MENAFN - Arab News
UN confronts failure of Syria diplomacy
(MENAFN - Arab News) Attempts by the United Nations to end the bloody 21-month-old Syrian conflict through diplomacy have been a resounding failure and there is little reason to expect a quick change given the Russian-US rift on Syria.
After a year of intensive diplomatic efforts by the world body, UN-Arab League peace mediator Lakhdar Brahimi of Algeria has made no more progress than his predecessor, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in getting the government and fighters to come to the negotiating table, or getting Russia and the United States to overcome their deep disagreements on Syria.
Brahimi headed to Moscow yesterday to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the United Nations said, but expectations are low. Syria's opposition leader rejected an invitation from Russia to attend peace talks, which was a blow to Brahimi's efforts.
At the heart of the diplomatic roadblock is a seemingly unbreakable impasse on the UN Security Council, where Russia and the United States, both veto-wielding permanent members of the 15-nation group, are seeing their bilateral ties deteriorate.
There is no reason to expect anything different in early 2013. After three joint Russian-Chinese vetoes on Syria, the Security Council has all but given up on the issue.
"It's very depressing to be a party to failed diplomacy," a senior UN official said. "There's no end to the (Security Council) deadlock and as long as that deadlock remains, it's hard to make a difference beyond humanitarian aid, and that's not easy." In addition to generally rocky relations between Washington and Moscow, Russia has strategic reasons for standing by Assad. He has been a staunch ally, a major purchaser of Russian arms and host to Russia's only warm-water naval port. But even Russia realizes Assad will likely be ousted sooner or later.
Annan, the first UN-Arab League peace negotiator to try to end the escalating civil war, focused on getting Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and the opposition to agree to a cease-fire.
With neither side willing to lay down its weapons, a frustrated Annan announced his resignation in August, saying the divided Security Council had undermined his efforts. He urged Russia, China and Iran to do more to push for an end to the bloodshed.
Brahimi is concentrating on healing the rift between Russia and the United States as the conflict in Syria becomes increasingly gruesome and sectarian, UN officials and diplomats say.
Disagreements between the United States and Russia or China on the 15-nation Security Council are nothing new. They have had sharp differences on crises in Georgia, North Korea, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and elsewhere that have prevented the council from taking any meaningful action.
But the deadlock on Syria is especially frustrating for UN officials and diplomats, who complain the United Nations has been confined to the sidelines as the corpses pile higher.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly urged countries to unite in support of Brahimi's efforts but that has not happened.
"We do not see any prospect of any end of violence or any prospect of political dialogue to start," Ban said last week.
Brahimi is convinced that ending the US-Russian rift is the key to unraveling the Gordian knot that has prevented a negotiated end to a war in which 44,000 people have died.
The crux of their disagreement is whether Assad should go now, as the fighters, Washington and the Europeans want, or later, as Moscow would prefer, after a period with a transitional leadership that could include members of Assad's government.
Russia has repeatedly said it is not wedded to Assad, although it has refused to abandon him.
"For (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, it's all about not compromising with America at the moment," a senior Western diplomat said. The latest example of worsening US-Russian ties is Moscow's new ban on US adoptions of Russian children, a move that came in retaliation against US human rights legislation aimed at Russia.
Diplomats and analysts say it is not Brahimi's fault that he has failed. The veteran Algerian diplomat played down hopes that he could succeed from the outset.
Richard Gowan of New York University said Brahimi's modest approach has restored some of the UN credibility that was lost while Annan was the Syria mediator.
"But (Brahimi's) current peace plan is at least half a year out of date," Gowan said. "The rebels simply will not buy it." Brahimi is pushing for a transitional government and has suggested he wants to build on an international agreement signed in Geneva six months ago that envisioned a provisional body - which might include members of Assad's government as well as the opposition - leading the country to a new election.
His recycled peace plan has not made him popular with the fighters, who also have complained that the United States and Europeans have failed to provide them weapons, despite the West's clear desire to see Assad ousted.
The fighters have seized the military initiative since June's Geneva meeting and the political opposition has ruled out any transitional government in which Assad has a role.
Radwan Ziadeh of the opposition Syrian National Council dismissed Brahimi's proposal as "unrealistic and fanciful" and said a transitional government could not be built on the same "security and intelligence structure as the existing regime." Some diplomats say Russia's influence on Syria is wildly exaggerated and that Assad is not going to compromise because he is fighting for his own and the Alawites' survival.
So where does that leave Russia? "It's understood that Bashar Assad's regime will not last long," said Georgy Mirsky, a Middle East expert at the Institute for World Economy and International Relations in Moscow.
"But this does not mean that Russia is ready to join the West, the Turks and the Arabs and demand that Assad go? That would be senseless. Syria is lost (to Russia) anyway," he said.
At least Russia "will be able to say that we do not abandon our friends," Mirsky said.
MENA News Headlines
|Mar 11 2014||Egypt doctor faces trial over fatal female genital mutilation ,AFP|
(MENAFN - AFP) A doctor in Egypt will face trial for performing a female circumcision operation that killed a teenage girl, a judicial official said on Tuesday.
