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

    Wife of IS Leader Charged in Death of US Hostage

    Suspect allegedly admitted to being responsible for American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who officials say was sexually abused and ‘owned’ by one IS member

    Year of the Monkey Could Prove Economic Balancing Act for China

    China is up against a tricky situation on the financial front, facing the need to fight capital flight while also stopping a further slide of foreign currency reserves

    Runners Attempt 26-mile South Pole Marathon in Sub-Zero Temperatures

    How alluring is running 26.2 miles at 10,000 feet when it’s minus 31 Celsius out?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.