News / Middle East

    Syrians Wary, Resigned Over Possible US Strike

    Residents watch as a convoy of U.N. vehicles carrying a team of United Nations chemical weapons experts drive past near one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Zamalka, a suburb of Damascus on August 28, 2013.
    Residents watch as a convoy of U.N. vehicles carrying a team of United Nations chemical weapons experts drive past near one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Zamalka, a suburb of Damascus on August 28, 2013.
    Elizabeth Arrott
    As U.S. lawmakers consider whether to use military force against Syria for alleged use of chemical weapons, some in Damascus are banding together for any eventuality. 

    The delay on a U.S. decision has provided some in Damascus with a sense of relief, either giving hope Washington will back down on its threat of a strike or giving time to better prepare for one.

    Secretary General Sana Naser, of the New Syria Party, a government-approved opposition group, says U.S. President Barack Obama “shirked” his responsibility by handing the decision to Congress.  

    Not that it matters, she added, as she believes lawmakers will approve military action, especially now that the United States has put so many resources into position.  Tuesday's joint U.S.-Israeli missile test over the Mediterranean is only likely to strengthen such opinions. But Naser refuses to call possible U.S. action against Syria a “strike.”

    Speaking by phone from Damascus, she described it as an aggression against a sovereign state, by one U.N. member against another.  And as such, she said, it would be a violation of international law.

    Anas Aljazayri, a member of the Syrian Observatory for the Victims of Violence and Terrorism, which largely reflects government positions, disagrees.  He thinks Obama realizes war with Syria “is not a picnic.”

    "We are not afraid and we are not worried and we are too confident there is no hit on Syria," Aljazayri said.

    But if it does happen, he argues the Syrian government and military are ready.  He pointed out they have been preparing not just during the past two and half years of internal conflict, when the United States and other Western leaders called for President Bashar al-Assad to step down.  Aljazayri said there have been 30 years of expectation, beginning with tensions between the West and Mr. Assad's father, the late President Hafez al-Assad.

    AlJazayri is also dismissive of the Arab League and its decision this week to support U.N. action against Syria. He said the League has never stood by the the side of Arab interests, and has been “conspiring” against Syria since the beginning of the uprising against  Assad.  The League suspended Damascus in 2011.

    Anti-American, pro-government views are not hard to find in Damascus.  Decades of censorship has led to a general conformity of publicly-expressed opinion.

    Some in the rebel camp hope the current delay on any strike will give them more time to convince silent opponents of Assad to come to their side.

    The New Syria Party's Sana Naser does speak out against the government in cases of corruption or abuse, and unwarranted arrests of citizens, in particular during the threat of conflict. But she said this does not mean she and others will stand by idly if the country is subjected to an external attack.  

    Naser said a new national defense group to protect against an attack has been formed, and adds she was one of the first women to volunteer.

    • This citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network shows anti-Syrian regime protesters hold a poster depicting U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Kafr Nabil, Idlib province, Sept. 20, 2013.
    • Children sit along a damaged street filled with debris in the besieged area of Homs, Sept. 19, 2013.
    • Debris is seen on the ground after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
    • An injured man walks along a street after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
    • This citizen journalism image provided by The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad shows a Syrian military tank on fire during clashes with Free Syrian army fighters in Joubar, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 18, 2013.
    • A member of the Shohadaa Badr Brigade, which operates under the Free Syrian Army, stands in shooting position behind sandbags in Ashrafieh, Aleppo, September 17, 2013.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters walk through rubble inside the old city of Aleppo, Sept. 16, 2013.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he stands on rubble of damaged buildings in al-Aseela neighborhood near Aleppo's historic citadel, Sept. 13, 2013.
    • In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen, a Syrian protester chants slogans during a demonstration in Arbeen, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 13, 2013.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Mrs. Burpgoat from: UK
    September 03, 2013 9:27 PM
    VOA, you are PROPAGANDA MOUTHPIECES for the New World Order. HEGEMONY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    by: Father John McDonald from: Detroit
    September 03, 2013 8:24 PM
    9 reasons why our Fascist Government wants to go to war:

    In no particular order:

    One: Give the appearance of unifying the country behind the President, who “did his job the right way,” by going to Congress for approval. This elevates Obama’s ratings and, by inference, suggests that his other programs should be accorded more merit. A wartime president always gains more support.

    Two: Give the people an adrenaline rush. The effect should never be underestimated. Cleanses the pores, cleans the slate, and relieves frustration by proxy, temporarily…if you have very little access to your cerebral functions.

    Three: In this case, winning Congressional approval reinstates the illusion, for a few moments, that we are a Constitutional Republic, with a government dedicated to justice.

