News

    UN's Annan Leaves Syria Empty-Handed

    UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan reads a statement after his meeting with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, March 11, 2012.
    UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan reads a statement after his meeting with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, March 11, 2012.

    U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has left Damascus without securing a deal to end Syria's nearly yearlong conflict. Meanwhile, President Bashar al-Assad's troops continued to pound opposition areas, clashing with rebels throughout the country.

    The former U.N. secretary-general said Sunday he left several proposals with Syrian officials and that he remains "optimistic" about the possibility of a resolution after a second round of talks with Mr. Assad. But he said ending the violence will be "tough."

    Annan said he called for an immediate halt to the killings and that he urged the Syrian government to "embrace change and reform" as part of a political solution to its deadly crackdown on an opposition uprising. He appealed to Mr. Assad to heed an old African proverb that says: "You cannot turn the wind, so turn the sail."

    Syrian state media said Mr. Assad told Annan that a political solution is impossible as long as "terrorist groups" threaten the country. Identical comments were reported after the two met Saturday.

    Syria's main exiled opposition group also rejected talks with the government. The Syrian National Council said negotiations can never take place between a "victim and torturer," and it demanded that Mr. Assad and his aides step down before a dialogue can begin.

    Annan flew to Qatar Sunday to meet that country's emir, a leading critic of the Syrian government who has called for arming the rebels.

    As their talks took place in Damascus, Syria's military continued an offensive on rebel strongholds in the north. Activists reported that several areas were attacked, including in and around Idlib, Hama and Homs, as well as Daraa in the south.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says fighting Sunday killed at least 25 civilians and five soldiers. Activists said at least 90 people were killed in nationwide unrest a day earlier, many of them in Idlib.

    Also Sunday, Syria's state news agency said gunmen killed local boxing champion Gheyath Tayfour in the northern city of Aleppo. Opposition fighters associated with the rebel Free Syrian Army have claimed responsibility for some of the assassinations that have become more frequent in the city, including those of prominent businessmen they say support Mr. Assad.

    Photo Gallery

    International rifts have paralyzed action on Syria. Russia and China blocked two U.N. Security Council resolutions on the Syrian crisis in recent months, saying they were biased against the Assad government.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in New York Monday when the Security Council holds a special meeting on Arab revolts, with Syria likely to be in focus. Washington is pressing the Council to adopt a resolution calling on Syria to let aid workers reach civilians affected by the government crackdown.

    The United Nations says Mr. Assad's forces have killed more than 7,500 people since the crackdown on protesters and insurgents began last year. Authorities say rebels have killed 2,000 soldiers during that time.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

    Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
    Middle East Voices
    . Follow our Middle East reports on
    Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Power
    March 13, 2012 3:10 AM
    Control of the Army enables absolute power over the civillian population. Old African proverbs are of little meaning or consequence
    and the loss of life is indicative of this. Reform is not on the agenda.

    by: Godwin
    March 12, 2012 1:31 AM
    What did he intend to achieve before? With the support of Russia, China and Iran, Assad is on top of the world. Living in the colony of vampires which the Middle East is, supported by the blood thirsty trio of Russia, China and Iran - all of which know no other way to suppress decent except by brutal force, Annan's trip was mission impossible. But the trio provide the world an alternative to true democracy - LETHAL DEMOCRACY based on survival of the fittest.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora