News

    Syria Cease-fire Poses New International Challenges

    Al Pessin

    The Syrian government’s decision to partially implement the peace plan endorsed by the Arab League and the United Nations creates new challenges for world and regional leaders.

    The cease-fire in Syria largely took hold last Thursday, but only briefly.  Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have resumed some shelling of opposition strongholds, and the government’s tanks and troops did not pull out of cities and towns, as the plan requires.  United Nations truce observers have begun to arrive in Syria.  But Western officials, and analysts like Nyresa Cama of the Janusian Risk Advisory Group, do not expect the relative calm to last very long.

    “I don’t think there’s really any strong evidence that we can point to that the Assad government has been convinced to go down a different route than the one it’s been going down," Cama said.

    And that creates some interesting questions for the international community.

    “I think the West really has to make up its mind what level of intervention it wants to stage in Syria, if any,” Cama said.

    Western governments say they have no intention of intervening, even if the cease-fire breaks down.  But some Arab governments, notably Saudi Arabia, want to arm the Syrian opposition.  
    The Saudis have become leading opponents of President Assad, in part to appear to champion a popular rebellion, says retired British diplomat Michael Williams.  And he says the Saudis also want to put pressure on their chief rival, Iran, a key Assad ally.

    "If the Assad regime was to fall, this would be an enormous blow for Iran.  And Saudi Arabia feels very strongly now that this is the time for change,” Williams said.

    The other key countries in the Syrian conflict are China and Russia, which have vetoed two resolutions at the United Nations Security Council.  

    China generally opposes international intervention as a matter of principle.

    Russia particularly needs Syria, its closest friend in the Middle East and home to its only naval facility outside the former Soviet Union.

    Experts say if the Assad government abandons the peace plan and ends the ceasefire, China and especially Russia will come under pressure to change their policies.

    “If it violates the ceasefire, that puts Russia in a difficult position and it leaves the U.S. and its allies on the Security Council in a much stronger position to try and push through the type of Security Council resolution we were looking at a few months ago,” Cama said.

    But Michael Williams believes China may come around to the Western position, because it needs to worry about its relationships throughout the Middle East.

    “I think a key target of Western diplomacy, frankly, should be to try and peel away China from its agreement with Russia on Syria,” Williams said.

    Experts have little confidence the Arab League and United Nations peace plan, initiated by special envoy Kofi Annan, will actually result in a diplomatic solution.  

    But humanitarian officials are hoping to use any break in fighting to deliver aid to hard hit civilian areas.  And experts say changes in the international equation could produce enough pressure, over some additional months, to convince President Assad to resign.

    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora