Lakhdar Brahimi’s Will Succeed if the Security Council Lets Him

Lakhdar Brahimi will brief the Security Council on Monday about his recent trip to Syria and the region. The timing is significant. All eyes will be on the UN next week as world leaders descend on New York for the UN Summit, and all eyes at the UN will be on Lakdhar Brahimi who has the impossible task of trying to mediate a solution to the Syrian civil war.

So what does Mr. Brahimi expect? From Al Jazeera.

Arraf: Before you took the job you said you would need the support of the Security Council. Do you believe you have the support you need?

Brahimi: I have the support of every member of the Security Council separately. It would be good to have it collectively – I think it will happen – they are inviting me to address them next week and this is one of the things we are going to discuss you see. I am nothing if I’m not their man so if they want me to be their man they will have to support me clearly and openly.

I hope he’s correct. The problem to date is that first Kofi Annan and now Brahimi have only had the rhetorical support from Russia. Russia said it supported the Annan plan, but when push came to shove it was never willing to exert its influence in Damascus to force Assad’s compliance with a ceasefire.  On the other side of the equation, Annan and Brahimi have both emphatically said that arms transfers, even to the Syrian rebels, needs to stop. Neither those plying rebel factions with arms; nor those sending guns to Damascus have heeded his call.

In the end, his role as joint special envoy will only be as successful as the Security Council wants it to be. If they really wanted to back his efforts, they would threaten sanctions or an ICC referrals to try to compel the parties to a political settlement. Alas, those means of diplomatic coercion still seem to be far off the table.

For more about Brahimi’s job and the UN’s role in the Syria crisis, please tune into HuffPostLive at 11 am eastern where I’ll be participating in a panel discussion on the topic.