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UN Special Envoy: Saudi Arabia; Iran key to ending Syria war

Eg og Staffan de Mistura2

Brussels 8 September 2015. Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy on Syria says that talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran are a key to stop the war in Syria.

At an UNRIC press briefing in Brussels yesterday, de Mistura called for a regional conference on the model of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), which lead to the Helsinki accords in 1975.

“Let’s not hide behind it. If Saudi Arabia and Iran would finally start talking to each other and talking about something that could be a Helsinki type of arrangement... the conflict will last one more month - not one year not ten years. Because Oxygen will disappear from the conflict.”

De Mistura pointed out that Saudi Arabia and Iran have “substantial influence” in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Syria and said that talks between the two could contribute to ending the conflict provided the two countries were not alone at the table and had a “real discussion.”

Staffan 2“I’ve been 43 years with the UN, 19 conflicts, people start talking when there is lack of sponsorship for the actual conflict,” de Mistura said. “Oxygen taken away from the fire, the fire goes off.”

De Mistura, warned that the refugee crisis would only increase: “Look at the figures. I was just looking at possibilities of perhaps up to a million people moving from Syria if the Sunni community which is currently in Latakia would be getting concerned and moving. And Latakia is on the sea, so you can take boats directly.”

Referring to the photo of Aylan Kurdi the three year old boy who was found drowned on the coast of Turkey, de Mistura said: “And I think Aylan has been telling us this. There is no time anymore for long-term conferences and discussions, now is the time to really look in the eyes of those who are telling us “we have no more hope, we have no more patience.”

The Special Envoy welcomed discussions on Syria between the US and Russia, “which is a good sign, but they have not yet come up with a concrete outcome on the main issue of what is going to be the future of the governance of Syria.”
He added: “But I am the first one to tell you that I Aylan’s message to me also was that we have no time for this. There is no more time for long political processes, there is a need to create concrete hope for the people in Syria.”

Europe, he said, was not involved in the conflict but could contribute by establishing a “common understanding on how to receiving refugees with dignity” and by trying to filling the gap of funding, not least since only 31% of the funds promised to community to the UN agencies for the refugees in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, had been delivered.

“If we fill up the gap, at least there will be a feeling for those who are deciding to stay in the refugee camps that things are not going to be much worse than last year, while they will still be feeling that the lack of hope may push them to actually move.”

De Mistura, who was appointed UN Special Envoy for Syria in July 2014, has previously served as the UN Secretary-General´s Special Representative in Iraq (2007-2009) and Afghanistan (2010-2011) and held posts in numerous conflict zones. He was in Brussels for discussions with senior EU officials.

Photos:UNRIC/ Michael Durickas and Annika Bohnenblust

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