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Terrorism & Security

UN envoy tries to revive Syria peace plan

The plan from UN special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is unlikely to gain traction without more concessions to the Syrian opposition.

By Staff writer / December 27, 2012

Members of the Free Syrian Army prepare to launch a mortar bomb in Idlib December 26. The UN special envoy to Syria is hoping to revive peace talks in the war-torn country.

Abdalghne Karoof/Reuters

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Middle East Editor

Ariel Zirulnick is the Monitor's Middle East editor, overseeing regional coverage both for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She is also a contributor to the international desk's terrorism and security blog. 

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Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations special envoy to Syria, said today that he is in Damascus and Moscow this week to try to revive a peace plan for Syria that was shelved this summer. However, rebel gains on the ground make it unlikely that the plan will go anywhere without more concessions to the Syrian opposition.

Russia is standing by its red line – that the plan not push President Bashar al-Assad from power. Meanwhile, the opposition still wants to bar current members of the Syrian regime from participating in a transitional government; the current proposal doesn’t appear to contain any such provision, the Associated Press reports.

What has changed is the opposition's strength: In recent months, it has captured swaths of territory, acquired better weaponry, and organized itself into a true fighting force, all allowing it to pose a legitimate challenge to the Syrian Army. The progress makes it unlikely the opposition will accept a proposal that allows former regime officials to participate in a new government if it rejected such a plan previously, when it was considerably weaker.

Mr. Brahimi was vague about how the plan might be amended this time around. CNN reports that during an appearance on Syrian state-run television today, he said only that, "The Geneva communique had all that is needed for a road map to end the crisis in Syria within few months."

The shift in the opposition's fortunes has led to a corresponding shift in Russia's own position. While Russia, where Brahimi will be later this week, was previously a steadfast supporter of the Assad regime and refused to entertain any proposals for a post-Assad Syria, Moscow now seems "resigned" to the possibility, the AP says.

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