News / Middle East

    Syrian Opposition Sets Preconditions for Peace Talks

    Foreign ministers of the Arab League countries meet in Cairo, Nov. 3, 2013. Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad Jarba told an Arab League emergency meeting on Sunday that the opposition would not attend proposed peace talks in Geneva unless there was a clear time-frame for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave power.
    Foreign ministers of the Arab League countries meet in Cairo, Nov. 3, 2013. Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad Jarba told an Arab League emergency meeting on Sunday that the opposition would not attend proposed peace talks in Geneva unless there was a clear time-frame for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave power.
    Reuters
    The Syrian opposition set terms on Sunday for attending peace talks to end the Syrian civil war, in a move that throws the proposed conference into further confusion after the international envoy said there should be no preconditions.
     
    The long-delayed talks - known as Geneva 2 - are meant to bring Syria's warring sides to the negotiating table, but have been repeatedly delayed because of disputes between world powers, divisions among the opposition and irreconcilable positions of Assad and the rebels.
     
    Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad Jarba said the opposition would not attend unless there was a clear timeframe for President Bashar al-Assad to leave power. He also said they could not accept the presence of Iran.
     
    “We have decided not to enter Geneva talks unless it is with dignity, and unless there is a successful transfer of power with a specific timeframe, and without the occupier Iran at the negotiating table,” Jarba told an Arab League emergency meeting of foreign minister in Cairo.
     
    Lakhdar Brahimi, the international envoy for Syria, has said he hoped the conference could still be held in the next few weeks despite obstacles.
     
    Though he had in the past said he thought Assad would not be part of a transitional government that Geneva 2 would attempt to install, he said on Friday that his opinions had no bearing on the parametres for the conference.
     
    There is also discord among world powers over whether Iran should be invited to the talks. Tehran has said it is ready to come and Brahimi says the U.N. preferred that Iran attend but there had been no agreement on that yet.
     
    A senior State Department official, speaking ahead of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Cairo and Riyadh, said the top U.S. diplomat would make clear to the Saudis that Iran would not be welcome to attend the Syria peace talks unless it endorsed a past agreement that would see Assad give up power.
     
    “Iran has not done that, and without that even we couldn't consider the possibility of their participating,” the official added, stressing: “It is a question of just making sure they understand the details of how firm our position is.”
     
    Call for Weapons
     
    In Cairo, an Arab League draft communique called on the Syrian opposition to attend the conference.
     
    “It [Arab League] decided to call on all sides of the Syrian opposition under the leadership of the Syrian National Coalition ... to accelerate the formation of the negotiating delegation”.
     
    In Cairo, Jarba urged world powers to supply Syrians fighting Assad with weapons in the conflict that has so far claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people.
     
    “We demand a clear decision on supplying the Syrian people with weapons to fight the hostility which gets worse hour by hour ... We guarantee that these weapons will not fall into the wrong hands,” he said.
     
    The growing influence of radical Islamist fighters and the disarray of rebel forces have made Western powers wary of intervening directly in the civil war by supplying weapons or troops.
     
    While some rebel tensions stem from contrasting ideological outlooks, most infighting centers around rival claims over the control of territory, smuggling and other spoils of war.
     
    Arab and Western officials have said that international powers were unlikely to meet their goal of holding the conference in November.
     
    Even if Jarba were to attend the Geneva 2 meetings, he has no authority over the rebel brigades battling to overthrow Assad.
     
    The main rebel brigades have announced their opposition to the conference if it does not result in Assad's removal.

    You May Like

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Presidential Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.