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Syrian opposition to consider call for Brahimi's removal - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, speaks to reporters in Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 (AP Photo/SANA)

U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, speaks to reporters in Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 (AP Photo/SANA)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—The most prominent Syrian opposition alliance is considering calling for the removal of Lakhdar Brahimi as the UN-Arab League special envoy for the Syrian crisis, Asharq Al-Awsat has learned.

A proposal to petition the Arab League to remove Brahimi from his post will be discussed at a meeting of the political bureau of the National Coalition of Syrian Opposition and Revolutionary Forces at the end of the month, according to Ahmad Ramadan, a member of the body.

The proposal was originally put forward by the Syrian National Council, which is itself a member of the Coalition.

Ramadan, who also sits on the Council’s executive committee, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “our problem is not only with Brahimi, despite the anger at his stances, but with the Geneva II conference, which is rejected by the Coalition and the Council, as well as most of the Syrian revolutionary forces, unless it leads to the exclusion of Assad from Syria’s future.”

Brahimi has called on all sides in the Syrian conflict to attend a peace conference in the Swiss city of Geneva in November, which will be aimed at finding a political solution to the conflict. Dubbed “Geneva II,” it has the backing of the US and Russia, as well as the 11 core members of the pro-opposition Friends of Syria group, which has urged the opposition to attend.

In an effort to promote the conference, Brahimi arrived in Damascus on Sunday via Beirut on a five-day visit following a trip to Tehran. He is expected to return to Beirut to discuss the results of his visits with Lebanese officials.

Brahimi is expected to meet President Assad and hold talks with Foreign Minister Walid Al-Mouallem and his deputy Faisal Miqdad. He held a meeting in Beirut earlier, with the UN secretary general’s personal envoy in Lebanon, Derek Plumbly.

Criticisms of Brahimi have mounted within the Syrian opposition following his comments on a visit to Tehran, when he said: “Iran must be invited to attend Geneva II,” and said Iranian participation was “natural, necessary and productive.”

Another member of the Council, Samir Nashar, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Brahimi had caused great anger among the Syrian opposition and its regional allies.

Nashar said Brahimi “not only angered the opposition, but also angered most prominent Arab states who supported Syrian people, as well as Turkey… His talk about Iran’s participation has exposed his role, where Syrians look at Iran as a partner in the killing operations which they are subjected to and as a major party to the conflict on the side of the regime.”

Member of the Coalition Kamal Al-Lubani told Asharq Al-Awsat that “relieving [Brahimi] from his duties is necessary because he is part of the oppressive regime… we are very unhappy with him and demand his dismissal.”

Lubani said Brahimi was “not impartial” because “he visited everyone but not the Syrian people,” adding that the Arab and international joint envoy to Syria “did not visit Yalda and Ma’adhamiyah whose people are dying from hunger, and did not visit Ghoutah, which was hit by chemical weapons.”

Meanwhile, Brahimi was preparing to meet Syrian officials, as well as a delegation from the internal opposition, led by the Coordination Committee. Its secretary general for the Syrian diaspora, Majid Habbo, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the committee was awaiting an invitation to the upcoming talks in Geneva and that Brahimi will inform the committee of the results of his talks with the Syrian regime and the regional countries who can influence the end of the Syrian conflict.

Habbo added that the delegation “will stress during the meeting on the necessity to adhere to the political document which we presented, to strengthen trust between the regime and the people, to start opening safe passages for civilians, and to release detainees and meet other demands.”

Habbo said: “We can only be optimistic … we must listen to the sound of reason and look for common denominators to end the conflict.”

So far, Brahimi has visited several regional states, including Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Qatar, and is expected to have consultations about the results of these visits with US and Russian diplomats.