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Envoy warns that Syria could become a failed state

Caption
Lakhdar Brahimi, Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria, answers media questions after consultations at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria warned the international community Friday that the Mideast nation will become a failed state unless there is a negotiated political solution to the 19-month conflict.

Lakhdar Brahimi, told the U.N. General Assembly that nobody wants this to happen because it would have disastrous consequences across the region, leading to lawlessness, warlords, banditry, narcotics, arms smuggling and worst of all communal and ethnic strife.

After speaking to the government and opposition and visiting Syria's neighbors, Brahimi told the 193-member world organization that he believes that only the Security Council can put together a peace plan. He urged the U.N.'s most powerful body to overcome its deep divisions and adopt a resolution aimed at ending the civil war, which activists say has killed at least 40,000 people since March 2011.

"Difficult as it has been for the council to reach a consensus on an implementable roadmap for Syria, I nevertheless feel that it is here, and only here, that a credible, implementable process can be put together," Brahimi said.

Russia and China, key allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad, have vetoed three Western-backed resolutions aimed at pressuring the government to stop the violence.

Brahimi said "the building blocks for a political process to end the crisis in Syria already exist" in the roadmap outlined by the Action Group for Syria at a meeting in Geneva on June 30.

Although the group includes the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council, Russia and China later vetoed a resolution supporting the Geneva document because it threatened to put pressure on Assad if the fighting didn't end.

Brahimi said that just because the first attempt to implement the Geneva roadmap failed, that "does not mean it will be impossible for other attempts to succeed."

He said an eventual Security Council resolution must include "a large, robust peacekeeping force" to ensure a ceasefire is observed because the government and opposition do not trust each other.

It must also include the establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive powers at the beginning of the political process and elections at the end.

Brahimi said a unified opposition is also essential, adding that an agreement between opposition groups in Doha, Qatar, just over two weeks ago was a "step in the right direction."

Brahimi said fighting in Syria has spread to almost all parts of the country with anti-government forces reportedly achieving significant gains in recent weeks,. Still, he said, the government, "remains confident that they will have the upper hand."

Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari told the assembly that his government supports Brahimi's mission and agrees that the solution to the conflict must be a Syrian-driven political solution, adding "not a terrorist solution, not an armed solution, not a solution put there through foreign intervention in Syrian affairs."

He said the solution must also require countries supporting the opposition to be pressured to stop providing weapons and financing for "armed terrorist groups" and to encourage dialogue.

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