The international peace envoy for Syria said the situation in the country was deteriorating sharply but a solution was still possible under the terms of a peace plan agreed in Geneva in June.
He said the state would collapse without a solution, reiterating warnings that the country could turn into "hell" and a new Somalia.
"I say that the solution must be this year: 2013, and, God willing, before the second anniversary of this crisis," Lakhdar Brahimi said at a news conference at the Arab League in Cairo, referring to the start of the uprising in March 2011.
"A solution is still possible but is getting more complicated every day," he added. "We have a proposal and I believe this proposal is adopted by the international community."
Brahimi is the joint U.N-Arab League envoy charged with trying to mediate an end to a conflict that has killed at least 44,000 people. "The situation in Syria is bad, very, very bad, and it is getting worse and the pace of deterioration is increasing," he said.
"People are talking about Syria being split into a number of small states ... this is not what will happen, what will happen is Somalisation: war lords," he said.
Somalia has been without effective central government since civil war broke out there in 1991.
Brahimi, referring to the Geneva plan, said: "There are sound foundations to build a peace process through which the Syrians themselves can end the war and fighting and to build the future."
The plan included a ceasefire, the formation of a government and steps towards elections, either for a new president, or a new parliament. But it left the fate of President Bashar al-Assad unclear although the Syrian opposition and foreign goverments who back them insist he must go.