Mediator Lakhdar Brahimi’s dream to oust Bashar Assad from Syria peacefully has been reduced to a three-day truce during Eid Al-Adha. Yet even this simple dream may fail.
Syrians trapped in the conflict are in desperate need of a truce to access food, water and medicine, or to move to safer locations. Regime forces continue to punish areas of the country where demonstrations were held and fighters are based, with a blockade lasting several months.
Brahimi is well aware of all details of the crisis and the distinctions between the reasonable and impossible. He proposed a truce to occur during Eid Al-Adha as an opportunity to test both parties’ desire to cooperate, if only for humanitarian purposes.
There is a flaw in his proposal, not in the idea of a truce itself, but in a proposal without international backing through the Security Council. The Russians and Chinese, who refuse to condemn crimes committed by the Assad regime, may not oppose the idea of a three-day Eid truce. Any opposition would reflect on them when they request clemency for Assad.
Assad does not care about how many of his opponents are killed or how many of his own men he loses. This is irrelevant to a man who uses murder as a solution. People from within his own government with whom he is dissatisfied are assassinated. He cares not about the number of men, women and children who will die after being deprived of food, water and medicine. He thinks his acceptance of a truce will harm his image and is willing to increase the number of dead even within the areas that support him.
Brahimi is an intermediary whose integrity is unquestionable, unlike his predecessors, envoy Dabi and mediator Annan. I do not think the Algerian sees eye-to-eye with his government over their support of the Assad regime, although it claims otherwise through their media. He is an experienced, reputable man and his actions are without bias.
He is the Syrian regime’s only hope of a deal acceptable to all; Assad leaves Damascus and a transitional government would take his place, with the minimal amount of damage. We know the opposition would not accept an easy out for the man responsible for the death of tens of thousands of his own people, but Brahimi can secure international support to end the tragedy in Syria. Brahimi may seem the last hope for desperate civilians and the last hope for Assad, besieged in Damascus.
Should the mediator fail to achieve a truce during Eid and find himself unable to progress in any direction, the last of the mediators will leave and we will be left with a bloody fight to the bitter end.
The writer is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. This article was published in the Saudi-based Arab News on Oct. 23, 2012