Commentary Magazine


Topic: Lakhdar Brahimi

Brahimi Fiddles While Syria Burns

Lakhdar Brahimi, the former Algerian foreign minister, has since August 2012 been both the Arab League and United Nations special envoy to Syria. That United Nations mission costs big bucks, but it has little to show for its budget, beyond a large expense account, frequent flier mileage, and 5-star hotel suite bookings. Certainly, Brahimi’s ministrations have not brought peace any closer to Syria; the death toll has escalated sharply over the past year. Neither the Assad regime nor the Syrian opposition appear to take Brahimi’s finger waving seriously.

So what is Brahimi doing? On July 22, along with Jimmy Carter, former Finnish President Marti Ahtisaari, and former Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher, Brahimi will be discussing… the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He is doing so as part of the Elders, a self-professed group of wise men and women who say they “offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity,” they are better known for espousing moral equivalence, selectivity, and legitimization of terrorists.

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Lakhdar Brahimi, the former Algerian foreign minister, has since August 2012 been both the Arab League and United Nations special envoy to Syria. That United Nations mission costs big bucks, but it has little to show for its budget, beyond a large expense account, frequent flier mileage, and 5-star hotel suite bookings. Certainly, Brahimi’s ministrations have not brought peace any closer to Syria; the death toll has escalated sharply over the past year. Neither the Assad regime nor the Syrian opposition appear to take Brahimi’s finger waving seriously.

So what is Brahimi doing? On July 22, along with Jimmy Carter, former Finnish President Marti Ahtisaari, and former Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher, Brahimi will be discussing… the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He is doing so as part of the Elders, a self-professed group of wise men and women who say they “offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity,” they are better known for espousing moral equivalence, selectivity, and legitimization of terrorists.

How sad it is that such a wise man—when tasked with the life-and-death mission of ending bloodshed in Syria—would instead choose to use his time to address the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Perhaps nothing symbolizes the international obsession with Israel more than Brahimi’s fiddling while Syria burns.

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Brahimi Pick Shows UN Disdain for Syrians

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appears ready to appoint former Algerian Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi to replace Kofi Annan as head of the joint U.N.-Arab League mission to Syria. Other than Kofi Annan, who failed to protect the vulnerable in both Rwanda and at Srebrenica, it would be hard to find a more insipid choice than Brahimi.

As Foreign Minister of Algeria, Brahimi distinguished himself as a fierce Nasserist, not as a man of peace. As undersecretary of the Arab League between 1984 and 1991, Brahimi sat silent as Iraqi President Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurds and, in the wake of the failed uprising, killed as many if not more Iraqi Shi’ites. Visiting Baghdad in 1997, Brahimi added insult to injury, as Iraqi television showed him embracing Saddam’s Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, a man now facing a death sentence for crimes against humanity. The love may have been genuine: As a special UN representative for Iraq in the wake of Saddam’s fall, Brahimi made rehabilitation of Baathist war criminals a central pillar of his mission.

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appears ready to appoint former Algerian Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi to replace Kofi Annan as head of the joint U.N.-Arab League mission to Syria. Other than Kofi Annan, who failed to protect the vulnerable in both Rwanda and at Srebrenica, it would be hard to find a more insipid choice than Brahimi.

As Foreign Minister of Algeria, Brahimi distinguished himself as a fierce Nasserist, not as a man of peace. As undersecretary of the Arab League between 1984 and 1991, Brahimi sat silent as Iraqi President Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurds and, in the wake of the failed uprising, killed as many if not more Iraqi Shi’ites. Visiting Baghdad in 1997, Brahimi added insult to injury, as Iraqi television showed him embracing Saddam’s Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, a man now facing a death sentence for crimes against humanity. The love may have been genuine: As a special UN representative for Iraq in the wake of Saddam’s fall, Brahimi made rehabilitation of Baathist war criminals a central pillar of his mission.

Western diplomats may celebrate Brahimi for his assistance patching together an Afghan government after the Taliban’s fall. Whatever success he can claim there, however, came because Afghanistan was distant enough from the failed ideologies of the Arab Middle East. Not so in Syria. Appointing Brahimi as mediator is akin to putting a fox in charge of the hen house. He promises not to bring peace, but to serve the whims of a dictator bent on repressing those seeking to unseat him.

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