• Switzerland's news in English

UN’s Syria mediator should keep open mind

The Local · 18 Feb 2014, 19:50

Published: 18 Feb 2014 19:50 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Part of the blame lies with the structure itself of the UN, where the “great powers” are permitted to be above international influence and the boundaries of nations do not align with the world’s natural groupings.

Still, part of the deficiency of the process lies in the approach used by the mediator in the Syria talks in Geneva.

UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi apologized over the weekend to Syrians for failing to make greater progress in the Geneva talks and criticized Syrian President Assad’s representatives for refusing to discuss his stepping down as part of a potential agreement.

There are other ways to proceed and arrive at a solution that is mutually acceptable to all the stakeholders, if only the parties and especially the mediator keep an open mind about how to get to the end goal.

Brahimi appears to be rigid in the outcomes he is willing to consider — for him, the only option seems to be for Assad to ultimately step down.

And because this is not negotiable for the Syrian government, the talks are at a stalemate.

But one must consider the history of the region to get a bigger picture of possible solutions.

The “nation” of Syria was cobbled together unnaturally by colonial occupiers.

To reach a sustainable political resolution to the conflict the borders must be redrawn to reflect the natural groupings.

The ancestral Alawite homeland stretches from northern Lebanon to the Hatay Peninsula in Turkey, west of the Orontes River.

Northeast Syria is part of the natural Kurdish homeland, which is divided across four countries.

The Syrian, or Syro-Arabian Desert, is the northern part of the Arabian Peninsula, east of the Orontes River and west of the Euphrates, which has been inhabited historically by Bedouin tribes — part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group — and Damascus is located on an oasis in this desert.

And the northwest region of Syria, including Aleppo, historically has been a multicultural area that includes Druze, Christians, and Jews that given international protection could be safe, multicultural, and tolerant once again.

Leave Assad in office if that is what his people want — it should be for them to decide.

But redraw the borders at their natural locations — which moves the Alawite leadership out of the capital.

Story continues below…

 Elizabeth Barrett

(Elizabeth Barrett is a lawyer and expert in mediation based at the law school at the University of California, Berkeley, California.)

The Local (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available