rossiya al-Yaum.

Brahimi acknowledged that the Arab countries are currently divided on the issue, with “few strongly supporting the opposition and others abstaining.”

But he believes that after last week’s accord between the US and Russia, which calls for the destruction of all the Syrian government’s chemical stockpiles under international supervision, the Arab position “will also be in favor of a solution that satisfies the people of Syria.”

“We look forward to a unified Arab position that works for the benefit of a peaceful solution,” the envoy stressed. “Everyone says he wants good for the Syrian people and for Syria to come out of its crisis, which is where we hope to unite the stance in favor of a peaceful solution, which we call for.”

He reiterated that the stance of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who said that “there’s no military solution” in Syria, is “identical” to the one voiced by his Arab League counterpart, Nabil Elaraby.

Brahimi has called the Syrian chemical weapons agreement a “triumph” on the part of the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and US Secretary of State, John Kerry.  He thinks it would be impossible to solve the Syrian crisis without Moscow and Washington reaching common ground.

“I told you with great regret that the Syrian parties aren’t able to talk to each other,”
he said. “The best solution is for the Syrians to meet with each other. They don’t need anyone to solve their problem, but unfortunately this wasn’t possible, and the countries of the region also unfortunately weren’t able to play this brotherly role. Therefore, it must start from the outer circle, I told the UN Security Council that there is an Inner Circle in Syria and Middle Circle, which is the region, and an Outer Circle which is the international community and the Security Council, namely Russia and the US.”

If Russia and the US keep talking peace it will result in the countries of the Middle Eastern region joining them and “most importantly for the Syrian brothers to accept it,” the envoy explained. 

Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov (R) speaks on September 13, 2013 during a press conference with United Nations-Arab League special envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (C) and US Secretary of State John Kerry after their high-stakes talks on Syria's chemical weapons at the UN headquarters in Geneva. (AFP Photo / Larry Downing)

Brahimi said he plans to have talks with Lavrov and Kerry again next week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York to establish the “certain date” for the Geneva 2 conference on Syria in the “hope that it will be in October”.

“The conference should be held with all Syrian parties that are capable of ending the fighting and also foreign parties that have an interest or an influence or both,” he stressed. “These countries must participate in the conference to promote, encourage or incite the Syrian parties to reach a solution.”

The envoy believes that there will be a quorum in Geneva. This despite a majority in opposition who rejected the accord between Moscow and Washington, and counted on a US-led military strike at  Syrian regime targets.

Such reaction from the rebels “is normal because they weren’t a party in the negotiations and nobody told them or warned them that ‘something is being cooked up’ with respect to the Chemical weapons,” Brahimi stressed. “They were expecting an attack and were waiting for one at any moment, and were surprised to see an agreement that pushed away such a strike. Of course, it is only natural that the reaction would be confusion.”

“I am certain that all of this will change and that all spectrums of the opposition will realize that there is no military solution and that foreign military intervention is unlikely… Syria doesn’t need new military action. It had enough. I am sure that the situation will change and people will understand that there is no military solution and therefore there is a need to search for a political solution between the Syrians themselves with external assistance,” he added.

The envoy also expressed hope that the destruction of Assad’s chemical arsenal will prepare the ground for the long awaited conference, which would rid the Middle East not only of chemical, but all weapons of mass destruction.

“Israel doesn’t admit that it has nuclear weapons or chemical weapons, while it has been said years ago that Israel own about 200 nuclear bombs and it has been reported recently that this number has increased to 400 bombs,” he said. “Israel, unlike Syria, signed the [Chemical Weapons] Convention in 1992, but has not ratified it – while Syria has refused to sign. This is a big hurdle and the West promised clearly and explicitly that this conference related to clearing the region from such arms will be held. It is being delayed time and again.”

“I think that the Arab countries should raise their voices high for the convening of this conference and to make it a success. Otherwise, we can’t stop the countries of the region, not only Iran, from owning nuclear weapons and other mass destruction weapons,” Brahimi added.

The US and its allies blame Assad forces for using sarin gas against innocent civilians in a chemical attack near Syrian capital, Damascus, on August 21.

Despite the Syrian government denying the accusations and no proof of its guilt being presented by Washington, Obama announced that there would be “limited military” action against Assad because the use of chemical weapons can’t be tolerated.

But the US strikes were put on hold after a Russian proposal to hand the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal to international inspectors for destruction, a plan that received the full backing of Assad’s government.

The civil war, in which the government is fighting Western-backed Islamist militants, has been raging in Syria since March 2011, and has claimed over 100,000 lives, according to UN estimates.