Could Syria become another Somalia?

A diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria seemed as far away as ever on Saturday, as the UN-Arab League envoy to Damascus, Lakhdar Brahimi, said the country risked slithering into "hell".

Following talks in Moscow with Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, Brahimi said there was no alternative to negotiations. The country faced two stark choices, he said – a serious, Syrian-led political dialogue between the rebels and the regime, or what he darkly called "Somali-isation".

Brahimi – who held talks on Monday in Damascus with Syria's defiant president, Bashar al-Assad – said stopping the bloody civil war in 2013 was indispensable. But, he conceded, the obstacles to peace were enormous.

After almost two years of fighting, both sides "disagreed violently even about the analysis of the situation", he said. The Assad regime insisted it was battling "terrorists", while the armed opposition said it was leading a popular uprising against an "illegitimate" government, already in power for 40 years.

Brahimi's trip to Moscow came amid an upswing in diplomatic activity by the Kremlin, Assad's most significant foreign backer and arms supplier. Russia last week signalled for the first time it was willing to hold talks with Syria's opposition.

On Friday, however, the leader of the opposition coalition, Sheikh Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, bluntly dismissed an invitation to Moscow. He told al-Jazeera that Russia should apologise for supporting Assad, then unequivocally condemn his barbarity and press him to resign.

On Saturday Lavrov scathingly described Khatib's stance as "wrong" and a "dead-end position". He claimed it was "counter-productive" to insist Assad should step down as a precondition for any talks. "He [Assad] will stay until the end. He will defend Syria's people and Syria's sovereignty. There is no possibility that this position will change," Lavrov said, adding that Russia was willing to hold talks with Syria's opposition in a "neutral" Arab capital.

Russia has said it supports a proposal made in Geneva last June that would see Assad stay in power temporarily, while a transitional government was formed with the assistance of international peacekeepers. But the plan does not specify what would happen to Assad afterwards, nor how his security could be guaranteed. Syria's rebels have rejected it. They say it does not meet the key demand of their revolution – that Assad should quit.
The chances that the Russians can broker a piece are remote.  They are about as far from a neutral party as one can get from the perspective of the rebels.  At this point the rebels feel like they have momentum and it is only a matter of time until they over throw Assad.  That Assad would even consider talks suggest he knows the hold he has on Syria is slipping away.  The Russians would like to salvage something from their investment in Assad, but it looks like they are having the opposite effect.

Meanwhile are President is still leading from behind as if he is following the women's movement rather than trying to create a peaceful resolution.

I don't think that Syria will turn into Somalia.  Its tribal make up is not as primitive as that of Somalia  but the country could drift into a sectarian war closer to the situation in Iraq.  Iran would still be the big loser followed by Russia and the Palestinian terrorist organizations.


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