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

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora