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Terrorism & Security

UN envoy: Without deal in Syria, think Somalia not Yugoslavia

The United Nations' envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi argued against hopes that the country could find stability by devolving into a set of smaller states. 

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Brahimi's comments came the day after what CNN said might be the bloodiest day in the uprising – on Dec. 29, at least 399 people were killed.

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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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According to Reuters, Mr. Lavrov pinned the blame for continuing violence on the opposition, even though the US, European countries, and most Arab states back the opposition's demand that Assad's removal from power come first. 

"When the opposition says only Assad's exit will allow it to begin a dialogue about the future of its own country, we think this is wrong, we think this is rather counterproductive," he said. "The costs of this precondition are more and more lives of Syrian citizens."

But the Syrian opposition's calculus has changed over the last couple months. A string of victories has made it optimistic abut winning the war in the end, and therefore less flexible in negotiations, according to Reuters.

Regime still has strength

But despite their recent success, "the government still has the bigger arsenal and a potent air force. It controls most of the densely populated southwest of Syria, the Mediterranean coast, most of the main north-south highway and military bases countrywide," Reuters notes. 

Russia appears to be making an effort to secure a meeting, agreeing to meet the opposition representative outside of Russia if he insists. Bloomberg reports that, according to RIA Novosti, the foreign ministry said talks could be held in Geneva or Cairo instead. 

Meanwhile, Brahimi is rapidly losing ground support in Syria, Reuters reports. 

The envoy's credibility with the rebels appears to have withered. In the rebel-held town of Kafranbel, demonstrators held up banners ridiculing Brahimi with English obscenities. 

"We do not agree at all with Brahimi's initiative. We do not agree with anything Brahimi says," the rebel chief in Aleppo province, Colonel Abdel-Jabbar Oqaidi, said on Friday.

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