We do not know what U.N. Special Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is cooking up in order to end the war in Syria. He is the man who represents the last hope of putting an end to the killings and destruction, having been tasked to solve the most serious issue that has preoccupied the Middle East, an issue whose impact will go far beyond our own region.
In view of his silence and a lack of information regarding what he is doing, it is only natural that we should be concerned about the statements being attributed to him, although he always later comes out to deny these. This time, however, it is rumored that he is touring regional capital cities in order to promote a new project which would see Bashar al-Assad step down in more than a year, being replaced following forthcoming elections that will take place under international supervision.
Due to Brahimi’s on-going silence, we have no option but to consider this as one of the potential solutions, particularly as his fingerprints are all over this. We have all come to know Brahimi’s reconciliatory style that seeks a compromise that is acceptable to all parties. However at this point, we must ask: is the idea of al-Assad’s resignation followed by elections a good way out of the crisis? Or is this a potential crisis that will only further complicate the issue, rather than resolve it?
In my opinion, such a proposal is futile and doomed to failure. Firstly, this is because a proposal such as this is inapplicable, more importantly this is something that will steer Syria towards a larger full-scale civil war. Syria is not Lebanon or Afghanistan; two states where Brahimi accomplished joint peace projects. In Syria, the revolution is between the palace and the street; this is not a struggle between local powers, as was the case with in Lebanon and Afghanistan. Therefore, Brahimi must not be a horse for al-Assad or the Iranians to ride upon and leap over the rebels' heads, steering the Syrian revolution towards a multi-party conflict which would give al-Assad the opportunity to be a part of the solution when he was the cause of the problem in the first place. In reality, this is an overwhelming popular revolution against the regime. The regime has waged a war against this revolution, but is now losing the battle on the ground. Today, the rebels have managed to defeat the regime’s troops in Rif Dimashq, and so it is completely unreasonably and unacceptable that they should allow al-Assad to remain in power until 2014.
Indeed, this extra year in power would only mean more bloodshed, more destruction and more sabotage to the country. If Brahimi thinks that he is capable of protecting the regime until the end of next year, he is dreaming! The al-Assad regime is now on the ropes and it is impossible for it to return to political life.
If Brahimi wants to save Syria, then he must convince al-Assad, or at least the Russians, that this president, who is drowning in blood, must pack his bags and step down from power as soon as possible. The price of stopping the bloodshed is for al-Assad to step down and hand over power to the opposition. This is a provisional solution that may not be obtainable when the rebels begin their siege of the presidential palaces in Damascus. Bashar al-Assad can hand over power to a real opposition now, not the fake opposition the regime sent to Iran a few days ago. The solution is for al-Assad to step down and transfer power to the Syrian opposition, perhaps under international auspices until free elections can be held to allow the Syrian people to choose their president.
We know that Brahimi will respond sarcastically: If the situation is that easy, then why do you need me? We would answer that the Syrian people do not want him to put forward a political solution that would prolong the crisis and grant legitimacy to what remains of al-Assad’s presidency, and then see this criminal leave office with full honours! History will not judge Brahimi mercifully if this solution comes to pass, regardless of the difficulties he is facing in putting out this disastrous fire. If the U.N. special envoy is unable to reach a resolution that is satisfactory to the Syrian people, and if he is unable to see the crimes that are being committed by the al-Assad regime on a daily basis, and if he is unable to push the U.N. Security Council members to end the genocide being committed by the regime in broad daylight; then he must go home and completely reject being a partner in covering up what is happening in Syria. We accept and appreciate what he is doing and are conscious of his repetitive warnings that the impact of the Syrian crisis will reach the rest of the regional countries unless they cooperate with him to reach some solution.
However we would say to him that: the regional countries are not behind the Syrian revolution, nor do they have the power to end this. Indeed, no one has the authority to dictate to the rebels and urge them to accept something that they do not want, particularly as they are now closer to victory than ever before.
(The writer is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. The article was published in Asharq al-Awsat on Nov. 29, 2012)