News / Middle East

Leadership Questions Could Hamper Syria Peace Talks

Head of the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces Mouaz al-Khatib speaks during the group's meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, May 23, 2013.
Head of the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces Mouaz al-Khatib speaks during the group's meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, May 23, 2013.
Dorian Jones
Next month's Washington - Moscow talks to end the Syrian conflict appear in doubt.  The Syrian opposition, at a meeting in Istanbul, remains divided on electing new leadership and it is still unclear if the opposition will attend the talks. 

Western backers of the opposition are pushing for a broader and more diverse leadership.  But attempts to weaken the power of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood in the Syrian National Coalition have so far failed.  The outgoing chairman of the coalition, Moaz al-Khatib, made an appeal for unity.

"We say at the end, we must cooperate with our people, with Syrians, who are under very, very hard circumstances to save our country," he said.

The spokesman for the opposition coalition, Khaled Saleh, said progress was being made.

Source of disagreement

But the current deadlock over who should lead and speak for the opposition has put next month's talks in doubt.

Russia had announced Friday that, in principle, the Damascus government said it would attend the peace talks.

But with the Syrian opposition remaining leaderless, its participation is unclear.  A European diplomat, speaking on the sidelines of the current Istanbul meeting, said it would be unthinkable if the opposition did not attend, but acknowledged new opposition leadership needs to be installed.

Some opposition members have accused Western countries of interfering in the leadership process. The ongoing talks in Istanbul, which will continue Sunday and Monday, are expected to see further efforts to reach a compromise and make a final decision on whether to go ahead with next month's peace conference, which is aimed at ending the bloody civil war that has wracked Syria for more than two years.

Syria violence intensifies

But as the deliberations continue, the fighting in Syria continues to intensify.  Senior opposition Member George Sabra warned of the current escalation in combat.

Sabra says thousands of Iranian and Iranian-backed militia groups are entering Syria from Lebanon to fight for the Assad regime.  And he said the world remains silent.

Sabra called on rebel forces to unite and provide assistance to those forces currently under siege, including those in the town of Qusair on the Lebanese border.  Syrian activists say Saturday saw some of heaviest fighting as the regime seeks to take the strategic town.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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