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

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora