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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid