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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid