The border zone in the Golan Heights had been largely unaffected by Syria’s uprising until March 6, when Syrian rebels seized 21 Filipino members of a United Nations peacekeepingmission from a disputed demilitarized buffer zone between Israel and Syria that has been monitored by U.N. forces since 1974.
United Nations special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi offered the grimmest picture yet of Syria’s descent into chaos, leaving little doubt that diplomatic paths have been exhausted as the conflict drags on indefinitely.
Governments and independent experts have found countless metrics to evaluate the successes and failures of military interventions such as those in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, judging them on everything from casualty rates to the provision of public services. The number of girls attending school in Afghanistan, for example, has been a standard point of reference for supporters of the NATO mission there.
But what metrics can be used to evaluate a deliberate nonintervention?
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.
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.
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.
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.