* Brahimi says situation in Syria "bad and getting worse"
* Reform not enough, change is needed now, Brahimi said
* First U.N. Security Council briefing by Brahimi
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 24 The international
mediator on Syria said on Monday he has "a few ideas" but not a
full plan on how to end the country's 18-month conflict, which
he described as "extremely bad and getting worse."
Lakhdar Brahimi offered that assessment after his first
briefing to the U.N. Security Council since replacing Kofi Annan
as the U.N.-Arab League mediator on Sept. 1. In his first month
on the job, Brahimi met with Syrian Pr e sident Bashar al-Assad in
Damascus and visited refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan.
"I do not have a full plan for the moment, but I have a few
ideas," the veteran Algerian diplomat said. "I have agreed with
the council I will come back here as soon as possible with more
ideas on how we move forward."
"The situation in Syria is extremely bad and getting worse.
It is a threat to the region and a threat to peace and security
in the world," he told reporters. "There is a stalemate ... but
I think we will find an opening in the not too distant future."
Brahimi declined to elaborate.
The United Nations says nearly 20,000 people have been
killed in the conflict. More than 250,000 Syrians have fled to
neighboring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, with more than
100,000 of those leaving in August alone.
Council diplomats, speaking on the condition of anonymity,
described Brahimi's assessment of the conflict as downbeat,
saying that despite government claims it was committed to
reform, Damascus was instead seeking to portray the uprising as
a foreign conspiracy and return to how things used to be.
"You cannot go back to the Syria of the past," Brahimi said.
"Reform is not enough anymore, what is needed is change."
One diplomat said that while Brahimi did not reveal much to
the council about his plans, he was "solid" in laying the bulk
of the blame for the conflict with Assad's government.
While decrying the violence, diplomats offered no new ideas
for how to solve it.
"The situation in Syria is grave. We need to do everything
we can to end the violence and the killing of so many innocent
people," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told
reporters. Germany is president of the council for September.
As Syria spirals deeper into civil war, the Security Council
has been paralyzed as Russia and China have blocked three
Western-backed resolutions that criticized Assad and threatened
Annan blamed the Security Council impasse for hampering his
six-month bid to broker peace and leading to his decision to
step down. Diplomats have tried to play down expectations for
Brahimi's mission and the former Algerian foreign minister has
described the task of brokering peace as "nearly impossible."
In a statement on Monday, the 15-member Security Council
expressed grave concern about the situation in Syria and offered
its full and strong support to Brahimi.
Diplomats said Brahimi made a plea to the Security Council
for strong unified support, saying there could be no progress
without it: "You all say you support me individually, why don't
you support me collectively? It shouldn't be very difficult."
Westerwelle said former U.N. Secretary-General Annan's
six-point plan for peace in Syria was still relevant.
The plan, which failed to take hold, calls for an end to
violence, a Syrian-led political process, access for aid, the
release of arbitrarily detained people, freedom of movement for
journalists and the freedom to protest peacefully.
Brahimi said it was one of the "elements in my toolbox."