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

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

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