News / Middle East

Annan Warns of Looming War in Syria

Kofi Annan, the U.N.-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria, speaks during a press conference after his meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, unseen, at the governmental palace in Beirut, Lebanon, June 1, 2012.
Kofi Annan, the U.N.-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria, speaks during a press conference after his meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, unseen, at the governmental palace in Beirut, Lebanon, June 1, 2012.
VOA News
Arab League leaders are trying to increase the pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while their envoy to Syria warned "the specter of all-out war" in Syria grows by the day.

Arab League members met Saturday in Doha for an emergency session with United Nations and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

Annan called on President Assad to take "bold and visible steps immediately" to implement his six-point cease-fire plan.  But the former U.N. secretary-general admitted recent atrocities show the conflict is quickly spiraling out of control.

"The massacres of children, women and men in al-Houla is a terrible crime.  Worst of all, it is one of many atrocities to have taken place," Ban Ki-moon said.

Annan also warned the crisis in Syria could spread. Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamid bin Jassim al-Thani echoed Annan's concerns, saying "no country is fortified enough to avoid the fallout from the deteriorating situation in Syria."  He promised the Arab League would work to make sure the Syrian people realize their aspirations.

US reaction

Also Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to discuss the situation in Syria.  A State Department official said Clinton's message to Lavrov was : "We have got to start working together to help the Syrians with Syria's political transition strategy.  U.S. and Russian officials should engage diplomatically to come up with ideas in Moscow, Washington, New York and whenever we need to."
 
The League is calling for the U.N. Security Council to replace the almost 300 monitors it has in Syria now with peacekeepers capable of preventing clashes. But already, the fighting has spread.

More violence

Clashes broke out late Friday across the Syrian border in the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli.  Lebanese officials said Saturday the fighting between pro-Assad and anti-Assad militiamen in the Bab al-Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen neighborhoods had killed at least nine people, including civilians, while injuring more than 30.

One fighter blamed the violence on Assad's supporters.

"They are targeting us because we are supporting the Syrian revolution and we want to defend our children," he said.

Violence also gripped Syria's Homs province for yet another day. Amateur video posted on the Internet showed what was described as shellfire slamming into buildings in Bab al-Sebaa.  Other video showed a bomb blast targeting Syrian soldiers who were escorting U.N. observers in Erbin.

Foreign intervention

Meanwhile, calls for foreign intervention are mounting.

From Qatar, the head of the largest Syrian exile opposition group called on Arab countries to intervene.  Syrian National Council leader Burhan Ghalioun said he would welcome Arab military action to stop attacks on pro-democracy activists and civilians.

Pressure is also increasing on the United States and other Western nations to act.

Middle East analyst Aaron David Miller of the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center tells VOA some sort of action may be inevitable.

"I just don't see how the United States is going to be able to continue to resist the pressures that have been mounting for some kind of military action," Miller said.

A former foreign-policy adviser to senior U.S. officials, Miller, says a lasting peace will be difficult even if outside forces do go into Syria.

"It's as bad and as complex an internal situation as the so-called Arab Spring, Arab Winter has yet produced," he noted.

Some analysts believe resolution of the Syrian crisis will require some sort of deal that allows President Bashar al-Assad to walk away with his freedom. However, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, speaking in Brussels, warned against what she described as expedient actions.

You May Like

Photogallery Kyiv: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
June 04, 2012 12:22 AM
Annan is just another pawn for the western countries. Lies, lies, and damn lies.


by: Chad from: United States
June 03, 2012 10:23 PM
Syrian internal conflict becoming international war on assad would play out as follow. Syrian army, Russian military,China (pro assad) Vs. U.N. and all its frienemies. Anyone who plays RISK can figure this one out....


by: chin from: dafim
June 03, 2012 10:17 PM
They should request Russia to put feet soldiers on the ground as observers and then really find out which way russia is tilting toward pro assad or pro freedom. I bet eight sheep the russians rap women and kill children right along with assad


by: riano baggy from: indonesia
June 03, 2012 5:11 AM
Syria founding father was crying to see his country now. He gave their lives with one dream /aspiration, the next leader can bring Peaceful,Prosperity and DEMOCRACY for Syrian people,without bloodshed.


by: Anonymous from: America
June 02, 2012 8:28 PM
These are the three options that must be explained to the Assad Regime. Option one, the Yemen option of Ali Saleh, run from Syria now (to Moscow or Tehran, your choice) and maybe be forgotten by the world. Option two, the Egypt option of Mubarak (if you are lucky), watch your Regime fall and end up in prison for life. Option three, the Libya option of Gadhafi, your Regime is brutally destroyed and end up being pulled from a sewer by an angry mob. You know how that ended. No matter how many babies and children you murder Assad, the Assad Regime is going to go this year whether Putin realizes this or not.


by: Garth Banks from: Falmouth
June 02, 2012 8:23 PM
Russia should offer to put a human shield between pro-Assad militia and the opposition, failing this the rebels should be supplied with arms to counteract the Russian supplies.


by: GF Bryant from: BC Canada
June 02, 2012 7:31 PM
Sure, I am positive that Assad is REALLY worried about Anna's comments.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Weeki
X
August 29, 2014 2:18 AM
The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid