News / Middle East

Syrian Troops Show Strength Ahead of Peace Talks

Syrian Troops Show Strength Ahead of Peace Talksi
X
May 22, 2013 12:51 PM
The Syrian government says it has made significant progress in recapturing territory from opposition forces, even as it apparently prepares to take part in planned peace talks next month. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott has more from Amman.
Syrian Troops Show Strength Ahead of Peace Talks
Elizabeth Arrott
The Syrian government says it has made significant progress in recapturing territory from opposition forces, even as it apparently prepares to take part in planned peace talks next month.

The government offensive against the former rebel stronghold Qusair comes ahead of a peace conference next month aimed at bringing both sides in the conflict to the negotiating table.

Some observers believe the two events are related.

"I think the negotiation has started. What we witnessed in al Qusair and other areas is part of the negotiation by fire," said Oraib Al-Rantawi, the director of Amman's Al Quds Center. 

The seemingly rapid setback for rebel forces in the key city, a gateway for the government to push farther north and east, challenges an assumption that the collapse of President Bashar al-Assad's government is imminent - or even inevitable.

Al-Rantawi believes the rebels can regroup.  But he said their position at the negotiating table has been weakened just as they believe they might be getting greater material help from abroad.

"The regime succeeded to send -- and its allies, of course -- to send a message that if you want to put an end to this conflict by military means you have to go through a very painful, very long, very costly process and there is no guarantee you will win," Al-Rantawi said.

Yet some in the opposition have already dismissed the idea of sitting down with the government -- demanding President Assad step down as a condition for talks.  Few are also pinning hopes on their "Friends of Syria" allies, meeting in Amman this week.

Even as the conflict has dragged in regional and international powers on both sides, rebels remain suspicious of the motives of those organizing the conference, including the United States, which has called for Assad's ouster.

Salem al Falahat, head of the Alumma Studies Center in Amman, argues the world is not serious about confronting “Assad's arrogance.”  The conference, he said, is “nothing but a way to let the situation continue."  

Many Syrians are likely to agree, as the war grinds on into its third year -- with more than 70,000 people already having been killed.  Al-Rantawi believes stability rather than politics is their key concern.

"Four million Syrians now have no place to live.  This is the priority of the Syrian people.  I don't believe or even listen to all these lies made by the regime or by the opposition groups," he said.

As the competing interests meet next month to see if a political solution can be had, the voice of millions of Syrians caught up in the conflict may struggle to be heard.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid