News / Middle East

Kerry Slams Syrian Efforts to Change Focus of Geneva Peace Talks

Kerry Slams Syrian Efforts to Change Focus of Geneva Peace Talksi
X
January 17, 2014 1:23 AM
Secretary of state is pushing back against efforts by Assad government to change focus of talks from forming a transitional government to fighting terrorism
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is urging opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to join peace talks planned for Switzerland next week. Kerry is pushing back against efforts by the Assad government to change the focus of those talks from forming a transitional government to fighting terrorism.

International efforts to stop the fighting in Syria focus on forming a broad transitional government.

But President Assad says he is sending delegates to next week's talks in Switzerland not to give up power but to fight terrorists, among whom he includes the armed opposition.

Secretary Kerry says that is an effort to "rewrite history" by undermining the peace process before it even begins.

"It is about establishing a process essential to the formation of a transitional governing body with full executive power established by mutual consent." said Kerry.

President Assad's move to shift that focus reflects the far stronger position he is in now than when this process began, says former U.S. ambassador Adam Ereli.

"He and his supporters had a reason to talk to people about how to end the violence. They're not on the ropes [losing] anymore. They're on the ascendancy. They're in control of most of the country," said Ereli. "What reason in the world do they have to talk about a transition?"

Fighting between the main rebel Free Syrian Army and more extremist militias affiliated with al-Qaida helps justify President Assad's push to focus on terrorism, says U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann.

"From the regime's perspective, the more they can change the terms of the negotiations, the better off they'll be. But the further they go in that direction, the less value there is for the opposition in even showing up," said Heydemann.

With the main opposition coalition due to vote Friday on whether to attend these talks, Kerry urged them not to miss the opportunity to form a new government where all members must be agreed to by both sides.

"Any figure that is deemed unacceptable by either side - whether President Assad or a member of the opposition - cannot be a part of the future," he said.

But President Assad's biggest supporters - Russia and Iran - do not accept the presumption of an end to Assad rule, says American University professor Hillary Mann Leverett.

"The Russians are completely against that interpretation. The Iranians, another critical player in this saga, are not going to sign onto that. It's really a formula for diplomatic failure," said Leverett.

As fighting in Syria continues, Kerry says the Geneva peace talks are the best opportunity for the opposition to achieve the goals of the Syrian people and their revolution.

You May Like

Arab League Delays Forming Joint Force

Delay grows out of one of original obstacles facing pan-Arab force, analysts say: 'They may agree on the principle, but they continue to argue about how to implement the project' More

Pakistan Demands Afghanistan Protect Its Kabul Mission, Staff

Officials in Islamabad say Afghan agents are harassing Pakistani embassy personnel, particularly those living outside of mission’s compound More

US Survey: Trump Lead Grows in Republican Presidential Contest

Quinnipiac University poll shows brash billionaire real estate mogul with 28 percent support among Republican voters More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs