World News

Syrian Opposition Figure Offers Transition Plan

A prominent Syrian opposition figure has proposed a transition plan for the war-torn country, requiring President Bashar al-Assad to hand power to a senior aide and leave the country with 500 supporters.

The outgoing head of the main opposition Syrian National Coalition, Moaz al-Khatib, published the plan on his Facebook page on Thursday as he met with other coalition members in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

The SNC was considering whether to support a U.S.-Russian initiative calling for the Syrian opposition and government to attend a peace conference next month to resolve their two-year conflict.



Khatib's plan would give Mr. Assad 20 days to accept its terms and another month to dissolve parliament and transfer all of his powers to Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Shara or Prime Minister Wael al-Halki.

One of them would then lead an interim government for 100 days, during which the Syrian military would have to be restructured. A Syrian transitional government formed with international guarantees would then take over.

The proposal also calls for the Syrian government to release all political prisoners. It indicates a willingness by some Syrian opposition figures to work with government officials deemed not to have played a direct role in Mr. Assad's deadly crackdown on dissent.

It is not clear whether the Sunni cleric's plan will be formally endorsed by the opposition coalition. He resigned as SNC chief in March in frustration at the lack of international support for the Syrian opposition.

The Syrian government had no immediate reaction to Khatib's plan. But, Mr. Assad has vowed to remain in the presidential post that he inherited from his late father in 2000. He also has expressed a determination to run for re-election next year.

Another SNC member Louay Safi said the coalition needs more assurances from world powers about the outcome of the proposed conference before it will agree to attend.



"We have a lot of unknowns about the Geneva conference. I mean, we are for any conference that helps transition the situation into an elective government away from the dictatorship, but that will be our condition -- we are not going to accept any negotiations that do not indicate that Assad is going to be out."



Eleven Western and Arab nations who support the SNC and call themselves the "Friends of Syria" met in Amman, Jordan on Wednesday to discuss the proposed peace conference.

In a joint statement, they stressed the need for a political solution in Syria, with a transitional government that would not include Mr. Assad, members of his government or associates with "blood on their hands."

Russia has called for Iran to be included in the conference. Both nations are longtime allies of Mr. Assad.

But, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry appeared to object to Iran's involvement in the process.

Speaking at an Amman news conference this week, he accused Tehran of perpetuating what he called Mr. Assad's "campaign of terror" by sending personnel to help thousands of Lebanese Hezbollah militants to fight alongside Syrian troops.

In a statement, the Friends of Syria denounced the involvement of foreign fighters in the Syrian conflict, calling it a growing threat to regional stability.

Lebanese security officials said Thursday that fighting between supporters of rival sides in the Syrian conflict continued overnight in the northern city of Tripoli, with the latest battles killing at least five people.

Street fighting has erupted in Tripoli repeatedly during the Syrian crisis, which has enflamed tensions between the city's Sunnis, who largely support Syrian Sunni rebels, and Alawites who mostly back Syrian President Assad -- a fellow Alawite.

Lebanese officials said Tripoli's violence has killed at least 16 people since Sunday.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs