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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid