U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has hit an impasse in his efforts to promote a Syrian political transition that would ultimately lead to President Bashar al-Assad yielding power to a caretaker national unity government. But it hasn't stopped him from trying. In a closed door session of the Security Council this week, Brahimi introduced a six point plan to try to break the political impasse. He expressed hope that his plan could inform a Security Council peace initiative on Syria. "I think that public opinion the world over is now looking up to the Security Council to take a determined, strong lead," he told the council in a confidential briefing. A copy of Brahimi's remarks was posted this evening by Alhurra's U.N. reporter, Nabil Abi Saab. Here's Brahimi's six point plan:
1. Syria's independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity must be preserved.
2. A recognition that ultimate objective is for Syrians to have a full say in the way they are governed.
3. The formation of a transition government with "full executive powers." Brahimi says he believes that means President Bashar al Assad "would have no role in the transition."
4. Both sides would need to be represented by broad group of opposition leaders and strong military-civilian delegation from the Syrian government.
5. Negotiations should occur outside of Syria, and conform with a timetable setting out a speedy path towards elections, constitutional reform, and a referendum. He raised the prospect of moving from a presidential system of government to a parliamentarian system.
6. He urged the U.N. Security Council to unequivocally express support for the right of each citizen in Syria "to enjoy full equality before the law irrespective of gender, religion, language or ethnicity."
After presenting his plan to the Security Council on Tuesday, Brahimi met with the five permanent members of the council at a dinner hosted by Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, at her official residence at the Waldorf Astoria. Diplomats said that the council's big powers expressed support for Brahimi's efforts but were unable to endorse his plan. Vitaly Churkin, Russia's U.N. ambassador, made it clear that any political settlement would have to be negotiated with President Assad, not imposed by the Security Council. There are no immediate plans for the council's key powers to resume discussions on Brahimi's plan.
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Longtime Washington Post correspondent Colum Lynch reports on all things United Nations for Turtle Bay.