News / Middle East

    Syria Again Sanctioned for Role in Middle East

    Syrian President Bashar al-Asad is playing a more prominent role in the Middle East, buttressed by his alliance with Iran and links to Lebanon's militant group, Hezbollah.  Syria's recent stances have put the country at odds with its moderate Arab neighbors and prompted the United States to renew sanctions against Damascus.

    The United States' decision to renew sanctions against Syria follows recent reports alleging Damascus has supplied Lebanon's militant group, Hezbollah, with long-range SCUD missiles.

    The United States has not confirmed the SCUD missiles claim, but recently accused Syria of arming Hezbollah militants with sophisticated missiles and rockets.  The U.S. State Department considers Hezbollah a terrorist group.

    In a letter to Congress, President Barack Obama said the United States is renewing sanctions against Syria for continuing to support terrorist organizations and pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs.

    Syria President Bashar al-Asad continues to maintain strong ties with Iran, even as the international community considers new U.N. sanctions against Tehran for conducting sensitive nuclear work.

    Mr. Asad has also taken a tough stance during recent Arab summits on the Middle East peace process.  President Asad has also encouraged Hezbollah and the Palestinian militant group Hamas to pursue what he calls "legitimate resistance against Israel."

    Peter Harling of the Crisis Group in Damascus says the rhetoric signals the level of instability in the region.

    "This revolving talk of war today in Lebanon, tomorrow in Gaza, the day after in Iran and back to Lebanon and so on and so forth just says a lot about the state of the region," he said.  "All key issues remain unsolved and the region as a whole is very unsettled. I think that the potential belligerents are preparing for a confrontation that they would like to avoid, but which they see as probable."

    University of Oklahoma Political Science Professor Joshua Landis writes the popular blog "Syria Comment."   Landis believes Damascus has made it clear it will pursue a path of "resistance" against Israel if the Jewish state does not return the occupied Golan Heights.

    "If Israel wants to keep [the Golan] and no one is willing to make it give it up, that means war, unless Syria is prepared to give it up, and Syria has said that it is not prepared to give it up and it will resist," he said.  "That means, if I were Syria, you have to build up the military readiness of your allies, and missile technology is the best way to do that."

    Editor Alex Vatanka of Jane's Islamic Affairs Analyst argues Syria and Iran have started to use more aggressive language, demonstrating their confidence their strategic position in relation to Israel is improving.

    "What I detect in recent months is a shift from what you could have called the sort of defensive mode to an offensive approach to dealing with issues like we have had with the SCUD missiles," he said. "We have gone from first denial by the Syrians and Hezbollah to [Hezbollah leader] Nasrallah and others saying 'so what if we have received missiles, not only do we want missiles, but we want the best arsenals we can have to defend ourselves against Israel."

    Vatanka believes the more aggressive rhetoric coming out of Syria is linked to Iran's more aggressive rhetoric against world powers working to limit Tehran's nuclear activities.

    You May Like

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora