News / Middle East

    Assad Focuses on Fighting Terrorism, Not Power-Sharing, at Talks

    Assad Focuses on Fighting Terrorism, Not Power-Sharing, at Switzerland Talksi
    X
    January 21, 2014 9:05 PM
    Syrian peace talks are scheduled to start Wednesday in Switzerland, nearly three years after the start of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports.
    Syrian peace talks are scheduled to start Wednesday in Switzerland, nearly three years after the start of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. The government in Damascus is rejecting calls that it share power, saying these talks should be about fighting terrorism.

    Assad says continuing violence within the opposition, including extremist fighters linked to al-Qaida, shows why talks should focus on fighting terrorism.

    He told Syrian state television that negotiations also should restrain countries that he says support terrorists.

    ''The Geneva conference must lead to clear results regarding the fight against terrorism in Syria. More specifically, putting pressure on the countries supporting terrorism in Syria by sending fighters, sending money to terrorists organizations, sending weapons," said Assad.

    But the Western governments backing Assad's opponents say these talks are meant to end the fighting by creating a transitional government to replace him.

    Countries invited to Geneva talks on SyriaCountries invited to Geneva talks on Syria
    x
    Countries invited to Geneva talks on Syria
    Countries invited to Geneva talks on Syria
    By keeping the terrorism issue ahead of political power-sharing, Assad is seeking a broader context for the conflict, said American University professor Hillary Mann Leverett.

    "It is the center of gravity for all of the dynamics in the Middle East. Bashar al-Assad, the current president, and his father have made the most of that. And if they are welcome to the table in Geneva, they will come and they will turn it and use it to again make Syria central, central in whatever the major dynamic push is. And right now for Americans that's terrorism," she said.

    Especially as more American jihadists are reportedly taking part in the fight.

    "And now here the FBI and the CIA are very concerned about those Americans returning to the United States battle-hardened and trained by terrorists. That's something the Assad government will make a lot of," she said.

    But the battle within the opposition, involving groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] may unite more moderate rebels, said U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann.

    "There was enormous disdain and unhappiness about how the ISIS battalions were operating in Syria. They were seen as a growing threat to the objectives of the revolution. They were seen as a threat to the coherence and the security of the armed opposition itself. And so the armed opposition is now united against them," he said.

    This may also help a divided political opposition that Leverett said is undercut by Assad's populist appeal to defending Syria against foreign terrorists.

    "You have an opposition there that is not able to cohere because of differences among it. And it's really radical. It has been from the beginning. Assad is very adept at going through that, presenting himself as not just a strong leader, but as the secular front, as a leader who can come through crises," said Leverett.

    These first talks are set to open with a meeting of foreign ministers before Syrian government and opposition delegates join United Nations and Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi.

    • Civilians gather after what they said was shelling by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Jazmati, Aleppo, Jan. 23, 2014.
    • Civilians carry belongings from rubble after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Jazmati, Aleppo, Jan. 23, 2014.
    • This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center shows Syrian residents and rescue workers carrying an injured man after an airstrike in Aleppo, Jan. 23, 2014.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter holds a dead bird as his comrades inspect the damage caused by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by government forces in Jabal al-Akrad, Latakia, Jan. 23, 2014.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters rest in front of a graffiti that reads 'Surely your Lord's assault is strict indeed' in the old city of Aleppo, Jan. 22, 2014.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters stand along a deserted street filled with garbage and rubble in the old city of Aleppo, Jan. 22, 2014.
    • Residents inspect a damaged site after what activists said was an air strike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Karam Al-Beik, Aleppo, Jan. 21, 2014.
    • Smoke rises from what activists said were explosive barrels thrown by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Jabal al-Akrad, Latakia, Jan. 20, 2014.
    • Men react as others rush at the site of a car bomb attack at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Syria and Turkey, in Idlib, Jan. 20, 2014.
    • Men transport a casualty after car bomb attacks at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Syria and Turkey, in Idlib, Jan. 20, 2014.

    You May Like

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
    January 22, 2014 4:39 AM
    Good Assad wants to fight terrorism so let him start by fighting himself and then his brother before Iran and Hezbolla.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    January 22, 2014 4:25 PM
    The true terrorist in Syria is bashar al assad. A disgrace to all mankind. He has not faced any murder charges yet for the 100,000 deaths he is entirely responsible for. He has destroyed millions of homes. He has plunged the country backwards 30yrs because the majority of Syria want him to face his war crimes. Assad should now be facing the International Criminal Court now. A reward for his capture should be implemented. It is time he faces responsibility for his murders and terrorist acts against the nation if Syria. Any other people guilty of murdering civilians should be captured afterwards. Lets get the biggest problem dealt with first. The country of Syria belongs to Syrians, not basgar al assad, he is a cold blooded killer using terrorist acts. Lets arrest him and have him explain. God bless the Syrian people , we know criminal bashar does not represent Syrians.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    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.
    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.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    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.