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UN Envoy Opposes Arming Opposition - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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UN–Arab League Syria mediator Lakhdar Brahimi speaks during a press conference with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al-Araby, left, at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt on Monday, March 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

UN–Arab League Syria mediator Lakhdar Brahimi speaks during a press conference with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al-Araby, left, at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt on Monday, March 18, 201. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The United Nations envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said yesterday that he was opposed to plans to arms the Syrian opposition, and emphasized the need for a political solution to the crisis.

Speaking to Britain’s Channel 4 news, the diplomat said, “I personally think that this is not the way. The way is to help the parties come to an agreement on how to end this war.”

Brahimi’s comments followed a declaration at the close of week’s Arab League conference in Qatar, which reaffirmed the “right” of the organization’s member states to provide military aid to the Syrian opposition.

The conference also saw the Syrian seat in the Arab League handed to the Syrian National Coalition, the umbrella group that represents a large segment of the opposition to the government of Bashar Al-Assad.

In addition, France and Britain have recently hinted that they are considering supplying military aid to the rebels in Syria in order to force Assad to the negotiating table. They have also made attempts to persuade the EU to ease its arms embargo.

Brahimi admitted that the situation in Syria is “extremely bad and getting worse all the time. I haven’t seen, and do not see, any improvement.”

He added, “Both sides are looking for a military victory. Each one of them I think still believes that military victory is possible for their side; therefore, the intensity of the fighting is increasing and expanding.”

There were reports of fighting across Syria as the week drew to a close, with rebels reportedly capturing the town of Da’el on the Jordanian–Syrian border after a day of fierce combat, increasing rebel control of the highways leading north to the Syrian capital of Damascus.

On Thursday, Syrian government television channels reported that 15 civilians were killed and more than 20 injured when mortar rounds hit the architecture department of Damascus University.

Since the uprising against Assad’s government began two years ago, the UN estimates that over 70,000 people have been killed, with millions more displaced both inside and outside Syria.

Brahimi admitted that the UN was struggling to cope with the flow of refugees into neighboring countries.

He said, “The international community, including the United Nations, are not doing enough to help the refugees and the people who need help inside Syria. What little help has reached the people both in the refugee camps and inside Syria is mostly done by the UN … it’s a question of money, really.

“What really needs to be done is to work effectively, all of us—the Syrians, the region, and the international community—to reach a political solution to the conflict.”