News / Middle East

Friends of Syria Push Opposition Toward Geneva Talks

Friends of Syria Pushing Opposition Toward Geneva Talksi
X
January 13, 2014
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry joined other foreign ministers backing opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Paris Sunday. They are trying to bring together disparate civilian and military components of the uprising ahead of planned peace talks later this month. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the French capital, Syria's government and its opponents remain divided over the purpose of those talks.
TEXT SIZE - +
— U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry joined other foreign ministers backing opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Paris Sunday.  They are trying to bring together disparate civilian and military components of the uprising ahead of planned peace talks later this month. Syria's government and its opponents remain divided over the purpose of those talks.

Rival opponents of Assad battle for control of parts of Aleppo.  The main rebel coalition fights to reverse gains by extremist militias allied with al-Qaida.

In Paris, foreign ministers discussed those developments as they worked to strengthen Syria's more moderate opposition ahead of peace talks planned in Geneva this month. 

"The international community must gather around a single conviction that there is no other solution for the Syrian tragedy than a political solution and there is no possibility to achieve one if the Geneva talks do not take place," said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

But Assad opponents have not committed to those talks because of differences about who truly represents the Syrian people, said U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann.

"The Syrian coalition feels quite insecure about whether it would participate in Geneva as the sole, legitimate representative of the Syrian people. There's concern that their participation could be compromised if groups outside of the coalition were invited to Geneva in the name of inclusion," he said.

And that's putting pressure on the so-called Friends of Syria -- mostly Western and Gulf Arab governments that back Syria's opposition.

"If the core Friends of Syria group can not bring to Geneva a broad enough cross section of the opposition to make those negotiations credible, then the outcome is never going to be accepted, never going to be taken as legitimate by groups on the ground, particularly armed groups," said Heydemann.

The head of Syria's main civilian opposition, Ahmad al-Jarba,  met with foreign ministers in Paris Sunday and said Syrians were united behind removing their president.

"The most important aspect of today's meeting is that we all agree to say that Assad has no future in Syria," he said.

But President Assad said he's not stepping down, and that these talks would be about fighting terrorists, among whom he includes the armed opposition. Assad was in a far stronger position than he was a year ago, said former U.S. ambassador Adam Ereli, and that made the talks even more difficult.

"If I'm sitting in Damascus in the presidential palace, I'll say: 'What transition? What the heck are you talking about? I'm not going anywhere, and who's going to make me?'," he said.

Beyond the question of Syria's opposition, there's also the issue of whether and how Iran might join the talks in Geneva. That's the focal point of talks here between Secretary Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid