News / Middle East

Syria Crisis Deepens With Arms Race, Assad Gains

A boy walks on the rubble of buildings damaged by what activists said were missiles fired by Syrian Air Force fighter jets loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Salqin city, Idlib governate, May 28, 2013.
A boy walks on the rubble of buildings damaged by what activists said were missiles fired by Syrian Air Force fighter jets loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Salqin city, Idlib governate, May 28, 2013.
Al Pessin
It has been a tough couple of days for the Syria conflict, with announcements on arms for the rebels and the government, and more delays in the U.S.-Russian effort to convene a peace conference.  
 
Britain and France won a significant victory at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers Monday, with an agreement not to renew an embargo that prevented them from sending arms to the Syrian rebels.  EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced the decision after a day-long meeting in Brussels.
 
EU Arms Embargo for Syria

  • No longer forbids supplying arms to Syria's opposition forces
  • No immediate arms shipments are planned
  • Safeguards would ensure supplies are for protection of civilians
  • Arms embargo was part of package of sanctions imposed in 2011
  • EU plans further sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad's government
“Everybody is trying to work out how best to support the people of Syria, and how best to ensure that we get to a political solution as quickly as possible," she said. 
 
But the EU members agreed not to actually send any weapons to the rebels at least until they see whether the United States and Russia succeed in convening a peace conference.
 
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov responded to the EU decision on Tuesday, calling it “regrettable,” and he confirmed that his government will deliver new anti-aircraft missiles to the Syrian government.
 
​He said Russia is providing defense to an established government based on an existing contract, and that the missiles would allow Damascus to respond to an air threat - a capability the rebels do not currently possess.  Analysts say the missiles are intended to deter any further Israeli airstrikes and any possible intervention from Europe or by the United States.
 
US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, May 27, 2013, in ParisUS Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, May 27, 2013, in Paris
x
US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, May 27, 2013, in Paris
US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, May 27, 2013, in Paris
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met in Paris, but were unable to confirm plans for the peace conference.  
 
Russia has gotten what it calls an agreement “in principle” from the Syrian government to send a representative.  But some opposition parties remain staunchly opposed to talking to the government and to any future role for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
 
Secretary Kerry confirmed that getting commitments from all the Syrian parties is the main stumbling block.
 
“We both want to make this conference happen, if possible, together with many other countries that have joined up. We talked about the participants, and that is an ongoing conversation," he said. 
 
Some analysts believe recent events may force the opposition’s hand.  
 
At the IHS Jane’s security firm, analyst David Hartwell says Assad has been strengthened in recent weeks by the Russian missiles, other weapons from Iran, support from Hezbollah and recent battlefield gains, combined with the opposition's disunity and concern among many Syrians about militant influence among the rebels.
 
“All of these factors appear to be coalescing at this moment in time to give him, or certainly give the appearance, that he can think about long-term survival," he said. 
 
Hartwell says confidence is up within the Assad regime, and it could press for more military advances in the coming days, including a possible assault on the country’s largest city, Aleppo.  
 
Syria-watcher Chris Doyle of the Council for Arab-British Understanding reluctantly agrees that Assad is in a strong enough position that he might survive politically, at least during a transition period.
 
“I think that cannot be ruled out, as distasteful as that is, given his record.  If it is symbolic, then maybe that is something that people will have to agree to, while holding their noses," he said. 
 
But that is not something much of the Syrian opposition is ready to do.  And Doyle says if plans for the peace conference falter and some EU countries do send weapons to the rebels, it will only make the humanitarian situation worse and the prospects of a political solution even more remote.
 

You May Like

Photogallery Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had earlier warned storm could be one of worst the city has ever faced More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
May 29, 2013 9:48 AM
What is the point of preferring one terrorist organisation to another? Assad is supported by hezbollah and the opposition is sponsored by muslim brotherhood, al qaeda, hamas etc all of which is a terrorist organization. One is lone ranger and the other is hydra-headed. What is the Western preference of al qaida to hezbollah? None of them is a friend of the west, and they have the same agenda. Their difference is that one is sunni and the other is shia. But their goal is elimination of everything western and Israel.

If the West is truly serious with liberation for minorities in Syria, all it needs do (as it has done) is instigate the war, set up standing army in the UN with a mandate to protect minorities. In a situation where extremism is the issue, to mandate the standing army to instill secularism while at the same time not stopping those who must adhere to their region - but ensure that no one is forced to embrace a religion they wouldn't. Then minorities everywhere will find some succor in the UN.


by: Igor from: Russia
May 29, 2013 12:27 AM
What a shameful decision taken by EU members! They have chosen to to arm the rebels although they know for sure that almost all the rebels are terrorists and led by terrorists. By such step they have sacrified the interests of Syrian people for their own dirty purpose. They hope that those terrorists will overthrow Syrian government and Syria will fall into chaos. Then they will have a pretext to send troops to invade Syria like Iraq, Afganistan...to create a puppet government hostile to Iran, Russia, ready to obey israel's order.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid