News / Middle East

White House: Israel Has Right to Self-Defense

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney speaks during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, May 6, 2013.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney speaks during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, May 6, 2013.
The White House on Monday declined to comment directly on reported Israeli air strikes in Syria.  But President Barack Obama's spokesman said Israel is right to be concerned about movements of weapons to Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group.  

Monday's White House news briefing was the first since air strikes over the weekend believed to have been carried out by Israel to prevent advanced weapons from being transferred to Hezbollah militants.

Though Israel took the step of clarifying it was not involving itself in Syria's civil war, the attacks brought a warning from the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which called them a declaration of war.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney referred reporters to the Israeli government for any comment on the attacks, but said Israel is right to be concerned about sophisticated weapons going to Hezbollah.

"The transfer of sophisticated weapons to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah is certainly a concern and a threat to Israel and they have the right to act in their own sovereign interest in response to those concerns," said Carney.

Carney declined to say if the United States knew in advance that air strikes would occur, adding that the U.S. remains in close coordination generally with Israel.

Asked about the potential for a wider regional war, he reiterated concerns about the spread of violence, saying this makes achieving a political transition in Syria even more important.

The White House spokesman was also pressed again about President Obama's statements that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross a "red line" for him, forcing as yet unspecified action.

A New York Times report Sunday said some White House aides were concerned Obama first used the term inadvertently last year.  

Calling Obama's use of the term "deliberate," Carney emphasized that Obama has an "array of options" before him if evidence proves the case that chemical weapons have been used.

"As the investigation continues and as we have said all along, he is looking at a range of options and he is not removing any option from the table, if you will, and he will take action that he thinks is in the interests of the United States and our national security, as well as in the interest of the Syrian people," he said.

President Obama has come under criticism from some Republican lawmakers, notably Arizona Senator John McCain, who accused Obama of failing to act on evidence in hand so far of chemical weapons use.

Carney "strongly disputed" McCain's remarks, and underscored the importance of having all the facts and "corroborated evidence" before policy decisions are made.

President Obama said over the weekend that he does not envision U.S. ground forces going to Syria.  White House officials continue to emphasize increased non-lethal assistance to Syria's opposition.

Officials also continue to say that the U.S. believes that the Assad government, and not Syrian rebels, would likely be behind any use of chemical weapons.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Arkansas, North Carolina have approved similar laws that gay-marriage opponents say help maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

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