    Four: Help fulfill the long-planned US-Israeli agenda of destabilizing Syria and causing it to partition into warring and chaotic ethnic factions.

    Five: Stop the construction of a natural gas pipeline across Syria, which would boost Iran’s economy by sending Iranian gas to Europe. Iran’s economy must be torpedoed.

    Six: Send a message throughout the Middle East that the US is all-powerful and the dollar must remain the reserve currency in all oil transactions.

    Seven: Feed the US military-industrial complex, which demands wars.

    Eight: Aid the long-term goal of Globalism/Free Trade, which involves putting the entire Middle East into unresolvable debt and suffering…and then coming in with outside elite bankster financing, to rebuild the entire region and own it, lock, stock, and barrel.

    Nine: Distract Americans from a number of scandals, including: Benghazi, Fast&Furious, IRS non-profit division crimes, NSA spying, the continuing failed war in Afghanistan, and a tanking domestic economy with more and more people living below the poverty line.

    None of these reasons has anything to do with “punishing Assad for using chemical weapons.” In any case, that whole scenario has been thrown into extreme doubt.

    Your government at work.

    by: Monsignor Woofellwitz from: Frankfurt
    September 03, 2013 8:20 PM
    The New York Times reports that a 50 man cell of “rebels” trained and armed by the CIA and US special forces is to sneak over the border from Jordan into Syria this week to begin fighting government forces there, a move that should prompt concern given that moderate rebel forces are now fully infiltrated by extremist al Qaeda linked terrorists.

    The details were revealed in a report detailing a meeting between the president and Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, during which Obama assured them that covert action would be stepped up in an attempt to do more damage to the Syrian army.

    Obama told the two that in addition to a limited strike, “we have a broader strategy that will allow us to upgrade the capabilities of the opposition.”

    The Times reports that “the C.I.A.’s program to arm the rebels would be deliberately limited at first to allow a trial run for American officials to monitor it before ramping up to a larger, more aggressive campaign.”

    “There seems to be emerging from this administration a pretty solid plan to upgrade the opposition,” Graham said after the meeting.

    Both Graham and McCain now say they are willing to vote to authorize military action by the US on Syria. During a press conference (full video here) McCain stated that a congressional vote against the administration’s request “would be catastrophic in its consequences” for US credibility internationally.

    “It is all in the details, but I left the meeting feeling better than I felt before about what happens the day after and that the purpose of the attack is going to be a little more robust than I thought,” Graham said.

    McCain has been pushing to arm Syrian rebels for some time, saying this week that it is “shameful” that the US had three months ago promised arms for the opposition, and failed to do so.

    The Arizona Senator said in an interview that he had strongly urged the president on Monday to provide anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems to the opposition and to attack the Syrian Air Force.

    Graham added that he hoped the opposition would be given “a chance to speak directly to the American people” to allay fears that rebel forces are dominated by al Qaeda linked extremists.

    “They’re not trying to replace one dictator, Assad, who has been brutal… to only have al-Qaeda run Syria,” Graham said.

    However, as we have repeatedly pointed out, this is the exact scenario that is unfolding in Syria, according to intelligence sources and military experts.

    Elements of the Free Syrian Army have merged with jihadist groups that have direct ties to al Qaeda groups. For months, video footage of brutal attacks led by such extremists have been surfacing online.

    Scores of different Syrian rebel groups are pledging allegiance to the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate group responsible for killing American troops in Iraq.

    The New York Times has reported that “Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups.”

    Military experts and former intelligence officials are on record as stating that the Syrian fighters who defected from the Assad military in order to protect civilians and innocent protesters have been almost completely sidelined, with all of the US support and logistics going to the Muslim Brotherhood/Salafist-led Syrian Military Council backed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

    These Syrian rebels have been responsible for a plethora of atrocities, from terrorist attacks and massacres, to forcing people to become suicide bombers, to attacks on Christian churches and making children carry out grisly beheadings of unarmed prisoners.

    The bottom line is that the CIA, with the blessing of the Obama administration, is once again training and arming extremists that have pledged to kill Americans.

    by: Moniqa Beal from: UK
    September 03, 2013 5:52 PM
    hey "jale" you speak like a true Turk...

    by: jale from: türkiye
    September 03, 2013 2:29 PM
    why usa take or destroy all gune which Esed and opponent have thus people do not die and democracy may came more easly if the purpose is democracy
    In Response

    by: Kitty Kat from: Wharf City, UK
    September 03, 2013 8:26 PM
    But the CIA runs, funds, and trains Al Qaeda...............ALL ON RECORD!!!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.