News / Middle East

US: Damascus Violence Is Sign Assad Losing Control

Burnt out cars at site of blast in Damascus June 28, 2012Burnt out cars at site of blast in Damascus June 28, 2012
x
Burnt out cars at site of blast in Damascus June 28, 2012
Burnt out cars at site of blast in Damascus June 28, 2012
The United States says escalating violence in and around Damascus is a result of President Bashar al-Assad assaulting the Syrian people and a sign that he is losing control of the capital.

A bomb exploded near Syria's main judiciary complex, known as the Palace of Justice, in central Damascus on Thursday, wounding three people. A day earlier, militants attacked a pro-government private TV station on the capital's outskirts, killing three journalists and four security guards. Syria's government blamed the attacks on armed terrorists whom it says are behind the country's 15-month uprising against  Assad's 11-year rule.

U.S. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said Thursday Washington also "condemns violence against innocents from any direction that they come from." But, she said President Assad has created the conditions for a loss of government control in Damascus and elsewhere by "perpetrating violence against his own people." Nuland said the "preponderance of force is his and the responsibility is his."

Turkey also increased pressure on Assad, deploying troops and anti-aircraft batteries to its border with Syria in response to the downing of a Turkish military jet by Syrian fire last week. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered his troops to treat any Syrian security forces approaching the border as a target. The Turkish government also has been hosting Syrian rebels and tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.

Iranian television broadcast a rare interview with Assad on Thursday, saying he rejected foreign pressure to end his suppression of the uprising. A Farsi translation dubbed over the interview quoted the Syrian president as saying foreign pressure "did not have an effect in the past and it will not have any influence in the future."

The Farsi translator also quoted Assad as accusing Turkish officials of pursuing policies that lead to the killing of Syrians. But, the translation said the Syrian president makes a distinction between the Turkish government and what he called the positive view of Turkish people towards Syria. Iranian television said the interview was conducted last week.

The developments come as the International Committee of the Red Cross said fighting between government and rebel forces has continued in the rebellious central city of Homs, preventing aid workers from evacuating sick and wounded civilians. The ICRC said a joint Red Cross and Syrian Arab Red Crescent team tried to enter Homs on Wednesday after both sides pledged to pause the fighting, but turned back because "agreed-upon conditions were not met."

The ICRC did not say who violated the agreements. But, Syrian state news agency SANA said the government accused "terrorists" of foiling the aid mission to Homs. There was no immediate response from rebels in the city.

World powers were preparing to gather in Geneva for a Saturday meeting called by international peace envoy Kofi Annan, who wants them to agree on new ideas for resolving the Syrian conflict. U.N. diplomatic sources said Annan is proposing the formation of a Syrian unity government that does not explicitly exclude Assad but would bar those whose participation could undermine the country's stability. Details were vague.

Syrian opposition groups said they would not accept any political transition plan that lacks an explicit call for Assad to step down.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, answers questions during Moscow news conference, June 28, 2012Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, answers questions during Moscow news conference, June 28, 2012
x
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, answers questions during Moscow news conference, June 28, 2012
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, answers questions during Moscow news conference, June 28, 2012
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said any solution to the crisis must be decided by Syrians themselves. He said Russia, a longtime ally of the Assad government, will not support external "meddling."

"The meeting in Geneva was intended to support Kofi Annan's plan and it must set the conditions for the end of violence and the start of an all-Syrian national dialogue, and not pre-determine the contents of this dialogue," Lavrov said.

Lavrov said it was a "mistake" not to invite Syrian ally Iran to the Geneva talks, calling the country an "influential player" in the situation. The United States had objected to Iran being included in the meeting, which will be attended by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus representatives of Turkey and the Arab League. Saudi Arabia, a prominent supporter of the Syrian opposition, also was not invited.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters in Latvia that Washington believes any solution must comply "with international standards on human rights, accountable governance, the rule of law and equal opportunity for all people of Syria." Clinton said the Annan framework "lays out how to arrive at that."

Lavrov and Clinton are due to meet in St. Petersburg on Friday to discuss the Syria crisis.

Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, said the Obama administration has steadily gained confidence that its policy of regime change "is the correct one and is going to happen sooner or later." He said Russia still appears convinced that it can find a way to keep Assad loyalists in power even without the Assad family itself.

But Landis said the balance of power in Syria is changing.

"The Arab majority, the Sunni Arab majority, is going to win this in the long run. That's what's been happening throughout the Middle East in the last several decades," Landis said.

Landis predicted the transition from minority Alawite domination to Sunni Muslim rule in Syria would be protracted and messy. But he noted that Western and Arab sanctions on the Syrian government and assistance to the rebels are already bearing fruit.

"Western Europe, the Gulf countries, America are starving the Syrian government with very strict sanctions. And they are feeding the opposition, pumping in money, arms [and] intelligence. This is rapidly changing the balance of power," Landis said.

Landis said Assad's government still has many assets, but the rebel Free Syrian Army "is becoming much more lethal, getting much better at terrorist-type attacks and is taking the fight to the regime."

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

Mark Snowiss

Mark Snowiss is a Washington D.C.-based multimedia reporter.  He has written and edited for various media outlets including Pacifica and NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @msnowiss and on Google Plus

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Lorett Redloex from: France
June 29, 2012 7:11 AM
unfortunately, since we have come to know the lies perpetrated by the Palestinians regarding "massacres" (which they have perpetrated on their own people) the real massacres in Syria remain "unverified" - nobody wants to play a fool for the Arabs false claims... so, for all the brave Syrians - you should resent the Palestinians for muddying the waters for you...
In Response

by: Ismail Aljazaeri
June 29, 2012 9:48 AM
A question to Americans: So now the US support use of terror to make political gain? I thought you were against it in Iraq when the US forces were subjected to roadside bombs, and suicide bombing against civilian target! and against Palestinian bombing of Israeli targets! Why are you supporting Syrian terrors against civilian targets? isnt this a contradiction? do you thing you will be imuned in future? America, your positions are confusing
In Response

by: MD from: Hebrides, Scotland
June 29, 2012 9:06 AM
Dear Miss Redloex, the problem you have identified - is a problem of credibility across the Arab nations... its not endemic to the Palestinians although the Palestinians are the most egregious of the conduct - their credibility has never been good to begin with... the whole Arab nations are know to be cavalier with facts - in fact if you learn about Islam in general you will see that there are no distinct perimeters separating fact from fantasy... so its not only Palestinians but Egyptians Saudis Libyans Jordanians Iraquis the list is endless... there are 2 Billion Muslims with tenuous hold on reality...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs