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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid