Great Negotiator Award recipient for 2002, Lakhdar Brahimi, is traveling to Damascus within the next couple of days to attempt to mediate the escalating conflict between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and more than 30 different opposition groups. Describing his mission as “nearly impossible,” Ambassador Brahimi stressed the need for the international community to display unity in grappling with the Syrian crisis.
No stranger to difficult conflicts, Ambassador Brahimi is an acclaimed and renowned diplomat whose mettle was continuously tested over a four-decade career advocating for peaceful resolutions of seemingly intractable conflicts. Ambassador Brahimi was responsible for mediating the Taif Accord that brought an end to the Lebanese civil war, as well as heading up several missions to international conflict zones, such as Afghanistan, Yemen, Liberia, Sudan, Nigeria, South Africa, the former Zaire, and Haiti.
In 2002, Brahimi served as the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan and led in the organization of the Bonn Conference that created an interim Afghan government after the fall of the Taliban regime. Lakhdar Brahimi is also a member of “The Elders,” a group founded by Nelson Mandela to promote peace and human rights in the world.
In addition to the main domestic actors in the Syrian conflict, Ambassador Brahimi will have to deal with international actors who are participating in the Syrian conflict by providing arms to both the government and opposition groups.
The month of August recorded the highest number of fatalities since the inception of the conflict, and this dramatic increase is attributed to the Assad regime’s recent willingness to use airpower and artillery in its efforts to quash the opposition groups.
On Tuesday the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) reported the total number of current refugees at 235,300. Since the conflict began, Turkey has received more than 80,000 refugees with 8,000 currently waiting at the border while Jordan claims up to 183,000 have sought refuge there with 1,000 arriving daily.
United Nations High Commissioner Antonio Guterres calls these numbers worrying, a sentiment echoed by Ambassador Brahimi when discussing the task before him with the BBC: “I’m scared of the weight of responsibility. People are already saying: ‘People are dying and what are you doing?’ And we are not doing much. That in itself is a terrible weight.”
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What happened to all that “now they’ve crossed the line” talk? You know, after Assad kills 500 people with sarin gas, Syria has crossed from the humane into the inhumane… It’s fine if you slaughter 100,000 of your own people- just not with sarin!