News / Middle East

US Skeptical of Assad Peace Commitments

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (file photo)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (file photo)

The United States Thursday expressed deep skepticism that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad intends to fulfill commitments made to the Arab League this week to end the country’s political crisis. U.S. officials say there is no sign security forces are pulling back from urban areas.

U.S. officials say they welcome the Arab League attempt to end the political violence in Syria that has claimed more than 3,000 lives since February.

But they say there are no signs the Assad government intends to implement its pledges to withdraw security forces from cities, release political prisoners and hold talks with the opposition.

The Syrian government accepted the so-called road map to a settlement on Wednesday, but news reports said security forces are continuing lethal attacks on protesters with dozens of casualties reported in the central city of Homs, a hotbed of unrest.

At the State Department, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the Assad government appears to have added to what she said is its “long, deep and continuing history of broken promises.”

“Acceptance of the initiative, if it were to actually be implemented, would include all of the following things immediately: stopping the violence, release of the detainees, withdrawal of all elements of the armed forces from populated areas, and immediately allowing free and unfettered access to journalists and to the Arab League monitors that they’ve offered. So that’s that standard by which we will judge this, and we have not seen it yet," said Nuland.

President Assad has made reform offers since the start of the unrest that have largely gone unfulfilled.

Some figures in the Syrian opposition have expressed cautious support for the Arab League initiative, while others say only the president’s resignation can end the conflict.

Journalist and Middle East expert Robin Wright, a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, says Mr. Assad’s acceptance of the Arab League plan appears thus far to be a ploy to buy time, rather than a serious effort to stem the violence.

“President Assad has no credibility left really, in part because he has been so vicious, so consistently, in so many places, and for so long. But at this point he’s in such trouble that actually to have honored the deal would almost certainly have opened the way for greater displays of dissent against him," said Wright.

Wright said while the Syrian leader may be able to extend his time in office, it is “hard to believe” he can weather the crisis long-term, given what she termed the “extraordinary scope” of dissent at home and sanctions that now include a European embargo on Syrian crude oil imports.

The European Union, which has joined the United States in calling on President Assad to step down, said the Syrian leader needs to quickly and fully follow through on the commitments to the Arab League, and to open the political space for a peaceful transition.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Mr. Assad, who has not kept past promises, must implement the Arab League plan as soon as possible, and that the killing in Syria must stop immediately.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid