News / Middle East

Kerry Sees No Transitional Role for Syria's Assad

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, speaks to Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh during a meeting at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Rome, May 9, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, speaks to Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh during a meeting at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Rome, May 9, 2013.
VOA News
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has toughened his stance on the fate of Syria's president, saying Bashar al-Assad cannot be part of a transitional government that would try to lead the country out of its civil war.

Kerry made the comment Thursday in Rome at a joint news conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

"The foreign minister will work with us, as they have, to try to bring all the parties to the table so that we can effect a transition government by mutual consent of both sides, which clearly means that, in our judgment, President Assad will not be a component of that transitional government,'' Kerry said.

The statement appears to clarify the U.S. position.

On Tuesday, Kerry said it is "impossible" for him as an "individual" to see President Assad governing Syria in the future, but he added that the Syrian president's fate is not for him to decide.

That comment came in a Moscow meeting with the foreign minister of Russia, which has insisted that only Syrians should determine the future of Assad, a longtime Russian ally.

In his Rome remarks on Thursday, Kerry also announced an additional $100 million in U.S. humanitarian aid for the Syrian people. He said the aid includes $43 million to help Jordan deal with the influx of more than half a million Syrian refugees from the two-year conflict.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Judeh said Amman appreciates the assistance. He said Syrian refugees constitute 10 percent of Jordan's population and warned the figure could rise to 40 percent by the middle of next year at the current rates of entry.

Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed this week to call an international conference later this month to press for peace talks between the Syrian government and rebels fighting to oust Assad.

The talks would be based on a June 2012 Geneva peace plan backed by major powers. It calls for the formation of a transitional government leading to elections, but does not specify Assad's political future.

U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said Thursday the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi has agreed to stay on in the post in response to the U.S.-Russian initiative. Brahimi previously had expressed doubts about whether his diplomacy would achieve results.

Eliasson said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon takes the U.S.-Russian announcement "very seriously" and will try to mobilize everyone to pursue a political rather than military solution in Syria.

The Syrian foreign ministry said it welcomes what it called the U.S.-Russian "rapprochement." It expressed confidence that Syrian ally Russia will maintain a "firm stance" against foreign interference in the internal affairs of any state.

But, Damascus said the credibility of U.S. support for a political solution depends on Washington working with its allies to stop "terrorism" - the term used by the Assad government to describe the rebellion.

Syria's main opposition coalition told VOA on Wednesday that any political solution to the civil war must begin with Assad and top security officials leaving power.

In an interview with VOA's Encounter program, Georgetown University security analyst Paul Pillar said Lavrov moved closer to the U.S. position by saying Russia is concerned about the Syrian people rather than any individual - an apparent reference to Assad.

"We are talking here about the prospect of a negotiated agreement in which Assad is not around as president. It would be a new political order in Syria, but one in which each of the confessional communities including the Alawites, including the Christians, as well as the majority Sunnis see themselves as having a role, and not simply having to fight to the death," said Pillar.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez says if a political solution is not possible, he wants the Obama administration to have congressional support for arming Syrian rebels.

In an interview with VOA's sister television network Alhurra, Menendez said he is working on Senate legislation that would give President Barack Obama permission to provide shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, or MANPADS, to "thoroughly vetted" opposition elements.  

"I think it may change the calculus of Russia and others if in fact the rebels can ultimately succeed in having military victories against Assad, and that would move us closer to an opportunity where a political solution can take place," Menendez said.

In an interview with Encounter, the head of the anti-Assad Syrian American Alliance Mahmoud Khattab said any supply of U.S. weapons to Syrian rebels also would send a message to the Syrian president.
 
"The only time he will be willing to negotiate (is) when he feels the military balance has changed on the ground," said Khattab. "And, that is why it is really important for the United States to take the steps and arm the rebels so that Bashar al-Assad will understand that President Obama is getting serious here."  

President Obama said Tuesday his "bottom line" for deciding how to hasten a resolution of Syria's civil war is whether any measure is in the best interests of U.S. security.

VOA's Encounter program and Margaret Besheer contributed to this report.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid