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Lakhdar Brahimi Fears Syria’s Somalization | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Former U.N.-Arab League special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. Reuters

Algiers- Former U.N.-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi has said that Syria is not just in danger of division but is under the threat of Somalization.

“Iranian influence there is stronger than the Russian influence,” Brahimi said on Sunday during a lecture held at Algeria’s National Assembly on Arab revolutions.

The Algerian diplomat said: “Because I know facts on the situation in Syria … What I fear today is not division but Somalization; meaning the collapse of the state and (allowing) the emirs of gangs to control (the situation) on the ground.”

“Currently, the only hope is the American-Russian rapprochement in the crisis,” he said, lamenting that inter-Syrian negotiations “did not bear fruit,” and “Arab efforts on the crisis did not succeed.”

The diplomat hinted that the Syrian regime was responsible for the crisis.

“Bashar Assad gave a speech in 2011 when the wave of the so-called Arab Revolutions erupted, advising Arabs to deal flexibly with the protests in their countries. But he resorted to excessive force when limited demonstrations erupted in the city of Daraa,” said Brahimi.

The Syrian conflict, which erupted in March 2011, has left hundreds of thousands of people dead, and millions homeless. It also created the biggest migrant crisis in the world.

The Syrian war gave ISIS extremists the opportunity to control large swaths of land and use them to launch attacks on other territories.

Brahimi criticized Iran’s expansion in the region.

“The Iranian Revolution in 1979 was seen at its start as being fundamentally based on Islam but it soon turned into an extremist Shi’ite revolt and led to the current wars between Sunnis and Shi’ites,” he said.

“No wonder that Iranians exert influence on Lebanon and rule Iraq in a way that exceeds American power, and rule Syria more than Russian dominance,” he said.

Brahimi also criticized the American interference in Iraq.

“Washington was quick to hand over what’s left of Iraq to Iranian influence by giving power to militants that are linked to Iran,” he said.

“And now the Iranians are practicing their influence in Yemen and are interfering in Bahrain and the eastern part of Saudi Arabia,” he added.