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United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, right, speaks to members of the media with Lakhdar Brahimi, Annan's Special Adviser on Iraq by his side at U.N. headquarters in New York Thursday, Feb. 19, 2004 . Annan backed the U.S. position Thursday and recommended against holding elections in Iraq before the June 30 transfer of power to Iraqis. (AP Photo/Osamu Honda)

The decision of the secretary-general of the United Nations to appoint Lakhdar Brahimi, the former foreign minister of Algeria, to undertake the position of special envoy of the U.N. and the League of Arab States to Syria should be viewed with caution. This skepticism is not related to Brahimi's diplomatic skills but to the inability of the U.N. Security Council to agree on steps to end the human tragedy in Syria.

Brahimi led many missions on behalf of the organization before, but this is a different mission because there are differences among the permanent members of the Security Council, and the situation inside Syria is out of control.

As many analysts predicted, the failure of his predecessor, Kofi Annan, was related to his attempts to accommodate the interests of Russia and China as well as Iran, despite that they were more interested in maintaining the status quo in Syria rather than fulfilling the demands of the Syrian people for a democratic change.

The abuse of veto power three times in the Security Council by Russia and China made it difficult to proceed with a credible plan to solve the Syrian crisis.

In explaining his unwillingness to continue with his mission, Annan referred to these differences. However, he should be blamed for trying to allow the regime to escape from responsibility for the worsening situation in Syria.

Brahimi is asking now for an agreement between the members of the council to ensure the success of his mission. He made an unfortunate statement indicating that the departure of the Syrian president is not an immediate concern. However, the deputy prime minister of the Syrian regime is saying now that even this issue could be discussed.

The opposition forces believe that these statements are meant to buy time. Therefore, the Security Council should agree on a strategy including the modalities for transforming Syria into a democratic state and bringing to justice those responsible for death and destruction there.

The hindrance to the work of the council is due to fear in Russia and China that the Syrian case might constitute a precedent that will enable the international community to demand true democracy and transparency in both countries.

Russia also has special strategic interests in Syria. Since the Syrian regime is becoming weaker every day as a result of resistance by the Syrian people, it is hoped that both Russia and China realize their miscalculations.

Despite the escalation of violence as a result of the use military airplanes and helicopters as well as heavy weapons, the regime is losing control of the country.

The regime mistakenly thought that its so-called revolutionary credentials would make it immune from national and international accountability.

It is hoped that Russia and China as well as Iran are coming to the conclusion that the status quo cannot be maintained in Syria. That might help Brahimi in his mission because the regime can no longer depend on the same old maneuvers.

There are indications the Brahimi will face the regime and the opposition with the indications that many Syrians are leaving the country, which is facing the possibility of disintegration, if the conflict continues.

Therefore, an immediate end to the ongoing madness, which is leading to more death and destruction in Syria on all sides, must be achieved. The Security Council member states, particularly Russia and China, must act responsibly for Brahimi to deal with the Syrian crisis. Brahimi's future plan must ensure the transformation of Syria into a truly democratic state, which requires an immediate withdrawal of the Syrian army and its heavy weapons from Syrian cities, and the establishment of an interim government to oversee free and fair elections and the transformation of Syria into a democratic state.

It is hoped that once a serious and credible plan is proposed by Brahimi and endorsed by the Security Council providing a road map for the transformation of Syria into democratic government the violence will come to an end.

The plan should be strengthened by the threat of imposing sanctions, accompanied by strict demands to halt on the use of airplanes and helicopters as well as lethal weapons against peaceful protests.

It is expected that in such situation the opposition will reciprocate by ending the violence against the regime and its forces. It is essential that the Security Council reaffirm the commitment of the international community under humanitarian law to protect civilians against the brutalities of their governments.

The Syrian people are rejecting the continuation of the dictatorship and family rule, which brought untold suffering from the massacre of Hama several decades ago until today. The regime has lost its legitimacy after killing almost 20,000 of its citizens, destroying communities and committing the worst violations of human rights in its four decades of tyranny.

Amer Araim is an adjunct professor of political science at Diablo Valley College, a former U.N. senior political affairs officer, and member of the boards of the Interfaith Councils of Contra Costa County and the Interfaith Council in the Presidio. He is a resident of Walnut Creek.