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

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

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