(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Following the failed mission of former UN secretary General Kofi Annan in Syria and his resignation as joint UN-Arab League envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi has been recruited for the same. Soon Brahimi will travel to Cairo to meet with the secretary general of the Arab League to obtain his credentials as he, like Annan before him, will act on behalf of both the UN and the league.
That is quite unusual. The UN covers all the Arab League member states. Once acting as a UN envoy, Brahimi represents the Arab group. Why, then, the double mandate?
It is clearly to bestow "Arab" legitimacy on what might otherwise appear as improper foreign intervention in the internal affairs of a sovereign UN member state, which happens to also be a member of the Arab family. And many people in the region and the world have, after Iraq, Libya and other examples, had quite enough of that.
That leads to another question: Why should the Arab League not deal with the Syrian crisis directly, as an internal Arab matter, without trying to reach next-door Damascus via New York?
Of course, the Arab League is simply incapable of doing so. Its record of handling crises in the region has been dismal. Iraq was twice subjected to foreign invasion in the last two decades, not only with Arab League cover, but also with substantial Arab participation. There are many more examples.
Most recently, the blunders that the League of Arab states has committed in Libya - from suspending membership to prematurely referring the matter to the Security Council - are being repeated in Syria, despite half-hearted attempts at the beginning.
Right from the start, the Assad regime, and Syrian President Bashar Assad himself, have been outrageously stubborn, totally oblivious to the seriousness of the Syrian people's resolve to liberate themselves from the family tyranny and foolishly willing to destroy their country if it takes that much to save their ruthless dictatorship.
Any chance of persuading Assad to realise the gravity of the situation would have only been possible if the matter had been kept within its Arab context. Yemen was somehow a good example.
At the same time, several members of the Arab League are accused of arming and financing rebel groups with a sectarian agenda, which has led a large segment of the population to fear that the end of the regime would lead to widespread violence against them, rather than to a smooth transition.
Unfortunately, the Arab League, which initially lacked direction and spirit, quickly gave in, turning the whole file to the United Nations, therefore throwing Syria, whose stability is vital for the entire region, to the many vultures who have had their eye on Syria for decades.
No time should be wasted trying to prove Assad's and his desperate regime's ruthlessness and destructive capacity. He has proved that with abundant evidence scattered all over the country. If quoted figures are accurate, violence has left close to 20,000 people dead and perhaps hundreds of thousands displaced.
International human rights groups pointed out that rebel groups have also engaged in violence against civilians, as well as extrajudicial executions, though these abuses and crimes usually receive less attention.
What the Arab League and its members should keep in mind is that the desire to punish Assad should not end up destroying Syria and the Syrians, which is what will happen if the current civil war grinds on as a proxy war, with international and regional powers arming and financing their clients.
If saving the country necessitated prolonging the life of the regime with some drastic changes, that is an option that should have been considered. It is too late now, because many of the international players who pretend to be concerned about the Syrian people do indeed intend to destroy Syria as well.
It is also too late because the "conspiracy" Assad used as pretext for crushing his people's genuine aspiration for reform and democratisation has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The fate of Syria is now out of the hands of the Syrian people.
The international meddling in Syria was not hatched on the spot during the Syrian crisis. It has always been there, waiting for the right moment to activate. Neither has the "conspiracy" been constructed for Syria alone, although dismantling Syria is part of the scheme. It is a well-known open plan for reorganising the region to suit Israeli purposes by breaking the alliance between Syria, Iran, Hizbollah and Hamas, and ensuring that no regional power can rival Israel.
What the Arab League has totally missed is that while evidence of the conspiracy should not be allowed to justify Assad's atrocities and therefore be used as an excuse to save his regime, these atrocities should not prompt denial of the existence of these external designs.
The failure of all efforts to deal with the Syrian crisis so far can be attributed to confusing the many contradictory facets of the crisis: Assad and his aggression on his people; the foreign intervention and its goals; and Syria's right to territorial unity, sovereignty, national integrity and democracy.
Brahimi steps into a complex and confused political terrain. While he may not be able to suggest that Assad, the head of a UN member state, should step down, he may not, on the other hand, deal with Assad as a legitimate head of state.
Assad will tell the UN envoy he will stop violence once the attack on his country stops. It is unlikely, however, that the Syrian crisis will be resolved with Assad remaining in place. Neither would one expect Assad to agree to peacefully step down. That means prolonged war and further destruction. It also means that the Brahimi mission will soon face the fate of that of his predecessor.
Brahimi has not started yet, but he got himself in trouble by saying that it may be too early to talk about Assad stepping down. That cautious reply to a journalist's question angered both fighting sides in Syria, with the government denying the UN envoy the right to question Assad's fate and the opposition viewing the statement as a hint to give Assad more time to pursue his war against his people. That tells enough about the nature of the dangerous minefield the UN-Arab League envoy is about to enter.
The Arab League could, as an alternative, try to repair the damaged lines of communications with Damascus and discretely seek a compromise that could salvage something, perhaps with Assad departing as Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh did. The odds are slim, but it is still worth trying for the sake of Syria and the Syrian people. If there is any chance, that is the last one, other than war, regional instability, wholesale death and destruction.