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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More