News / Middle East

'Friends of Syria' to Meet in Paris Sunday

'Friends of Syria' to Meet in Paris Sundayi
X
January 10, 2014 1:03 PM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets in Paris Sunday with foreign ministers of countries who back opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They are trying to bridge serious differences within the opposition ahead of Syrian peace talks planned for Geneva later this month. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns tells us how Syria's divisions are complicating efforts to come up with a transitional government to end the war.

Related video report by Scott Stearns

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets in Paris Sunday with foreign ministers of countries who back opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  They are trying to bridge serious differences within the opposition ahead of Syrian peace talks planned for Geneva later this month.  But Syrian divisions are complicating efforts to come up with a transitional government to end the war.
 
Iraqi forces fighting back against Al-Qaida-affiliated militia show how far Syria's internal divisions have spread.
 
Assad loyalists control the capital Damascus and ethnic-Alawite areas along the Mediterranean as well as parts of central Syria in their fight against largely-Sunni rebels there -- while continuing to battle Kurdish fighters in the north and Druze militia in the south. 
 
Cato Institute analyst Doug Bandow says if no transitional government emerges from this month's Geneva talks, Syria may end up a more-permanently divided nation, 
 
"I think one alternative, and it might be the best alternative is essentially the regime controls kind of a coastal area, a more Alawite area. And then there's a rebel area, and there's a Kurdish area. That might be the best you can get. Otherwise I think it's a fight to the finish," Bandow said.
 
Some of the fiercest fighting is within the opposition itself -- between the main rebel Free Syrian Army and more extremist militias, some of whom are affiliated with al-Qaida.  There are even divisions within those more extremist elements.  So much so that the head of the powerful al-Nusra Front is calling for a cease-fire with a group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.  But there is no keeping Syria together without strong central authority, says former U.S. ambassador Adam Ereli.
 
"Syria, I think the ethnic divisions are less along geographic lines with the exception largely of the Alawite and the Druze. But if you don't have responsible central government, those areas will split off," he said.
 
A Balkanized Syria may be less troubling than current trends toward a broader breakdown, says U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann, because the division of the former Yugoslavia remained largely within its international borders. 
 
"I think the expectation was we could see a similar outcome in Syria -- that we would experience a process of partition, of Balkanization but it would not produce a cascade of state collapse across the Arab Levant. Now, I don't think we can be so confident about that," Heydemann said.
 
Syrians themselves see the division of their country as an affront to national pride, says American University professor Akbar Ahmed. 
 
"They don't want their country broken up because there's still the desire, the nationalism, the romance of holding on to the larger and not breaking away to the smaller unless things become so bad that you can not hold on," he said.
 
Divisions within the political opposition weaken prospects for peace talks as foreign ministers work to get a broader, more representative opposition delegation to meet with Assad officials.
 
 

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
January 12, 2014 2:16 AM
All the more reason to arm the FSA to not only bring justice to bashar al assad for his terror campaign, to face a Syrian Judicial System, as well as protect Syrians from extremists with different motives in Syria. Assad has killed more innocent civilians than anyone.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid