News / Middle East

'Friends of Syria' to Meet in Paris Sunday

'Friends of Syria' to Meet in Paris Sundayi
X
January 10, 2014
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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

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

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.
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