The 14-year-old girl's father who ...|
|Mar 11 2014||Al Hilal Bank - Kazakhstan shares banking expertise at TradeInvest Central Asia forum ,MENAFN Press|
|(MENAFN Press) Al Hilal Bank â€“ Kazakhstan, the first Islamic bank in Kazakhstan, yesterday (Monday, March 10, 2014) joined a panel discussion on business opportunities in Central Asia at the Trade ...|
|Mar 11 2014||Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) Hosts Inaugural Summit to Address the Scale of Africas Infrastructure Requirements and Investment Deficit
|(MENAFN Press) The Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) (http://www.africafc.org), an African-led multilateral development financial institution whose mission is to improve African economies by ...|
|Mar 11 2014||Dubai Exports invites local firms to capitalise on opportunities in fast-growing Central Asia ,MENAFN Press|
|(MENAFN Press) Dubai Exports, the export promotion agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED) â€“ Government of Dubai, today hosted a networking seminar in partnership with the Trade and ...|
|Mar 11 2014||7 companies bid for Oman airport contract ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Seven construction companies are bidding for the Package-3 contract of the new Sohar regional airport in Oman, Arabian Business reported.
Package-3 includes the construction of a ...|
|Mar 11 2014||Emirates REIT to raise USD135m in IPO ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) The first real estate investment trust in the UAE, Emirates REIT, said that it plans to raise at least USD135 million through an initial public offering of shares, Arabian Business ...|
|Mar 11 2014||Saudi Aramco plans to increase natural gas output ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Saudi Aramco announced its plan to produce 200 million cubic feet per day (cfd) of unconventional natural gas by 2018, Arabian Business reported.
An industry source said that the firm's ...|
|Mar 11 2014||South American 'mate' tea a long-time Lebanese hit ,AFP|
(MENAFN - AFP) Steam rises from a gourd filled with yerba mate as Wissam al-Halabi takes a sip, seated on a Lebanese mountain slope where the South American drink has become a local tradition.
|Mar 11 2014||Tanker escapes to sea with cargo of Libyan rebel oil ,AFP|
(MENAFN - AFP) A North Korean-flagged tanker laden with oil from a rebel-held terminal in eastern Libya slipped the warships deployed to intercept it and escaped to sea on Tuesday, MPs said.
|Mar 11 2014||D&S wins USD9.5m Dubai Airport project ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Drake & Scull Rail, a subsidiary of Drake & Scull International PJSC (DSI) announced that it won a USD9.5 million contract for a new airport passenger movement system at the Dubai ...|
|Mar 11 2014||DDC, Starcare sign USD18m hospital deal in Duqm ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Oman's Duqm Development Company (DDC) and Starcare Hospital have signed an agreement for the construction of a hospital at Duqm, Times of Oman reported.
The project, at an estimated cost ...|
|Mar 11 2014||Oman to award USD65 b projects the next five years ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) According to an expert, Oman is going to award engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts worth USD65 billion in the next five years, Times of Oman reported.
These projects ...|
|Mar 11 2014||New WaveLogic Photonics Capabilities from Ciena Give Service Providers Greater Visibility, Control and Automation ,MENAFN Press|
|(MENAFN Press) CienaÂ® Corporation, the network specialist, today unveiled WaveLogic Photonics, new line intelligence capabilities that significantly improve visibility, control and programmability ...|
|Mar 11 2014||SAMENA Councils Beyond Connectivity to highlight four-pillar approach for telecom operators which can boost economic growthsustainable development ,MENAFN Press|
|(MENAFN Press) The South Asia, Middle East, North Africa region's SAMENA Telecommunication Council has announced today its Beyond Connectivity 2014 conference themed "Fostering Economic Growth: ...|
|Mar 11 2014||ZOTAC Launches New ZBOX E-Series Gaming and ZBOX nano AQ02 Series Palm-Sized mini-PCs ,MENAFN Press|
|(MENAFN Press) ZOTAC International, a global innovator and manufacturer of graphics cards, mainboards and mini-PCs, today starts CeBIT 2014 with a pair of new ZBOX E-series gaming mini-PCs and the ...|
|Mar 11 2014||Tunis Financial Harbour Signs the Appointment of Soroubat to Commence Development ,MENAFN Press|
|(MENAFN Press) Tunis Bay Project Company (TBPC), announced at a press conference held in Tunisia the appointment of Soroubat, a leading Tunisian contractor, for the development of the infrastructure ...|
|Mar 11 2014||Indulge in special Mothers Day treats at Concorde ,MENAFN Press|
|(MENAFN Press) Concorde Hotel Fujairah lets you celebrate the special Day for Mums with its exclusive dining and spa promotions for the entire month of March.
Relish a month-long gastronomic feast ...|
|Mar 11 2014||NestlÃ© Transparent on commitments ,MENAFN Press|
|(MENAFN Press) NestlÃ©'s efforts to meet a series of commitments in areas where the company engages with society are detailed in a new report, NestlÃ© in Society 2013.
The 35 pledges cover ...|
|Mar 11 2014||Al Basel Group launches Amani Investments ,MENAFN Press|
|(MENAFN Press) The Al Basel Group of Companies has revealed the launch of Amani Investments, the conglomerate's latest addition to its diverse portfolio of business interests. Established to be the ...|
|Mar 11 2014||Commercial aviation is a key pillar of the U.S.-U.A.E. relationship ,MENAFN Press|
|(MENAFN Press) Record trade numbers between the U.S. and U.A.E. totaled $26.9 billion in 2013, with commercial aviation partnerships playing a central role in that success, according to the ...|