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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs