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Brahimi fears Somalia fate for Syria

BEIRUT: The international envoy for Syria fears the country could turn into a new Somalia unless its crisis is resolved, warning of a scenario in which warlords and militia fill a void left by a collapsed state.
In an interview with the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi played down the risk of sectarian and ethnic partition of Syria, but said: “What I am afraid of is worse ... the collapse of the state and that Syria turns into a new Somalia.”
“People are talking about the risk of partition in Syria. I do not see partition,” said Brahimi.
“I believe that if this issue is not dealt with correctly, the danger is ‘Somalization’ and not partition: The collapse of the state and the emergence of warlords, militias and fighting groups.”
Asked how long the conflict could go on, Brahimi said: “Everyone must face a bitter, difficult and scary truth: That this type of crisis — if not dealt with correctly day by day — can go on for a year, two years and more.”
Meanwhile, gunmen shot and killed the brother of Syria’s Parliament speaker as he drove to work in the capital Damascus yesterday.
The SANA news agency said Mohammed Osama Laham, brother of Parliament Speaker Jihad Laham, was killed in the Damascus neighborhood of Midan.
Yesterday, activists and state media reported clashes, shelling and air raids in different parts of Syria.
The opposition Syrian National Council, meeting in Qatar to broaden its membership, said yesterday the “cornerstone” umbrella group should preserve its leading role in any revamp.
SNC chief Abdel Basset Sayda also denounced the failure of the international community to act to end “massacres” being committed by Assad forces.
Sayda said the SNC would take part in a broad opposition meeting tomorrow called by host Qatar and the Arab League, but insisted on a leading role for the council.
“We will attend the meeting with an open heart and mind. But we would like to stress from the start the need to keep the SNC as the cornerstone of the Syrian opposition,” said the SNC chairman.
“We think that any attempt to target the SNC, whether intentionally or not, will prolong the crisis,” he added.
But the former head of the SNC, Burhan Ghalioun, feared that Thursday’s meeting was aimed to abolish the council which seems to have fallen from grace in Washington. “The council rejects taking part in a framework that aims to kill it off,” Ghalioun said.
A spokesman for Hamas said the government has sealed its offices in Damascus, finalizing the break between the group and its former patron. Spokesman Ayman Taha said that the move had been expected after Hamas openly switched sides to support the rebellion.
Syrian rebels under increasing attack from regime warplanes have obtained 50 Stinger shoulder-launched missiles, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Amman yesterday after talks with a top dissident.
Lavrov also stressed after his meeting with Syria’s defected former prime minister Riad Hijab that he planned to work with opposition groups to help end the conflict.

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