Veteran international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi on his first day of the job Saturday told Al Arabiya television that the Syrian government has to meet the people’s demand for change.
“The Syrian government has to meet the people’s demand for change,” Brahimi told Al Arabiya's Talal Alhaj in an interview from New York, adding that “the government’s responsibility to stop the violence is bigger” than that of the opposition forces.
The United Nations announced in the middle of August that Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat, would take over from Kofi Annan to negotiate an end to the 17-month old conflict in which activists say more than 25,000 people have been killed.
Former U.N. chief Annan stepped down as envoy following the failure of his six-point peace plan.
“I realize the scale of suffering of the Syrian people,” Brahimi said in the Saturday interview, calling for all parties in Syria to cease violence.
Brahimi told Al Arabiya that sending Arab forces into Syria was currently not under consideration, and that ”military interference in Syria means failure of diplomatic efforts.”
“For me, this option is not available, and personally, this will be neither today nor tomorrow nor after tomorrow,” he said.
Syria has pledged to cooperate with Brahimi, 78, who among his several high-profile positions, served as U.N. envoy in Afghanistan before and after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, and in Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.
“Those I have met at the United Nations understand…that i cannot execute my mission without full and clear support on their part. I believe they understand that,” Brahimi said.
Brahimi has been in New York for the past week for talks with UN leaders and senior diplomats from U.N. Security Council nations and other countries, before officially taking up his post September 1.
The envoy has reputation as a tough, independent negotiator and is also a member of the Elders, the group of former world leaders that works for global peace.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government was accused by international observers of not fully cooperating with the previous U.N. mission: ceasefire deadlines were not met by Syrian regime security forces and deadly violence continued across the country.