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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid