News / Middle East

Syria Chemical Weapons Figure in Obama-Jordan Talks

Jordan's King Abdullah speaks during a joint news conference with U.S. President Barack Obama at Al-Hummar Palace in Amman, March 22, 2013. Jordan's King Abdullah speaks during a joint news conference with U.S. President Barack Obama at Al-Hummar Palace in Amman, March 22, 2013.
x
Jordan's King Abdullah speaks during a joint news conference with U.S. President Barack Obama at Al-Hummar Palace in Amman, March 22, 2013.
Jordan's King Abdullah speaks during a joint news conference with U.S. President Barack Obama at Al-Hummar Palace in Amman, March 22, 2013.
The U.S. revelation that chemical weapons likely have been used in Syria came on the eve of President Barack Obama's talks Friday with King Abdullah of Jordan. Syria is now likely to figure even higher in the Oval Office discussions.

King Abdullah's visit comes just over a month after he and President Barack Obama met in Amman during the president's Middle East trip.

Syria was high on the agenda at the time along with the burdens on Jordan of hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria.

In a joint news conference, King Abdullah expressed concerns about the impact of the Syrian conflict on the entire region.

"We are extremely concerned about the risks of prolonged sectarian conflict that if it continues as we are seeing leads to the fragmentation of Syria which obviously will have disastrous consequences on the region for generations to come," Abdullah said.

The revelation by the Obama administration that U.S. intelligence officials assess with "varying degrees of confidence" that chemical weapons have been used in Syria further elevates the issue for Friday's talks.

Last March in Amman, President Obama made clear any use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross a "red line" for him.

"The use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime would be a game changer from our perspective, because once you let that situation spin out of control, it is very hard to stop and can have enormous spillover effects across the region," Obama said.

Jordan is hosting training for opposition fighters seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, drawing warnings from the government in Damascus.

Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says Jordan is in a delicate position.

"Jordan certainly needs U.S. help in the financial area, it needs U.S. trainers.  It needs to prepare for the possibility that if Syria is confirmed as using chemical weapons or if there are more civilian casualties, it would be Jordan that would have to, along potentially with Turkey, be a critical source of basing and support, for any kind of outside intervention to try to bring an end to the civil war," Cordesman said.

Cordesman says the role of Jordan, and Turkey, would be "critical" in the event of any decision by the United States and key partner nations to create any security zone inside Syria.

Jordan's security, he says, is directly related to the outcome of the Syrian civil war.

"The creation of a division between Sunni and Shi'ite that spills over to Iraq, another country on Jordan's border creates far more serious security problems for Jordan as does the rising role of volunteers and Islamist extremist groups, some of which are tied to al-Qaida, which has carried out attacks in Jordan in the past," Cordesman said.

On the eve of Friday's White House talks, Marius Deeb, lecturer on the Middle East with the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, painted this picture of the situation playing out on the ground in Syria.

"They have to think of the future, what is going to happen, when President Assad will leave Damascus.  There is no way that he could stay in power.  He cannot really re-establish his authority over Syrian territory," Deeb said.  

On chemical weapons in Syria, a White House official said the United States and partner countries will continue to assess evidence to establish a "clear, corroborative and credible basis" for decisions to come.

The official said the chaotic situation in Syria will not prevent the U.S., with the help of other countries and Syria's opposition, from establishing the facts.

You May Like

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization More

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