News / Africa

South Africa Opposes Syria Strikes

South African president Jacob Zuma opens the South African Parliament as he speaks in Cape Town, February 14, 2013.
South African president Jacob Zuma opens the South African Parliament as he speaks in Cape Town, February 14, 2013.
Anita Powell
Continental powerhouse South Africa says it opposes Western military intervention in Syria, a stance that appears to mirror that of other African nations and align with United Nations Security Council members China and Russia.
 
"South Africa does not believe that bombing the already suffering people and crumbling infrastructure of Syria will contribute to a sustainable solution," said South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday in Pretoria. "The U.N. Security Council cannot and must not be used to authorize military intervention aimed at regime change. A regime change agenda through outside military intervention undermines any hope of sustainable all-inclusive political solution."
 
In recent years, South Africa has deepened ties with China and Russia, longtime supporters of the ruling ANC party during the anti-apartheid struggle, who thrice used veto powers to block resolutions targeting the Syrian government since the 2011 uprising against the ruling government of President Bashar al-Assad.
 
But Na’eem Jeenah, executive director of the Johannesburg-based Africa-Middle East Center, says South Africa is not purposefully trying to align with China and Russia, but is maintaining its long-held stance against unilateralism.
 
"For South Africa, it is a matter of principle that it sticks by its position," he said. "There actually has not been much coming out officially from various other countries on the continent. And that is because I think that many of the other African countries are particularly concerned about negative reactions that they might get from the United States."
 
The U.S. and Britain are discussing possible military strikes after alleged chemical attacks on civilians last week by the Syrian government. Syrian officials have denied the allegations, and U.N. investigators are looking into the situation and are expected to file a report later this week.
 
Assad has previously reached out to the African Union for support in resisting U.N. pressure. He has also asked for support from BRICS, the group of large emerging economies comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The bloc earlier this year affirmed its support for dialogue and opposition to intervention.
 
Researcher Tom Wheeler of the South African Institute of International Affairs says there has been no compelling reason for Africa to get involved in arguments over Syria.
 
"The reaction in Africa, and in South Africa, has been almost zero," he said. "I think it is rather outside our area of concern. The events in Egypt have, if anything, overtaken any involvement in the Syrian issue."
 
But Jeenah says there is another reason African nations may be reluctant to support military intervention: In recent years, Africa has seen more foreign military intervention than any other continent.
 
"It is a history that is there, unfolding in front of us over the past couple of years," he said. "So the French involvement in West Africa, the French involvement in Mali, intervention in these countries, and of course Libya and the NATO bombing of Libya and NATO causing regime change in Libya, looms large in the memory of African states, of the African Union, and certainly of South Africa."
 
The Security Council is expected to debate the proposed British resolution soon, after the inspectors in Syria turn in their chemical weapons report.

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid