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‘No military solution’ in Syria, admit people on both sides of war

November 27th, 2013
03:08 PM ET

EDITOR'S NOTE: Amanpour's full interview with Brahimi can be seen here.

By Mick Krever, CNN

People on both sides of Syria’s civil war now agree that there is no military solution to the conflict, Lakhdar Brahimi, U.N. special envoy for Syria, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

“Some time ago, both sides were absolutely certain that they are winning,” Brahimi said. Now, “individuals on each side tell me that there is no military solution.”

The U.N. announced on Monday that new Syria peace talks would be held in Geneva, Switzerland, in January, but the full list of attendees is still unknown.

One of the more contentious invitees is Iran, which has said that if invited it would “participate without any preconditions.”

Brahimi supports Iran’s attendance, as do the U.N. secretary-general and the secretary-general of the Arab League.

The U.S. has expressed openness to Iran participating, but would like to see Tehran accept the framework of a June 2012 agreement that calls for a transitional government to be formed by mutual consent of all sides.

“In a conference like this, you don't invite only onlookers,” Brahimi said. “You invite people who have influence.”

Many observers say that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would have been defeated some time ago were it not for the help he receives from Iran, in the form of military support, Iranian Revolutionary Guard fighters, and militants from Iran-backed Hezbollah.

Amanpour put this claim to Brahimi.

“If half of what you say is true, then Iran must have a hell of a lot of influence,” he said. “And that is why it should be there.”

Brahimi told Amanpour that he had spoken “at length” with the Iranians, and was encouraged by their attitude.

They have told him, he recounted, “‘If you think you can invite us without any conditions, we'll be happy to come and we will be constructive. If you can’t, that's fine. We will be supportive anyway.’”

The starting point of this new round of talks is that June 2012 agreement, known as the Geneva Communique.

That document called for “an immediate cessation of violence in all its forms” as a step towards further talks. Brahimi admitted that “things have changed” since then.

“There will be no cease-fire,” he said. “So we are now calling on the parties who are coming to Geneva to see if they can take any confidence-building measures.”

Among those steps, he said, would be “diminishing” the level of violence, releasing prisoners, and facilitating the arrival of humanitarian aid.

Brahimi said that the Syrian government had made “very promising” pledges about improving the flow of humanitarian aid and said that he was also speaking to the opposition about allowing better access.

The Syrian government has confirmed it will attend. The opposition has also said it will participate, Brahimi said, despite having “questions, fears, and doubts.”

Indeed, just what the “opposition” means is a worthwhile question, as most observers agree that it is incredibly fractured. The moderate opposition military wing supported by the United States, the Free Syrian Army, has said it will not attend, though it is not clear if it was invited in the first place.

“The fracturing of society in Syria is such that you cannot hope to have everybody, every single group and individual represented in the beginning of this process,” Brahimi said. “If we have a group that is reasonably representative of the political opposition to the present regime, I think we can start.”

Syria’s deputy foreign minister, Faisal al Mekdad, told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen on Monday that there should be no preconditions to the talks, but insisted that al-Assad would be involved in any transitional government, in effect setting a precondition.

“What has been said is that there will be no preconditions,” Brahimi responded, “but once the conference starts the parties will be free to put on the table issues that they feel strongly about.”

The fact that it has taken so long for this second round of peace talks to get under way is “embarrassing,” Brahimi said – indicative of how complicated and difficult the situation is.

Nonetheless, he was confident that the conference would go on as planned.

“We are going into this with our eyes open,” he said. “We know it's not going to be easy. We know that there are hurdles already now, as we speak. And there will be more hurdles as we come nearly to the conference.”

“We want this to succeed. We want Syria to get out of this black tunnel it has been engulfed in.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iran • Latest Episode • Syria
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. truthaholics

    Reblogged this on | truthaholics.

    November 27, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  2. Aaron

    Why on earth would the Free Syrian Leaders want to stop the war when they are living in luxury hotels in London and getting free money from Qatar and Saudi Arabia??? The longer the war goes on, the richer the Rebel Leaders get. This is the sad truth.

    November 27, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Reply
  3. Yury

    100,000 people (11,000 children) dead ... before the inevitable negotiations...

    Simple question:
    How many people would have died if Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have not invested billions of dollars into the Sunni rebellion? It is clear that much less ... But sheikhs wanted to create the Sunni caliphate at any cost ...

    Also U.S. and Europe have actively supported the "very democratic" Sunni radicals thereby expanding of shooting war and massacre...

    Who is really to blame for so many deaths?

    November 27, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Reply
  4. Uncommon sense

    John Lennon famously wrote "Give peace a chance". A noble sentiment. But he probably hadn't figured on the intractable hatred which forms a core value of Islam. The hatred is not only towards infidels (non believers) but between different factions. It manifests in the violence, killing, beheadings, rapes, torture, terrorism, gross widespread human rights abuse etc.
    The world needs to recognise that the problem is the evil values. It is a crime against humanity!

    November 27, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Reply
  5. eddie2010

    Maybe if the US and Saudi arabia stopped funding the so-called rebels, then there could be peace. Otherwise the war will go on until either country runs out of money, or idiots willing to die for a twisted version of Islam.

    November 27, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Reply
    • scrut

      well said

      December 3, 2013 at 5:11 am | Reply
  6. ashok

    Sad that so many lives had to be lost before this stalemate developed.

    November 28, 2013 at 5:40 am | Reply
  7. Bless236

    This is a good development/.

    November 28, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Reply
  8. Bless236

    AID won't be send till there is a conflict going on. See the rules of Geneve convention by the Red Cross.

    November 28, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  9. Mike

    I'm just happy Putin outsmarted Obama and the Zionist cries for more blood. This is not a conflict that we should be involved in.

    November 29, 2013 at 9:37 am | Reply
  10. ep tor

    The author is naïve. Politically unresolvable conflicts such as this have always and will always be ultimately resolved by war. It's just a matter of how bloodied the losing side is will be before it surrenders. It may well result in the obliteration of virtually every city and hundreds of thousands of deaths – mostly civilians. But eventually, one side will prevail. The death toll will be exceptionally high because religion is involved. Deeply backward (conservative) religious fighters are under a false impression they are supported by a non-existent god and "don't mind" dying. They believe they are martyrs, even though in actual fact, they are just fools eager to be slaughtered for a mindless cause. Fodder for worms is all they have to look forward to when they die – just like everyone else.

    December 1, 2013 at 5:18 am | Reply
  11. José Ramón Herrera

    Yes, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are fuelling this war, with the approval of U.S. and France. Why the West wants the rule of Sunni Salafists, Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra in Syria? Because they think they’ll counteract the influence of Shi’ites particularly Iran. They don’t value the secular regimes like Saddam Hussein’s in Iraq and Al-Assad in Syria which were able to give all minorities including Christians equal rights. Al-Qaeda and Shi’ite extremists were under control.
    If there’re crippled children in Syria, it is with the stupid complicity of U.S. (look al C.I.A., their implication is criminal).

    December 3, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Reply
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