(DAMASCUS, Syria) — United Nations Special Envoy on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi is making another attempt at trying to end the bloody 21-month-long conflict that has roiled the Middle East by meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday.
Expectations aren’t high, as al-Assad has shown no signs that he’s willing to end the military crackdown that began in March 2011 against proponents of democratic reform.
Since then, the conflict has escalated into sectarian warfare that has pervaded all corners of Syria, with at least 40,000 dead and an estimated one million refugees predicted to leave the country by mid-2013. Reports of torture and other atrocities are occurring on both sides.
Even as al-Assad appears determined to win a military victory, virtually all international observers, including staunch Syrian ally Russia, agree that the only resolution will come through negotiations, which is the message Brahimi will be carrying to the Syrian president.
However, it might take Moscow to finally convince al-Assad to step down even as it refuses to offer him asylum.
Brahimi will soon be speaking with Russian leaders in hope of trying to push them toward convincing al-Assad that he must agree to a negotiated settlement for the good of Syria and the rest of the region.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chandrika Narayan and Steve Almasy, CNN
Dave Gilbert, CNN
Schams Elwazer, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Tim Hume, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com