World News

    Free Syrian Army Appoints New Commander

    The rebel Free Syrian Army has appointed a new commander, after months of losing ground to both government forces and Islamist fighters.

    The Western-backed, moderate forces cited the ineffectiveness of Salim Idris, and said he has been replaced by Abdul-Ilah al-Bashir.

    The office of Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad Jarba praised the move in a statement Monday, and reiterated the opposition group's determination to go up against government troops and al-Qaida-linked militants.

    Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the Syrian government is trying to win a military victory over the opposition, and that Russia is enabling President Bashar al-Assad on that path.

    Kerry said Monday in Jakarta that Syria's strategy is evident in its continuing barrel bombing of civilians, and that Russia's deliveries of arms and aid are helping Mr. Assad's pursuit of a military solution over a political end to the civil war.



    "It is very clear that Bashar al-Assad is continuing to try to win this in the battlefield rather than to come to the negotiating table in good faith."



    Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution agreed with Kerry's assessment during an interview with al-Hurra on Monday.



    "Assad sees no need to compromise. And his sponsors -- Russia, Iran, Hezbollah -- are playing very seriously in this game. Whereas the supporters of the opposition are playing with one hand tied behind their back. "





    VOA correspondent Scott Stearns, who is traveling with Kerry, said the secretary wants the international community to use a break in the talks to figure out how best to pursue a political solution.



    "He said the United States still believes that there is no military solution to the war in Syria, but it's his opinion that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is pursuing just that, a military solution, a military solution in the opinion of the United States that's aided by Iran, Hezbollah and Russia. He said Russia needs to stop being part of the problem and play a more active role in being a part of the political solution."



    Russia has been both an ally of Mr. Assad and, along with the United States, a lead player in bringing the Syrian sides together for the peace talks. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his government is working with Syrian officials daily, and that more of Syria's problems are being caused by terrorists and extremists.

    On Sunday, Kerry said in a statement that all parties involved in the peace talks knew they would be difficult, but that "obstruction" by the Assad government is making the process even harder. He also praised Syrian opposition groups, saying they have presented a "viable and well-reasoned roadmap" for a transitional government in Syria.

    Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem cast blame at the United States, saying it worked to create a negative climate at the negotiations in Geneva.

    O'Hanlon stopped short of blaming the U.S., but said the attitude had to change in the West.



    "Until Washington and other capitals get more serious about helping the opposition, there is no realistic hope for peace."



    The second round of peace talks ended Saturday with no agreement. A third round of negotiations has not been scheduled.

    Also Sunday, the United Nations said it was not able distribute food aid for a ninth consecutive day at the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, which is home to thousands of Palestinians who have been there since before the Syrian civil war began.

    A U.N. spokesman called on authorities and all parties to allow food, medicine and other humanitarian aid to be distributed, saying it is "a matter of the greatest urgency."

    Kerry is traveling Monday to Abu Dhabi, where the Syrian crisis will be part of his meetings with officials.



    "As you know, the Gulf states have largely pushed for a more active military presence in support of the opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. There's been some disagreement among some Gulf allies of the United States who feel that Washington has not done enough militarily to actively support the Syrian opposition."



    The secretary's talks in Abu Dhabi will also include the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Iran's nuclear program.

    ####

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora