News / Middle East

US, France Confront Syria Over Embassy Protests

Pro-Syrian President Bashar Assad protesters, shout slogans as they protest against in front the U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria, July 8, 2011.
Pro-Syrian President Bashar Assad protesters, shout slogans as they protest against in front the U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria, July 8, 2011.

The United States has accused Syria of organizing an angry, two-day demonstration outside the U.S. embassy in Damascus to protest Ambassador Robert Ford's visit to the besieged anti-government town of Hama. France lodged similar complaints Sunday after a pro-government mob damaged its Syria missions.

A senior State Department official said protesters called on Ford to leave the country and threw food, glass and rocks at its embassy building. The official said Ford communicated Washington's displeasure with the events, which ended late Saturday, at a previously scheduled meeting with the Syrian foreign minister requested by the U.S.

In Paris, meanwhile, France summoned Syria's ambassador to complain about damage to the French embassy in Damascus and a consulate in Aleppo, Syria's second-largest city, during similar protests .

Ford and French Ambassador Eric Chevallier traveled to Hama Thursday and Friday to show solidarity with its residents, who have come under attack from government forces while staging some of the largest protests to date against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The visits have been interpreted as a strong diplomatic warning against escalating violence in the central city, which has been surrounded by tanks for a week.

Earlier, the Syrian foreign ministry said it had summoned the two envoys to protest their trips to the opposition stronghold. It called the visits "flagrant interference" in Syria's internal affairs meant to undermine the country's stability.

Mr. Assad appointed a new governor for Hama on Sunday. Anas Abdul-Razak is a medical doctor little known among opposition figures. The Syrian president last week fired his predecessor, who city residents said appeared to sympathize with protesters.

Also Sunday, Syria opened a national dialogue on political reform. Some opposition activists and intellectuals joined the talks, but most prominent Syrian dissidents boycotted the conference to protest Mr. Assad's deadly crackdown on the opposition uprising.

At the meeting, broadcast live on state television, a number of speakers condemned the government's security forces and its violence against protesters. But others repeated Mr. Assad's contention that foreign agitators are attempting to destabilize Syria.

Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa, who spoke at the event, said he hoped the two-day conference would help launch what he called Syria's transition to a "pluralistic democratic state in which all citizens enjoy equality." Al-Sharaa acknowledged the government would not have launched such a high-level dialogue if not for the blood shed by civilians and security forces.

Mr. Assad proposed the event last month as a gesture to the opposition, which has been holding regular mass protests since March to demand an end to his family's four-decade rule of the country.

Rights groups say Syrian security forces have killed at least 1,600 civilians in the crackdown, while the government blames the violence on terrorists and Islamists who it says have killed hundreds of security personnel.

You May Like

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid