U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sounded a gloomy note on the prospects for a diplomatic breakthrough on Syria, telling reporters today at Turtle Bay that U.N.-backed efforts to curtail the violence were proving elusive.

Read the full Foreign Policy article here

Jan 22, 2013
Richard Gowan
Middle East, Syria

This report sets out to show how the UN can reinforce its utility and legitimacy in conflict prevention and mediation in a complex international environment. It draws on a series of case studies on conflict prevention for the NYU Center on International Cooperation (CIC)—including analyses of the Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Middle East and West Africa—which show how the UN’s engagement in the deterioration phases of a series of recent crises has prevented or reduced conflict, or at least has established a framework for later peace talks.

Lakhdar Brahimi has been the United Nations and Arab League envoy for Syria for less than five. But while his chances of orchestrating a peace deal are now vanishingly small, he should not quit quite yet.

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Jan 15, 2013
Richard Gowan
Middle East, Syria

Does Lakhdar Brahimi have any good options for ending the Syrian war? Brahimi has served as the United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria for more than three months, having been chosen to replace Kofi Annan in August. Unlike Annan, who tried to mediate a resolution to the conflict under constant media scrutiny, Brahimi has adopted a low profile. But like Annan, he has struggled to find a way to bring the regime and rebels together.

Dec 10, 2012
Richard Gowan
Middle East, Syria

As Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, reflects on the challenges ahead in 2013, he may wonder if he will be able to manage the consequences of a lost war.

Read the full World Politics Review article here

Dec 17, 2012
Richard Gowan
Middle East, Syria

Earlier this year, Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.-Arab League mediator for Syria, determined that more than 3,000 heavily-armed U.N. blue helmets would be required in Syria to enforce a peace deal he was hoping to broker between President Bashar al-Assad's government and an assortment of anti-government armed forces and opposition politicians.

Read the full Foreign Policy article here

Dec 20, 2012
Richard Gowan
Middle East, Syria

The United Nations warned Tuesday, December 25, that Syrians are "losing hope" as war worsens in their country, with prospects of a diplomatic end now at rock bottom, and international aid is cut.

Read the full Agence France-Presse article here

Dec 25, 2012
Richard Gowan
Middle East, Syria

After a year of intensive diplomatic efforts by the world body, U.N.-Arab League peace mediator Lakhdar Brahimi of Algeria has made no more progress than his predecessor, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in getting the government and rebels to come to the negotiating table, or getting Russia and the United States to overcome their deep disagreements on Syria.

Read the full Reuters article here

Dec 28, 2012
Richard Gowan
Middle East, Syria

Peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi's latest talks with Syria's President Bashar Assad produced no sign of a willingness to negotiate, diplomats said, and there are mounting warnings of a sectarian war taking over the uprising against Assad.

Read the full Naharnet article here

Dec 25, 2012
Richard Gowan
Middle East, Syria
Fragile States

The wars in Mali and Syria have followed very different trajectories over the past month. While Syria has become symbolic of international inaction, France’s use of force in Mali has shown that some Western governments are still willing to launch new interventions abroad.

Read the full World Politics Review article here