Former UN Syria envoy slams major powers for ignoring early threat of IS

Ahram Online, Wednesday 15 Oct 2014

Lakhdar Brahimi accuses world powers of ignoring his early warnings over the danger of the militant Islamic State group

United Nations Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi talks to the media after briefing a United Nations Security Council meeting on Syria at U.N. headquarters in New York, March 13, 2014. (Photo:Reuters)

Lakhdar Brahimi, the former UN and Arab League special envoy to Syria, has lashed out at world powers for "ignoring" warnings he voiced early on the militant Islamic State (IS) group.

In a TV interview, Brahimi said he warned the UN Security Council last April of the threat posed by IS in Iraq, but that his warnings “had gone unheeded.”

Brahimi resigned his position in May this year. One month later, IS militants seized large parts of territories in Syria and Iraq.

Talking to the BBC, Brahimi, a former Algerian diplomat, also criticised Western countries for not talking to Iran over fighting IS in Iraq.

Brahimi stated that Iran “needs to be part of any political and military initiative to stop the advance of IS militants in Iraq and Syria.”

Brahimi advised the Americans that they must talk to the Iranians, “to tell them you are partially responsible for what is happening in Iraq.”

“Iran had more influence in Iraq than the Americans," Brahimi said, adding that a "regional solution to the problems of Iraq and Syria" is needed.

Neither Iran nor Syria, which together share most of Iraq’s borders, was invited to join the US-led international coalition against IS.

In mid-September, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed his government had privately refused American requests for cooperation against IS, warning that another US incursion would result “in the same problems they faced in Iraq in the past 10 years."

The US responded that the two countries "are not and will not coordinate militarily."

Asked whether he believes there is any political solution to the current violence in the Middle East, Brahimi expressed his pessimism.

"There are plans of war in this part of the Middle East. There are no peace plans. As far as behaviour is concerned, I don't see anybody saying let's stop fighting. Let's stop. I don't see anybody saying that. The Americans and their allies are saying that they're going to arm people, train them and so on, and the Iranians and the Russians are supporting the [Bashar Al-Assad] government," he said.

The former UN envoy explained that IS “will ultimately be defeated." However, he warned that the international coalition’s airstrikes against militants in Syria and Iraq would not be enough to destroy the group.

US President Barack Obama has said the fight against IS extremists is only just beginning. 

Speaking after a meeting with military commanders from 22 countries, gathered in Washington to discuss the militants' advance, he said the campaign against IS “would be long-term, and was likely to include setbacks as well as progress.”

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