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Syrian Conflict Could Have Been Solved In 2012—Brahimi Tells Aljazeera English

By Al Jazeera English Network

Algerian Lakhdar Brahimi, former United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria, speaks exclusively to Al Jazeera English:

• Says that “there were no good guys in the Syrian tragedy” and puts “a lot of blame on the outside forces […] the governments, and others who were supporting one side or the other”

• Denounces outside powers who never “had the interest of the Syrian people as their first priority”

• Reveals that the Syrian conflict “could have been solved in 2012” if “everyone had a better understanding of what was happening in Syria”

• Claims that “the Russians had a much more realistic analysis of the situation than practically everybody else” and acknowledges that “everybody should have listened to the Russians a little bit more” because “they knew what the situation was”

• Says that as President of Syria, Assad must accept number one responsibility for bloodshed in his country

In an interview with Al Jazeera English’s current affairs show, UpFront, ahead of UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva, Algerian Lakhdar Brahimi, former United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria, criticised all parties involved in the Syrian conflict for not putting “the interest of the Syrian people as their first priority.”

“Everybody is to blame,” Brahimi told UpFront host Mehdi Hasan, referring to both the Muslim-majority world and the West.

He said that, as envoy, he had discovered “there were no good guys in the Syrian tragedy” and placed “a lot of blame on the outside forces, the governments, and others who were supporting one side or the other.”

Referring to recent news reports that Western governments ignored a Russian offer in 2012 to force Syrian President Bashar al Assad to step aside, Brahimi conceded that it may have been a missed opportunity and agreed that the conflict “could have been solved in 2012… There was a possibility if everyone really had a… better understanding of what was happening in Syria."

Brahimi argued that at the time Russia had “a much more realistic analysis of the situation than practically everybody else” on Syria. “Everyone should have listened to the Russians a little bit more than they did."

Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister who served as UN and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria between August 2012 and May 2014, said Syria “is probably not a failed state, but certainly not a functioning state.”

On the future role of Syria’s president, the former UN special envoy said that Assad would be part of the solution “but being part of the solution does not mean he’s going to govern for another 40 years.”

Brahimi also said Assad must accept his responsibility for the bloodshed in Syria. “The number one man must bear the number one responsibility for what has happened."

Watch and embed the full 10-minute interview:

UpFront broadcasts on Fridays at 19.30 GMT. For more information, visit http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/upfront/ or follow UpFront on Twitter @AJUpFront.