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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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