News / Middle East

Kerry Returns to Europe for Syria Talks

Kerry Returns to Europe for Syria Talksi
X
October 21, 2013 6:26 AM
A truck bomb explosion in Syria's fourth largest city of Hama killed more than 30 people Sunday, as the special envoy of the United Nations and Arab League held talks in Cairo on fixing a date for a long-delayed peace conference.
Kerry Returns to Europe for Syria Talks
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry returned to Europe for another round of talks with countries that are backing opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  They are trying to get political opponents to agree to talks on a transitional government in Geneva. 
 
"There has to be a transition government.  There has to be a new governing entity in Syria in order to permit the possibility of peace," said Kerry.
 
However, Assad's opponents have failed to come together behind Ahmad al-Jarba, who heads the main coalition group.
 
That is blocking any agreement on joining talks, thinks American University professor Akbar Ahmed.
 
"The Syrian opposition has unfortunately failed on two counts.  Number one, to organize all the various different groups that are fighting that are involved under one joint leadership.  Number two, failed to produce that charismatic leader who normally emerges in a situation like this so that people see an alternative," explained Ahmed.
 
Ahmed also pointed out that the growth of al-Qaida-affiliated militia further undermines the opposition, especially as some fighters are breaking away from the main rebel Free Syrian Army.
 
State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that split does not weaken efforts to hold Geneva peace talks.
 
"There are thousands of different groups, and these are - many who were on this list were field commanders, so we’re still looking into what the exact impact will be.  Clearly, the opposition participation in a Geneva conference is vital," said Psaki.
 
With more civilians fleeing fighting, there are also questions about how inclusive a transitional government would come from those Geneva talks.
 
"There is an agreement among the opposition that it would need to be a government of inclusion.  There's an understanding of trying to find ways to protect the minorities, including the Alawites.  In theory there is a very strong agreement.  Again, what will happen in practice?" wondered Manal Omar, an analyst at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
 
President Assad has long claimed that foreign terrorists are targeting his Alawite minority and trying to divide the country.  With Russia and Iran behind him, Ahmed said President Assad has agreed in principle to Geneva talks because he is in a strong position.
 
"He knows the opposition hasn't quite formed into the movement that he thought may topple him in the beginning of this process several years back.  So his strategy is wear it out, just sit it out," said Ahmed.
 
President Assad's staying power unsettles some of his younger opponents, who have watched the return of military power in Egypt said Omar.
 
"They're fighting. They're sacrificing and watching Egypt and watching pretty much some of the same individuals and institutions re-emerge two years later really kind of struck fear in terms of what is happening in Syria after two years, after an incredible death count," explained Omar.
 
The war's impact on civilians is also part of talks in Europe this week. As much of one quarter of Syria's population is internally displaced and more than two million are now refugees.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs