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Obama: War in Syria will not end before I leave office

In an interview with Saudi TV, Barack Obama said the war in Syria would not likely end before he leaves office in early 2017. He also affirmed his belief that there would be no "military solution" to the conflict.

Speaking with Saudi television broadcaster Al-Arabiya on Friday, US President Barack Obama covered a wide range of topics including security cooperation with Gulf allies, Iran and the conflict in Syria. He spoke after a

summit with Gulf allies

at his Camp David retreat.

"The situation in Syria is heartbreaking but it's extremely complex" Obama said.

When asked if the conflict might be resolved before he ends his second term, Obama said "probably not."

"You have a civil war in a country that arises out of longstanding grievances. It was not something that was triggered by the United States and it was not something that could have been stopped by the United States."

Obama emphasized that settling the conflict would require the cooperation of Gulf allies and other regional nations such as Turkey, but that "a military solution is not going to be the solution." The Syrian war has left more than 220,000 people dead.

Seeks to soothe on Iran

Obama also sought to reassure Gulf states anxious over U.S.-led efforts to reach a nuclear deal with Iran, and said that Tehran would have to "re-earn the trust of the international community" by accepting close monitoring of its nuclear work.

"The alternative is not to have any idea what is taking place inside of Iran and that is, I think, a much more dangerous situation for everyone in the region," said the US president.

Obama reiterated Washington’s commitment to the region, saying the US military would help Gulf Arab states defend against any conventional armed threat, such as Iraq's1990 invasion of Kuwait.

When it came to non-traditional threats, he said the US would work with Gulf Arab states to improve their own special forces, intelligence and capability to stop weapons smuggling.

av/jr (AFP, Reuters)

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