News / Middle East

Syria Issue Likely to Come Up During Obama's Mideast Trip

Concerns About Syria Likely to Come Up During Obama's Mideast Tripi
X
March 13, 2013 8:22 PM
President Obama's trip to the Middle East is primarily about how to find a path to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. But the war in Syria, where Israel is increasingly concerned about Iran's involvement and the growing calls to arm the Syrian rebels, are issues likely to be discussed during Mr. Obama's trip. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.
President Obama's trip to the Middle East is primarily about how to find a path to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  But the war in Syria, where Israel is increasingly concerned about Iran's involvement and the growing calls to arm the Syrian rebels, are issues likely to be discussed during Obama's trip. 

With President Assad's forces still controlling Syrian air space, rebels want the United States to give them the weapons they say they need to finish the fight.

"When we are denied weapons, we don't have the capacity to defend our families and the killings will continue," said Salim Idrss of the Free Syrian Army.

But arming Assad opponents has its own risks, says U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann.

"There continues to be concern about the political risks involved if we should ever - even 20 years from now - read that the weapons provided by the United States played a role in an attack on Americans," he said.

Israel is also concerned about arming Syrian rebels.

Although Syria, under Bashar al-Assad, has been an ally of Iran and of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Israeli-Syrian border has been calm for years.

"There is concern in Israel, for example, that sending arms to the Syrian opposition will be equipping groups that could some day use them against Israel," said Heydemann. "There is concern that if the Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah axis is broken, Iran will feel more endangered, more threatened, and could in fact be more inclined to push its nuclear program more quickly toward a nuclear-weapons capability."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not believe U.S.-led sanctions will end Iran's nuclear threat. And Washington appears to have no leverage over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says Johns Hopkins University professor Ruth Wedgwood.

"Some of this may be Ahmadinejad trying to enhance his own national stature because he's not as well-liked as before within Iran.  But it's not a time when the US appears to have any influence," she said.

Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, says President Obama understands Israel's concerns.

"Israel's neighborhood, if you will, is undergoing a pretty severe transition, and there's crisis, and it's important for the people of Israel to understand that the American people stand with them in that time of crisis and that we're going to be there to protect them and work with them to ensure their security," he said.

As for arming the Syrian rebels, Secretary of State John Kerry has said the U.S. will provide direct assistance to the fighters, but no weapons.

Syrian rebels say the war will continue until its allies move to match the weapons President Assad is receiving from Iran and Russia.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid