Syria becoming ‘another Somalia’ ruled by warlords, former UN envoy Brahimi warns
BERLIN / DAMASCUS
Residents and Civil defence members look for survivors from under rubble after what activists said was a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood June 7. REUTERS Photo / Hosam KatanFormer U.N. envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi has warned that the war-torn country was heading toward becoming “another Somalia” ruled by warlords, in an interview published in a German weekly this weekend.
He also said that the entire region may “blow up” if a political solution is not found. Brahimi, the former special representative on Syria for the United Nations and the Arab League, resigned in frustration last month after making little progress towards ending the brutal civil war, now in its fourth year. When asked what he predicted would ultimately become of Syria, the veteran Algerian diplomat told der Spiegel: “It will become another Somalia. It will not be divided, as many have predicted. It’s going to be a failed state, with warlords all over the place.”
Brahimi also painted a grim picture for the countries neighboring Syria. “Unless there is a real, sustained effort to work out a political solution, there is a serious risk that the entire region will blow up. The conflict is not going to stay inside Syria,” he said. Brahimi, who resigned as United Nations special envoy for Afghanistan in 1999, drew comparisons between Syria now and Afghanistan under Taliban rule in the lead-up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. “The U.N. Security Council had no interest in Afghanistan, a small country, poor, far away. I said one day it’s going to blow up in your faces. It did,” he said. “Syria is so much worse.”
Turkey 'struggling to resist' against ISIL
Brahimi oversaw two rounds of peace talks between President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the fractured political opposition-in-exile. But during two years in the post, he was unable to stop the bloodshed in a conflict that has killed more than 162,000 people and created millions of refugees. He also warned of the danger posed by the rise of extremist Islamist groups in Syria, and the threat they posed to the West. He said the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) “is active in both Syria and Iraq already, and Jordan is really struggling to continue resisting. Even Turkey. According to a senior Iraqi official, ISIS has carried out 100 operations in Syria and 1,000 operations in Iraq in just three months.” He added that there were 500 or 600 French nationals, and roughly the same number of Britons, fighting in Syria, together with several thousand non-Syrians.
“These are your nationals that are training in Syria and that are part of [ISIL], which believes that you have got to build an Islamic state all over the world. That’s a threat to you, isn’t it?”
Brahimi’s grim assessment of the country’s future came as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad announced yesterday a “general amnesty” for all crimes committed to date, state television said, without giving further details. The channel cited Justice Minister Najem al-Ahmad as saying the decree was issued in the context of “social forgiveness, national cohesion calls for coexistence, as the army secures several military victories.”
It was not immediately clear who would be included in the amnesty. Rights groups say the Syrian government is holding tens of thousands of prisoners in jails where torture and other abuses are systematic.