The UN Envoy to Syria's Disastrous Failure: De Mistura's Misguided Efforts Have Nullified All The Huge International Overtures
06 March 2015
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
The UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura has succeeded in achieving only one
thing: arousing anger in most Syrians.
He started his mission four months ago with a disappointing plan based on a
ceasefire in Aleppo. But he is yet to accomplish anything. Although he
focused his ambitions on a cessation of hostilities in only two neighborhoods
in Aleppo, the proposal didn't gain a significant response. Syrian President
Bashar Al-Assad agreed on the ceasefire in just one neighborhood, because he
has no authority there. Meanwhile, the armed opposition didn't concern itself
with de Mistura's plans.
De Mistura's mission was more like a smokescreen: he left the international
coalition to fight on behalf of the regime in areas occupied by the Islamic
State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and disregarded the daily systematic attacks
perpetrated by Assad's forces in civilian areas. The goal of Syria's
embattled president was and still is to expand the scope of the tragedy in
order to force millions of Syrians to busy themselves with searching for food
and shelter day after day.
Mistura's four months were wasted—Syrians only saw him smiling with Assad,
who has killed more than a quarter of a million people so far. Just like his
predecessors, the UN envoy has just filled the diplomatic void. He has done
what it takes to distract the various forces and the 20 million Syrians, who
are mostly living without housing or basic needs.
What does the international envoy want to achieve if he fulfills his plan to
stop fighting in the two Aleppo neighborhoods for a whole six weeks? Perhaps
providing food supplies? This was previously done through a rescue mission,
without it being considered a political solution. Of course, de Mistura can
throw the ball in our court now and ask: ''What else can I do when I have
neither the power nor the authorization to impose international sanctions?''
We know that de Mistura's authority does not outdo that of Angelina Jolie's,
who is visiting the region in highly respected humanitarian missions. We know
that he cannot do anything so dramatic as to do what the majority want and
get rid of Assad and his regime. Nevertheless, he is expected to at least
start from where the Geneva Conference ended, which stipulates the
establishment of a new government formed using the remnants of Assad's regime
but without the Syrian president himself, in addition to the opposition
forces and representatives of all Syrian society, including Alawites. To a
certain extent, this is close to what some of the regime's allies, such as
the Russians, have been saying over and over for a while now: that they are
not going to cling to Assad if an acceptable solution is found.
Forging ahead with an acceptable solution is going to be a difficult equation
for de Mistura. He might be able to find an equation that can convince the
parties to make concessions and gradually narrow the distances between them.
But his mission has as time has gone on become more like swimming in the
ocean: he spent four months in order to try to achieve a ceasefire in one or
two neighborhoods in one city in a country that is being burnt and destroyed
every day. I think his plan caused the dispersal of previous ideas and
assured Assad and his regime, which were afraid of the international
intervention under the pretext of fighting ISIS.
The envoy and his mission prevented the exertion of further pressures on
Assad, despite the fact that dozens of countries from around the world have
their aircraft and troops wandering all over Syria. What de Mistura did was
just grant Assad and his men the confidence that they can continue killing
more than tens of thousands of civilians, and destroying cities with barrel
bombs, rockets and mercenaries from Iran, Lebanon and Iraq.
What stirred the doubts of the Syrians in the envoy's mission is that he
launched it by saying that the future plan would be a regime approved by
Assad. Practically, de Mistura's misguided efforts have nullified all the
huge international overtures carefully deployed previously and the Geneva
peace accords. He lined up alongside Iran. His actions show that he is more
like Walid Al-Mouallem or Faisal Mekdad; just another employee at the Syrian
foreign ministry. We kept silent on his actions for four months, hoping that
he would find a solution, but the situation has worsened further, tarnishing
what remains of any respect countries in the region have toward the United
Due to the volume of public anger surrounding his post, maybe it would be
better for de Mistura to pack his bags and just leave the region.
Al Rashed is the general manager of
Al -Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-
Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a
senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a
US post-graduate degree in mass communications. He has been a guest on many
TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.