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

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid