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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora