Lakhdar Brahimi who formerly was foreign minister in the Algerian government was appointed to the unenviable job of envoy to Syria from the UN and Arab League. Brahimi replacesin the position. Annan resigned two weeks ago. His attempts to stop the ongoing conflict were frustrated when both sides refused to keep to the conditions he had laid down. Brahimi will start his job at the end of August. Even before he starts work he has managed to offend both sides in the conflict
. On French TV Brahimi said that the year and a half conflict had evovled into a civil war. He said:. “I believe that it has already been the case for some time.. What we need to do is to stop the civil war and that is not going to be easy.” Most observers no doubt consider what Brahimi quite true and that he is facing the facts. However, the Syrian government considers the conflict to be with terrorists. The Syrian Foreign Ministry said:"...to speak of civil war in Syria contradicts reality and is found only in the head of conspirators.”
Brahimi in an interview with the BBC then offended the rebels. No doubt Brahimi did not want to make negotiations with Assad more difficult by accepting the position of many in the west that he must resign. When asked whether he had concluded that Assad should step down he said: “I am not in a position to say yet because I was appointed a couple of days ago.”
Perhaps it is a good sign that both sides are riled by statements that Brahimi has made. It may show that he is trying to be somewhat neutral and the two sides are so opposed that they cannot accept this. Brahimi will probably not be able to stop the conflict any more than Annan could. Neither side wants peace at this time. Perhaps if there is a prolonged stalemate the situation may change. Nevertheless Brahimi may be able to negotiate some humanitarian relief. For more see this article.