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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.