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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs