News

International Community Mulls Next Options for Syrian Opposition

Free Syrian Army fighters train in a neighborhood of Damascus, Syria
Free Syrian Army fighters train in a neighborhood of Damascus, Syria
Dorian Jones

A meeting in Istanbul of more than 70 international delegates supporting the Syrian opposition was overshadowed by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's continuing efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis. But as  Annan's detente moves slowly, the so-called Friends of Syria may potentially play a larger role.

The second meeting of delegates mainly from Western nations and the Arab world in Istanbul on Sunday made few concrete decisions in support of the Syrian opposition. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said the priority was to support Annan in his bid to resolve the crisis.

"Any dissent in the international community undermines Kofi Annan and increases the risk of the country descending into the hell of a civil war," Bildt said.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to comply with Mr. Annan's six-point peace plan which calls for talks between the opposition and the Syrian government. But as the violence continues, the international community is skeptical.

Annan told the U.N. Security Council Monday that there has been no progress on getting the Syrian government to implement a cease-fire. He said the Syrian government has agreed to an April 10 deadline to put parts of the peace plan into motion.

In the final communiqué issued at the Friends of Syria meeting Sunday, a timeline was demanded for the Syrian government's compliance.

But Syria's allies Russia and China have blocked tough action against Damascus in the U.N. Security Council. Russia on Monday chided Western and Arab nations for setting "ultimatums and artificial deadlines" at the Istanbul meeting.

Bassma Kodmani, the spokesperson for the opposition Syrian National Council, says it is time for Russia to consider a new stance.

"This is the opportunity for Russia to show that it is changing its position. I really look forward to see that happen. If that was to drag on and not happen, and we don't see there is a prospect of a credible way out, I think the Friends of Syria coalition is the ones who have to consider options for coming to the rescue of the Syrian people," Kodmani said.

While achieving consensus on Syria is difficult, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe says compromises have to be made.

"France shares the view of the Turkish government. We wish that the Syrian National Council could be recognized as the legitimate representative body of the Syrian people. All the members of the groups are not on the same line. That's why we adopted a balanced wording in the communiqué," Juppe said.

Opposition groups to the Syrian government are splintered. Delegates at the Istanbul meeting, while recognizing the Syrian National Council as the leading opposition arm, pressed for greater unity among activists. Swedish Foreign Minister Bildt was at the meeting.

"We would like them to be as unified as possible. We understand that can take some time. I have underlined the necessity of the opposition to really gain the confidence of all sectors and all of the groups in Syria. They are not quite there yet," Bildt said.

Some analysts say a lack of opposition consensus is holding back international efforts to arm the opposition. Qatar and Saudi Arabia have voiced support for such a move, but so far have refrained despite calls by the Syrian National Council for weapons.

Funds are being provided by some Arab Gulf States to pay members of the rebel Free Syrian Army who are fighting Assad's regime.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan outlined a possible timetable for a greater role of the Friends of Syria if Annan's diplomacy falters.

He said that if Mr. Annan's efforts fail and the U.N. Security Council again does not act, then this will give the Syrian people a right to self-defense and that no one in the international community can stand in their way.

Ankara has said it is considering the creation of a buffer zone in Syria to provide humanitarian relief. But Turkish diplomatic sources say Ankara would not act unilaterally.

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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs