News / Middle East

Multilateral Group Meets Friday to Help Assad Opponents

A militant with the Free Syrian Army walks in the northwestern city of Idlib, February 21, 2012.
A militant with the Free Syrian Army walks in the northwestern city of Idlib, February 21, 2012.

Foreign ministers from countries opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad plan to gather in Tunisia Friday to help organize greater international support for the uprising against him. This will be the first meeting of a group known as the "Friends of Syria."

With the city of Homs under shelling for a third week, international pressure has failed to stop the Syrian military assault on the opposition.

Foreign ministers meeting in Mexico this week say Russia and China are partly to blame because they are blocking meaningful action to end the violence.

"On Syria, there is great concern about the fact that the existing structures of the United Nations have not delivered an outcome mainly, that we have a Security Council resolution, albeit a moderate and mild one, which is still vetoed by two member states, two permanent member states of the Security Council," said Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says there are a range of options under consideration.

"We will strengthen our targeted sanctions, bring the international community together in condemnation of the actions of the Assad regime. We will increase our outreach to opposition both inside and outside of Syria," said Clinton said.

The meeting will refocus attention on the opposition to President Assad, which is divided. Arab leaders hope a unified opposition will emerge as a Syrian government-in-waiting, said Tunisian Prime Minister Hammadi Jebali.

"We seek to recognize a body which represents all the Syrian rebels and the opposition. If that is not possible, we will look for the group that is most representative."

The "Friends of Syria" meeting shows the Arab League and its allies will not allow themselves to be blocked by Russia and China, said Middle East analyst Steve Heydemann.

"What they have put in place is a framework for a coordinated, multilateral effort to reach out to the Syrian opposition to help build the capacity of the opposition and potentially to help provide support and equipment and training to the armed elements of the Syrian opposition, including the Free Syrian Army," said Heydemann.

According to the Chinese government, President Assad's supporters are trying to prevent a military escalation.

"We support plans to stop violence, protect Syrian civilians, provide humanitarian aid and prevent foreign interference. We hope the Syria issue can be resolved through political and peaceful talks with the Arab League," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei.

China and Russia join President Assad in calls for a constitutional referendum as part of reforms proposed by the Arab League. The United States says it is going to the Friends of Syria meeting, in part, because China and Russia blocked those Arab League reforms at the United Nations.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid