News / Middle East

    EU Urges More Pressure on Syria

    European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton talks with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the start of a European Union foreign ministers meeting at the EU Council in Brussels, December 10, 2012.
    European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton talks with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the start of a European Union foreign ministers meeting at the EU Council in Brussels, December 10, 2012.
    VOA News
    Several key European countries are trying to rally international support for Syria's newly formed opposition coalition.

    European Union foreign ministers met Monday with new Syrian opposition leader Mouaz al-Khatib in Brussels.

    Afterward, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said al-Khatib's coalition deserves more support.

    "It is the right timing to upgrade the political recognition of the Syrian National Coalition today. I think it is the best timing. We used the momentum we have at the moment on the ground and we think it will be an important measure to promote the process of erosion in the regime of Assad," said Westerwelle.

    • A Free Syrian Army fighter aims his weapon during heavy clashes with government forces in Aleppo, Syria, December 11, 2012.
    • Syrian residents carry their belongings after their homes were damaged due to fighting between Free Syrian Army fighters and government forces in Aleppo, Syria, December 11, 2012.
    • A woman and girl carry their belongings after their home was damaged in fighting between Free Syrian Army fighters and government forces in Aleppo, Syria, December 11, 2012.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters warm themselves by a fire in Aleppo's al-Amereya district, December 11, 2012.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters look for government forces during heavy clashes in Aleppo, Syria, December 11, 2012.
    • This image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network shows what was said to be heavy shelling by warplanes near Damascus, Syria, December 10, 2012.
    • People shop at a market near buildings damaged in heavy fighting between Free Syrian Army fighters and government forces in Aleppo, Syria, December 9, 2012.
    • People wait in line to buy bread at a bakery in Aleppo, Syria, December 9, 2012.
    • Men use a fire to boil water near their tent at a refugee camp near the Turkish border, in Azaz, Syria, December 9, 2012.
    • General view of a refugee camp near the Turkish border, in Azaz, Syria, December 9, 2012.

    Despite broad support for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, some European nations have been hesitant to fully embrace the newly formed opposition coalition.

    British Foreign Minister William Hague expressed hope that will soon change.

    "He [i.e., Syrian National Coalition leader Mouaz al-Khatib] has been able to give some very clear assurances about the inclusivity of the National Coalition -- about the inclusion of Kurdish people, of Christian people in Syria, about the determination to represent all the people of Syria.  Of course, the United Kingdom has already recognized them as the sole legitimate representatives of the Syrian people. I hope that him coming here today will encourage other European nations to do the same," said Hague.

    U.S. Assistance for Syria

    $200 million in humanitarian aid
    -Helps 4 million people in Syria and 460,000 Syrian refugees
    -Provides food, water, medical and relief supplies

    $50 million to assist unarmed opposition groups
    -Supports civil society groups and local councils
    -Supports independent media projects, training for citizen journalists
    -Facilitates linkages between elements to support democratic transition planning

    Source: State Department

    Many of the EU nations, along with the United States, will gather later this week in Morocco for a Friends of Syria meeting aimed at regime change.

    While Germany and Britain expressed optimism going forward, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton cautioned Syria needs a political solution to the violence between the Syrian regime and opponents bent on overthrowing it.  

    "It's important that there has to be a political process alongside everything else, you know you have to get from here to the position where you have an inclusive, chosen government in Syria that the people can all feel proud of. And that's really important so you do need a political process," said Ashton.

    Earlier Monday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called the situation in Syria "a stain on the world's conscience," adding "the international community has a moral duty to address it."

    Barroso made the comments in Oslo, Norway, at a ceremony awarding this year's Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union.  

    Russia on Monday repeated its objection to any outside interference in a Syrian transition process. A Russian Foreign Ministry statement called for an immediate end to the fighting in Syria, but cautioned any decisions about political reforms should be made by Syrians themselves.

    Moscow's position remains at odds with the United States, which has been calling for Assad to quit and begin a transition to a democratic government.

    Fighting between rebels and government forces has already claimed more than 40,000 lives, with no let-up in sight.

    Video posted on the Internet Monday claimed to show more government airstrikes in a town near Homs and explosions in Deir al-Zour.  Activists said government warplanes bombed the Damascus suburb of Daraya, while rebels and government forces clashed in other areas near the capital.

    There also are indications the rebels are continuing to gain ground.

    Video posted to the Internet showed what were claimed to be soldiers with the Free Syrian Army near the northern city of Aleppo riding down a road in a captured tank.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: yxq
    December 10, 2012 11:08 PM
    chaos

    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    December 10, 2012 10:41 PM
    A political process and transitional security processes/organizations, with adequate resources must be in place; followed by a constitution that gurantees the rights to all minority groups. Such gurantees must be enforced by the members of the UNSC, "with boots on the ground". A transition, under a state of a power/security vacuum would see terrible outcomes, given the very multi-tribal nature of Syria a fact clearly seen in the current alignment of the fighters. In addition, a power vacuum could fully embroil Lebanon, Jordan, and even Israel in a very unwelcome conflict. Ensuring protection for all minorities, may expediate thenecesary agreements/ orderly transition. Given the terrible murderous conflict in Syria, with the Assad forces armed to the hilt, and the opposition at a tremendous disadvantage (at least for the first 2 yrs of the conflict) tribalism is and will take its toll Neither Jordan, Lebanon, or Turkey will want to cope with more refugees.... The current Syrian forces, need to be garissoned and gurantees provided to ensure that the Iraq/Saddam force/arms dissipation outcome is not repeated in Syria. No question that the UNSC members must put in place a solid agreement, with full controls, well before Assad's regime ceases to exist. The time for such agreements is now; in my view time is almost out for the Assad regime.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora