Brahimi intends to raise the issue of the plight of Syrian refugees in the refugee camps he has visited. He is also expected to meet with the foreign ministers and delegations of the countries that are capable of exerting influence on the conflicting parties in Syria. Brahimi does not conceal that the success of his mission will depend on undivided and lasting support from the UN, which, according to Sergei Demidenko, an expert of the Institute for Strategic Assessments and Analysis, will be extremely hard to achieve.
"He will receive assurances of support for his mission, but only in words. The analysis of the situation around Syria shows that there are two positions. The first is a declarative one stating that all the parties concerned are seeking a way to end the conflict in order to minimize casualties. The other is a semi-official stance of the Western and Arab countries arguing that the only way to restore stability is to overthrow the Bashar Assad regime, which casts a shade of doubt on the effectiveness of Brahimi’s mission."
Earlier, the French ambassador to Syria Eric Chevalier acknowledged that France was cooperating with the armed Syrian opposition and considering expanding military aid to opposition fighters from non-lethal to lethal weapons.
Simultaneously, France has renewed its push for isolating Iran from the Syrian settlement. The French Foreign Ministry made clear that Tehran could not be allowed to participate unless it stopped human rights violations in its own country and clarified all the details of its nuclear program. Director of the Institute for the Middle East Studies Yevgeny Satanovsky thinks that these demands are irrelevant.
"Loud statements have always been a distinguishing feature of the French policy. But they have nothing to do with reality. There is no resolving the Syrian crisis without Iran – a key regional player and Syria’s ally supplying it with arms, fuel and cash and providing military assistance. Attempts to impose conditions on Iran or press it to do anything about its nuclear program make no sense."
Meanwhile, the Iranian Foreign Ministry Ali Akbar Salehi is holding emergency consultations in Damascus over the results of Monday’s session in Cairo of the Islamic Quartet comprising Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Tehran came up with a proposal to send an observer mission of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to Syria to monitor fresh peacemaking efforts. A number of Arab and European countries have been skeptical about the initiative, given the situation surrounding Iran and the virtual collapse of the previous international mission in Syria.
But Iran has real influence over Damascus. And besides, if its proposal wins approval, it will enhance Tehran’s role as a major regional player. It’s unclear whether Damascus will accept the initiative.