News / Middle East

    Backers of Syria's Assad Defiant, Say He Will Prevail

    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, center, chats with military personnel during visit to military site in Daraya,Aug. 1, 2013, SANA handout photo.
    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, center, chats with military personnel during visit to military site in Daraya,Aug. 1, 2013, SANA handout photo.
    Elizabeth Arrott
    Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad say they are confident his government can withstand any strike by the United States, while rejecting the U.S. case that Assad used chemical weapons against fellow Syrians.

    Residents of Damascus are bracing for what some believe could be a U.S. missile strike any hour.  

    But Nahla Essa, a deputy dean at Damascus University, says many are taking the threat in stride.

    Speaking by phone from the capital, she says some people are stocking up on food, in case an attack keeps them from going out for several days. But she expresses confidence in the Syrian military, as well as state and civil institutions, saying they are all in a state of full readiness.

    It is never easy talking to people in Damascus, where most are well aware of the consequences of speaking out against the government. And while there are tentative signs that fear of reprisals may be decreasing, it is a rare few willing to speak on the record.

    But two-and-a-half years into an increasingly sectarian war in which some of the leading opponents are linked to al-Qaida, there remain people loyal to the government — and opposed to the United States.

    "We are ready to defend our country," said Bassam Abu Abdullah, director of the Damascus Center for Strategic Studies. "We know that [U.S. Secretary of State] Mr. John Kerry [showed on Friday] he has nothing about chemical weapons, and they want to convince all the world that the Syrian government used these chemical weapon. It's absolutely not right and they have disinformed the public opinion. As it was in 2003."

    2003 is a reference to the Iraq War, and the faulty intelligence used by the United States as an argument for invasion.

    But for Essa, the intelligence being presented is only part of the problem. She says what America calls a humanitarian intervention is regarded by Syria as un-humanitarian and unethical. She says it has no justification — only highlighted by what she calls the U.S. government's circumstantial case.

    Analyst Abu Abdullah expresses some sympathy for President Barack Obama, arguing that he has been pressured by various groups, including, he alleges, Syrian enemy Israel, into his current position.

    “The situation is difficult because President Obama, he said that we will finish the era of wars. And he's against war but now again he started a war. There is lobbying against him,” he said.

    And while he believes the U.S. will keep itself to a limited strike, he warns the situation could spiral out of control, and “the era of war” could return.

    “America I think should remember Iraq, should remember Afghanistan, should remember Vietnam," he said. "And here in Syria it is more difficult for them because Syria is not alone. We have our allies."

    He points to Syrian allies Hezbollah, in Lebanon, as well as Iran and Russia, adding “America will see many surprises.”

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    September 01, 2013 1:51 AM
    you shouldn't believe everything you see on the TV
    the government did not need to use any sort of chemical weapon, they were already the higher hand in the war. Why do you think that Assad is so stupid to give U.S the one and only reason for intervention? Why didn't he use chemical weapons when he was most desperate earlier in the game?
    Just think a little. later on you will surely say that the obama administration has fooled us and son on. and history repeats itself!!

    by: Anonymous
    August 31, 2013 10:44 PM
    The International Criminal Court has to continue to go after assad at any cost. Regardless of what China or Russia says, a criminal is a criminal regardless of what any other people say. Facts are facts and crimes are crimes. Interpol should have a warrant for his arrest.

    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