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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora