News / Middle East

Clinton Blasts Syria Arms Transfers to Hezbollah

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Thursday said Syria's transfer of missiles and other weapons to Lebanon's Hezbollah militia poses grave dangers to the Middle East. She shared a stage in Washington with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak who said Israel would hold the Lebanese government responsible for any new flare-up of fighting along their mutual border.

Clinton had harsh words for the Syrian government, which is reportedly stepping up its already considerable arms shipments to Hezbollah, which the United States considers a terrorist group.

But at the same time she defended the Obama administration's plan to send a full U.S. ambassador to Damascus for the first time in five years.

Addressing the American Jewish Committee in Washington, Clinton said Syrian transfers of weapons - especially longer-range missiles to Hezbollah - would pose a serious threat to Israel's security and also be profoundly destabilizing to the region.

She said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is making decisions that could mean war or peace for the region but suggested that this only underscores the need for the United States to upgrade its level of representation in the Syrian capital:

"We know he's hearing from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. It is crucial that he also hear directly from us, so that the potential consequences of his actions are clear. That's why we are sending an ambassador back to Syria," she said. "There should be no mistake either in Damascus or anywhere else. The United States is not re-engaging with Syria as a reward or a concession. Engagement is a tool that can give us added leverage and insight and a greater ability to convey strong and unmistakably clear messages aimed at Syria's leadership."

Recent news reports that Syria may be providing long-range Scud missiles to Hezbollah have triggered calls in the U.S. Congress for the Obama administration to shelve its nomination of veteran diplomat Robert Ford as envoy to Syria.

Earlier Thursday the State Department said the United States is concerned about the potential transfer by Syria of a number of weapons systems including Scuds.

Clinton shared the stage at the Washington event with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who said Hezbollah may now have as many as 45,000 rockets of various types, some of which could hit targets across most of Israel.

He said he thinks the pro-Iranian militia group is still well-deterred by Israeli military power but that Israel is carefully monitoring what he said are Syrian and Iranian attempts to upset the military balance.

Barak said if the situation flares into warfare as it did in 2006, Israel would not just blame Hezbollah:

"The main responsibility lies with the Lebanese government," he said. "We make it clear once and again that we see the government of Lebanon and behind it the government of Syria responsible for what happens now in Lebanon. And the government of Lebanon will be the one to be held accountable if it deteriorates."

Barak, a former Israeli prime minister, said the right-leaning coalition government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu sees a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a compelling imperative - not as a favor to the Palestinians but to preserve Israeli as a democratic, Jewish state.

Clinton for her part, while reaffirming the United States' unshakable bond with Israel, said Israel should support U.S. peace efforts by among other things stopping settlement activity and addressing humanitarian needs in Gaza.

She urged Arab states to join the United States and Europe in giving financial support to the moderate Palestinian government of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the West Bank, while demonstrating that they are ready to accept Israel as a permanent reality.

"As negotiations proceed between the Israelis and Palestinians and mutual confidence increases, Arab states should reach out to the Israeli public, demonstrating that Israel's isolation in the region is ending. And all states should resume multi-lateral discussions on critical regional issues," she said.

Renewing U.S. calls for the reopening of Israeli trade offices and interest sections in politically-moderate Arab states and other confidence-building steps, Clinton said all those in the region need concrete evidence of the benefits that peace would bring.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid