News / Middle East

    Past Differences Hamper US-Russian Efforts to Help Syria

    Past Differences Hamper US-Russian Efforts to Help Syriai
    X
    May 21, 2013 1:26 PM
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in the Middle East this week for talks to promote an international peace conference on Syria. As VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Russia wants Iran to be part of the process.
    Past Differences Hamper US-Russian Efforts to Help Syria
    Pamela Dockins
    Public diplomacy analysts say a difference in perceptions dating back to the Cold War era could hamper U.S. and Russian efforts to deal with the ongoing civil war in Syria.

    Heritage Foundation senior fellow Helle Dale said there is a "love-hate" relationship between the United States and Russia that is "quite complicated."

    On VOA's Encounter program, Dale said she agrees with an Obama administration official who told her that Cold War-era differences between the two countries are straining relations today.

    "This official said we work along the assumption that the Cold War is over. We are past that here in the United States. The Russians - they behave as though it’s still on," she said.

    Dale said these apparent differences are affecting U.S.-Russian efforts to organize a possible peace conference for Syria in June.

    Both sides agree on the need to bring Syrian rebels and representatives of President Bashar al-Assad's government to the negotiating table in a bid to end a conflict that has resulted in over 80,000 deaths.

    But Russia’s decision to send anti-ship missiles to the Syrian government has sparked U.S. criticism.

    Dale said Russia and the United States have a relationship in which they work together where there are common interests, but at the same time promote individual interests.

    "It is very pragmatic and not necessarily very loving," she said.

    Andrew Kuchins, the director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, agrees.

    He said since the end of the Cold War, it has been difficult for Russia to adjust from being a super-power to a much lesser power.

    "At the end of the Cold War, with the United States emerging as number one, it has kind of made the world free for, you know, America to do whatever it wants, wherever it wants, and this was true with the wars of Yugoslav succession in the 1990’s, and of course Iraq and elsewhere. And that’s something that really grates on the Russians," he said.

    Kuchins said there are other differences that have caused a strain between Russia and the United States.

    He said Russia interprets the Arab Spring as sort of a "proxy war" with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and their allies on one side and Iran on the other - a view that puts Russia at odds with the United States.

    "The status quo in the greater Middle East, as they refer to it, is their preferred option. They believe that any change is going to be to their detriment," he said.

    He also said he does not expect Russia to make any significant shifts in its support of the Syrian government between now and the possible June peace conference.

    "I am very skeptical of the Russians fundamentally changing their position. It’s good that we are talking about it and trying to do something but I would not get my hopes up about a big breakthrough in June, unfortunately," he said.

    However, Paul Pillar of Georgetown University's Center for Security Studies Program said there is reason for optimism concerning the conference, the idea of which resulted from talks between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

    "I think the development in Moscow in terms of the agreement that Secretary Kerry reached with the Russians to convene a conference is one of the most positive, hopeful things we’ve heard in connection with Syria in quite some time," he said.

    But Pillar said he does not believe the conference, if and when it is convened, will result in an immediate resolution of the conflict.

    He does, however, believe it could set the stage for an eventual agreement that would result in what he calls a "new political order," in which Syria's ethnic groups would share responsibilities and a role in government.

    You May Like

    Video For Many US Veterans, the Vietnam War Continues

    More than 40 years after it ended, war in Vietnam and America’s role in it continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    100 immigrants graduated Friday as US citizens in New York, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in cities across country

    Family's Fight Pays Off With Arlington Cemetery Burial Rights for WASPs

    Policy that allowed the Women Airforce Service Pilots veterans to receive burial rites at Arlington had been revoked in 2015

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora