News

    Syria Offers to Mediate With Iran

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is proposing to mediate between the West and Iran, telling an Italian newspaper that he's prepared to act as a go-between to improve relations that have been further strained over Iran's nuclear program.

    President Assad's offer to mediate is a diplomatic initiative that could further help in Syria's own rapprochement with the U.S. and Europe.

    He told the Italian daily La Repubblica that he was "ready to serve as a mediator with Iran," if western nations came up with a "concrete proposal" to submit to Tehran.

    French President Nicholas Sarkozy urged Mr. Assad, during a conference in France last July, to use his influence to help resolve Iran's nuclear standoff with the West.

    President Assad noted that dialogue was the best means to end long-standing disputes with Tehran, arguing that any attempt to contain a country ends by strengthening it.

    Hilal Kashan, Professor of Politics at the American University of Beirut, thinks it is unlikely the United States will take Mr. Assad up on his offer.

    "I think that the Americans want to improve their relations with Syria to weaken Iran and to further isolate it in the region, so I don't think the Americans need Syria as a mediator with Iran, because that would improve relations between Tehran and Damascus," said Kashan. "The Americans want to distance Damascus from Tehran,  plus, the Syrians are lacking in credibility to be used as mediators. [President] Assad would be more than eager to play the role of a mediator between the U.S. and anybody. You know he's willing to do anything to win the new administration's support, to listen to him and accommodate him."

    President Assad praised U.S. President Barack Obama in his interview with La Repubblica, saying that "he has shown himself to be a man of his word….with the withdrawal from Iraq, the willingness for peace [and] the closure of Guantanamo."

    Professor Fouad Ajami, who directs the Middle East Studies program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, thinks President Assad is well placed to act as mediator with Iran.

    "We know this in the court system as plea bargaining," said Ajami. "When you consider the situation of Bashar al-Assad, he himself is hunted down by a tribunal, now sitting in the Hague, investigating the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The Syrians straddle the fence between the order of conservative nations on the one hand and this alliance with Iran on the other and it would make perfect sense for Bashar al-Assad to pose as the mediator with the Iranians, which means: hey, if you folks think I'm bad, think of the Iranians, they're much worse, but I have credit in their bank and I can deal with the Iranians."

    Syria has been allied with Tehran since the outset of the war between Iran and Iraq in 1980. Its ties with moderate Arab states Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been strained since the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. Syria has denied involvement.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.