News / Middle East

Nations Supporting Syrian Opposition to Meet in Morocco

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (C) hosts a gathering of Friends of Syria group in New York, September 28, 2012.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (C) hosts a gathering of Friends of Syria group in New York, September 28, 2012.
Meredith Buel
High-level representatives from nations in the Friends of Syria group are to meet Wednesday in Morocco for the first time since the formation of a new Syrian opposition coalition.

More than 100 delegations are expected to attend the conference in Marrakesh with the goal of agreeing on a strategy for a political transition if the government in Damascus falls.

Analysts expect the United States and other countries will recognize the newly reorganized opposition coalition.

Andrew Tabler, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the meeting will galvanize the opposition.  

“And that will be a major political shot in the arm for the opposition, which at the moment is trying to organize in a better fashion and trying to better coordinate with the armed units within Syria that are fighting against the Assad regime,” he said.

U.S. Assistance for Syria

$200 million in humanitarian aid
-Helps 4 million people in Syria and 460,000 Syrian refugees
-Provides food, water, medical and relief supplies

$50 million to assist unarmed opposition groups
-Supports civil society groups and local councils
-Supports independent media projects, training for citizen journalists
-Facilitates linkages between elements to support democratic transition planning

Source: State Department
Rebels advancing

After 21 months of conflict, which has killed more than 40,000 people, Syrian rebels appear to be scoring significant gains against President Bashar al-Assad’s army.

Nations supporting the ouster of Assad now are racing to prevent military developments from overtaking efforts to create a political transition.

Tabler said that it's not clear who would assume power if Assad is ousted. “In my opinion, given the pace of events, it is likely to be those that are taking the shots against Assad that will be calling the shots once he is gone," he said.

"Will they work with or cede power to civilians who are now operating in exile and will be meeting in Marrakesh or will they continue to fight on the ground?" he asked. "Will groups fight each other and will Syria be plunged into warlordism? We just don’t know.”

  • A Free Syrian Army fighter aims his weapon during heavy clashes with government forces in Aleppo, Syria, December 11, 2012.
  • Syrian residents carry their belongings after their homes were damaged due to fighting between Free Syrian Army fighters and government forces in Aleppo, Syria, December 11, 2012.
  • A woman and girl carry their belongings after their home was damaged in fighting between Free Syrian Army fighters and government forces in Aleppo, Syria, December 11, 2012.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters warm themselves by a fire in Aleppo's al-Amereya district, December 11, 2012.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters look for government forces during heavy clashes in Aleppo, Syria, December 11, 2012.
  • This image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network shows what was said to be heavy shelling by warplanes near Damascus, Syria, December 10, 2012.
  • People shop at a market near buildings damaged in heavy fighting between Free Syrian Army fighters and government forces in Aleppo, Syria, December 9, 2012.
  • People wait in line to buy bread at a bakery in Aleppo, Syria, December 9, 2012.
  • Men use a fire to boil water near their tent at a refugee camp near the Turkish border, in Azaz, Syria, December 9, 2012.
  • General view of a refugee camp near the Turkish border, in Azaz, Syria, December 9, 2012.

Concerns over Islamist fighters

There is mounting concern that Islamic extremists are becoming a significant force among armed opposition groups within Syria.

A day before the meeting in Morocco, the U.S. designated Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist organization, citing its strong ties to al-Qaida in Iraq.

The move is an effort to blunt the influence of jihadists as Western countries step up cooperation with the Syrian opposition.

Morocco’s Deputy Foreign Minister Youssef Amrani told VOA’s Press Conference USA program that the longer the violence continues in Syria, the more Islamic extremists will benefit.

“We have to fight all kind of ideologies which encourage hate, the exclusion of the other, because Islam is not a religion of exclusion," he said. "Islam is compatible with democracy. What we need to fight is these fundamentalist organizations, which give a bad image of Islam, which is not compatible with our values today.”

Analyst Tabler said such jihadi groups fight alongside Free Syrian Army units, especially when they try to overrun government military installations.

“And that is a real cause for concern, especially if you overrun something like a chemical weapons base or something that has broader implications than just the Syrian theater,” he said.

Nations at the Friends of Syria meeting also are expected to discuss regional security implications of the conflict and efforts to mobilize aid for refugees caught in the humanitarian crisis.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More