February 22, 2014 |
BEIRUT - The United Nations on Saturday called for improved humanitarian access for millions of needy Syrians as Syrian government forces pounded rebel positions and the latest car bomb apparently linked to the civil war exploded in neighboring Lebanon. The U.N. Security Council resolution, passed unanimously in New York, demanded that "all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, promptly allow rapid, safe and unhindered access" for humanitarian assistance, including aid across conflict zones and via international borders.
February 18, 2014 |
President Obama has three significant Middle East diplomatic initiatives underway, treating, respectively, Iran's nuclear weapons program; Syria's deadly, exhausting conflict; and the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Into these negotiations, Obama and his administration have poured enormous amounts of American prestige, time and effort. Although rarely considered collectively, these three efforts constitute a significant strategic package for a White House that all too often hardly bothers with foreign policy.
February 15, 2014 |
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - President Obama is weighing a "wide range of policy tools and options" for stepping up pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad to end his government's attacks on civilians and rebel forces, a senior White House official said Saturday. Obama is also looking at ways to counter the rising threat of Islamist extremists in Syria, said the senior advisor, who asked not to be identified while discussing internal deliberations. In his last planned public remarks of the weekend, Obama told reporters Friday that he was looking at options other than military ones.
February 14, 2014 |
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - President Obama flew across the country seeking to soothe the jangled nerves of allies Friday, meeting in the morning with House Democrats worried about reelection and at day's end with a key Middle Eastern leader who sits precariously close to regional conflicts. The day's tour took the president from the eastern shore of Maryland to the drought-stricken Central Valley to a desert compound in Rancho Mirage - an aberrant schedule for a White House usually regimented in its commitment to generating just one message a day. In his evening meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II at the Sunnylands retreat, Obama spoke about the civil war in Syria, the resurgent violence of Al Qaeda and a proposed framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
February 14, 2014 |
BEIRUT - Syrian peace talks in Geneva were at an impasse Friday as Russian and U.S. diplomats exchanged barbs about the deadlock, while in Syria, government troops appeared set for a new offensive against a rebel stronghold. Negotiators for Russian ally Syria and the U.S.-backed opposition bloc conceded that there had been no progress in the second installment of Geneva peace negotiations, which were frozen in a standoff about the future of Syrian President Bashar Assad. In Syria, government forces were reported to be massing for an assault against the rebel-held town of Yabroud, in the mountainous Qalamoun area near the Lebanese border.
February 13, 2014 |
When Omar Naasir wants a restful night's sleep in Aleppo, he says, he stays as close as possible to the front line of the ongoing clashes between Syrian rebel and government forces. Farther back in his rebel-controlled neighborhood, Naasir says, the risk of death greatly increases because of the barrel bombs and other explosives raining down daily amid the government's bombardment campaign. "Between us and the regime army is sometimes less than 100 meters, so they don't drop barrel bombs there so they don't strike their positions," he said via Skype, referring to the deadly oil drums filled with TNT. "With barrel bombs, there is a feeling of paralysis that is indescribable," said the former peace activist turned rebel.