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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid