The wheels of diplomacy to resolve the Syrian crisis may have begun to turn swiftly as Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations and Arab League envoy on Syria, has reinforced the call for a dialogue at the United Nations between the Syrian government and the opposition.
“We believe that if the dialogue starts at the U.N. headquarters between the opposition and a delegation from the Syrian government, it will be a beginning for getting Syria out of this dark tunnel,” said Mr. Brahimi at a joint press conference in Cairo with Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby.
By calling for talks, Mr. Brahimi was cashing in on the diplomatic opening provided by Syrian opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib who recently expressed willingness to hold talks with selects elements of the Syrian establishment.
Unsurprisingly, Mr. Brahimi prefaced his advocacy for an inter-Syrian dialogue at the U.N. with a reference to Mr. al-Khatib’s gambit. “[Mr.] al-Khatib’s invitation for dialogue with the Syrian regime opened a door for solving the Syrian crisis” the U.N. envoy observed.
In trying to find a negotiated solution to the bloody conflict, Russia — a country that exercises substantial influence over Syria — has arguably acquired pre-eminence. Opposed to “regime change,” Moscow has relentlessly backed last June’s Geneva agreement, which calls for a transition in Syria, without pre-conditioning it on the exit of President Bashar al-Assad.
Mr. Brahimi announced that, leaders of the Arab world, who have been trenchant foes of the Assad government, would soon be knocking on Russia’s door. Accompanied by envoys of four Arab states, Mr. Elaraby would be soon travelling to Moscow to participate in the Arab-Russian forum, where a dialogue on Syria will take highest priority. “The Syrian crisis, [Mr.] Khatib’s invitation and the call for ceasefire would top the discussion list in Russia,” said Mr. Elaraby. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mualem will travel to Moscow later, followed by a visit next month to Russia by Mr. al-Khatib.
Analysts point out that diplomacy has begun to acquire a higher profile as the embittered foes locked in battle for nearly two years may have realised that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict. With the Geneva plan as the touchstone for a diplomatic resolution, Mr. Brahimi has been holding trilateral meetings with William Burns, the Deputy Secretary of State of the United States, and Mikhail Bogdanov, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, in order to explore the framework for a possible deal. Mr. Brahimi has also been holding talks with Mr. al-Khatib.