News / Middle East

Obama Rethinks Policy on Syrian Civil War

Obama Rethinks Policy on Syrian Civil Wari
X
February 25, 2014 3:48 AM
The Obama administration appears to be rethinking options regarding the civil war in Syria following a deadlock in peace talks, the rapidly growing death toll, and the expansion of the massive humanitarian crisis. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel has details from Washington.

Obama Rethinks Policy on Syrian Civil War

Meredith Buel
The Obama administration appears to be rethinking options regarding the civil war in Syria following a deadlock in peace talks, the rapidly growing death toll, and the expansion of the massive humanitarian crisis.
 
The bombings in Syria continue.
 
The civil war is grinding into its third year.
 
The moderate opposition to the Assad government is weaker.
 
“What has happened is that Assad and Hezbollah are winning and the al-Qaida affiliates are becoming stronger within the insurgency," said Michael O’Hanlon, who is with the Brookings Institution. "So our current policy is failing to prevent the very outcomes that we most fear.”
 
Analysts say the strength of groups inspired by al-Qaida is actually helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who calls all the rebels terrorists.
 
“The narrative that is prevailing today is that this is a fight between the Assad regime and al-Qaida," said Mideast analyst David Schenker, a Middle East analyst at The Washington Institute.  "And therefore the United States, the Obama administration, has taken this ambivalent position.”
 
The conflict has killed more than 135,000 people and has driven more than nine million from their homes.
 
The U.S. hoped the peace talks in Geneva would bring a breakthrough, but the latest round ended in deadlock.
 
"It is very clear that Bashar al-Assad is continuing to try to win this in the battlefield rather than to come to the negotiating table in good faith," said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
 
Syrian military pilots are dropping barrel bombs on civilian populations. This has so terrified people in recent weeks that a half-million have fled their neighborhoods.
 
Analysts say the Obama administration could provide intelligence on the pilots to help the rebels stop the carnage.
 
“We don’t see so many fixed wing aircraft flying around Syria anymore because most of the pilots have defected," said David Schenker. "We have got to work on this with the remaining helicopter pilots either by convincing them to leave or by helping the rebels to better target them.”
 
Analysts also say the U.S. and its allies can still build the moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA) into an effective force.
 
They say the FSA could be supplied with anti-tank weapons, better ammunition and cash to pay fighters.
 
The CIA could also expand its modest rebel training program in Jordan.
 
However, officials say President Barack Obama remains skeptical about any step that could draw the U.S. into the war.
 
“History would suggest that Obama does not want to play any major role in this war," Michael O’Hanlon said. "And he prefers to ignore it for as long and as often and as much as he can.”
 
Short of military force, it's not clear how Washington can change the course of the war, in which Syria's government is supported by Iran and Russia.

You May Like

Obama Reaffirms Commitment to Ukraine

Following White House meeting with President Poroshenko, US leader offers additional security assistance to Kyiv, stresses support for diplomatic solution in Ukraine’s conflict with Russia More

Photogallery Global Audience Watches as Scots Go to Polls

People were almost equally divided over a vote for independence, watched closely by Britain's allies, investors and restive regions at home and abroad More

China to Invest $20B in India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high-profile visit More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid