The international community is treading water on the Syria question. With the United Nations debate about to begin in New York, new ideas are conspicuously absent.
Lakhdar Brahimi faces huge expectations. The new United Nations special envoy has been tasked with getting Syria's stalled peace process going again. But he needs more time.
"I don't have a full plan yet," he said after informal consultations with the UN Security Council in New York. But he used dramatic words to describe his impressions of the troubled region after his recent journey there. "All I can tell you is that the situation is indeed extremely difficult. There is a stalemate. There is no prospect today or tomorrow to move forward," he said on Monday.
Building on Annan's plan
So with the UN general debate about to start on Tuesday (25.09.2012), it remains unclear what a diplomatic solution could look like. The six-point plan drawn up by Brahimi's predecessor Kofi Annan is still being used as the basis, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle underlined in New York. Brahimi described the six points as "part of my considerations."
The central planks of Annan's plan were a ceasefire followed by dialogue between the Syrian government and opposition under the auspices of the UN. A frustrated Annan gave up his attempts at mediation in August, and blamed the Security Council for not providing enough support. Three drafts of resolutions that would have increased pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad have now been dismissed by the council, vetoed by China and Russia.
It's an extremely difficult starting point for Brahimi. "If he wants to succeed, he needs the clear and unambiguous support of the international community and above all the Security Council," said Westerwelle.
Germanyholds the chair of the Security Council in September, and Westerwelle has already called on this most powerful of UN bodies to overcome its blockade. "We must not quit," he said. "If we quit, we are giving up on the people of Syria." But he is not expecting a breakthrough yet.