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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
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.

AppleAndroid