News / Middle East

Syria Sets Presidential Election Amid Reports of Chemical Weapons Use

Syria Sets Presidential Election Amid Reports of Chemical Weapons Usei
X
April 22, 2014 4:28 AM
Syria has announced that it will hold presidential elections June 3, despite an ongoing civil war that has killed more than 150,000 people in the past three years and forced about 1.5 million to flee. The announcement comes as the West investigates rebel allegations that the government has been using chemical weapons against the opposition. Zlatica Hoke has more.

Syria Sets Presidential Election Amid Reports of Chemical Weapons Use

Zlatica Hoke
Syria has announced that it will hold presidential elections June 3, despite an ongoing civil war that has killed more than 150,000 people in the past three years and forced about 1.5 million to flee. The announcement comes as the West investigates rebel allegations that the government has been using chemical weapons against the opposition.
 
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a rare trip outside Damascus on Sunday to visit the ancient Christian town of Maaloula, recaptured from rebels last week.  He told local residents they can count on his government's protection against "terrorists," the term his government often uses for rebels. On Monday, his government announced the date of the next presidential election.
 
The two events follow Syrian government's recent advances against Islamist insurgents. President Assad has not officially said if he will run, but he is widely expected to use his current advantage to win a third term.
 
The United Nations warned against holding elections at this time.
 
"I think both the secretary-general [Ban Ki-moon] and joint special representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, have repeatedly warned that the holding of elections in the current circumstances amid the ongoing conflict and massive displacement will damage the political process and hamper the prospects for a political solution that the country so urgently needs," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the U.N. Secretary-General.
 
International talks on Syria held earlier this year have produced no tangible results. And the major players in the talks, Russia, the United States and the European Union, are dealing with the conflict in Ukraine, so that puts the future of Syria talks in question.
 
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called the election a parody of democracy.
 
"The regime's violent suppression of the Syrian people's calls for freedom and dignity is what sparked this brutal conflict. Staging elections under current conditions, including the effective disenfranchisement of millions of Syrians, neither addresses the aspirations of the Syrian people nor moves the country any closer to a negotiated political solution," said Psaki.
 
Psaki said the U.S. government is investigating reports that the Syrian government used toxic chlorine gas against the opposition earlier this month.  Yehia Soulaiman, a military analyst in Damascus, said the accusation is fabricated.
 
"They [the opposition] intend to win compassion from the international community by the excuse of chemical weapons. They are hoping for foreign intervention. The opposition rebels intend for foreign military intervention in Syria just like what happened in Libya years ago," said Soulaiman. 
 
The government agreed last year to ship its chemical weapons out of the country, following a sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of people. Chlorine was not covered by the agreement.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid