The last two months has not been easy for the USA President Barack Obama and its foreign policy as several turbulences in Middle East and most recently in Western Asia as alleged footages and videos surfaced not only on Internet, but on every major media world outlet on alleged use of chemical weapon substances in parts of Syria.
The dilemma is if the USA president will listen to and decide upon UN investigators team possible findings or will accept the military solution to the situation as disturbing unverified images and videos of Syria demands more explanation in the eyes of world public facing another issue in regards to its foreign policy activities.
While on making hard decision, both, the UN investigators and military are in the region.
“U.N. experts collected samples and testimony from Syrian doctors and victims of an alleged chemical weapons attack Monday following a treacherous journey through government and rebel-held territory, where their convoy was hit by snipers”, reports AP on Monday August 26, 2013.
IU.N. team in Syria leaded by Dr. Ake Sellström should start their mission into investigating the incident in the Ghouta area on 21 August involving the alleged use of chemical weapons on Monday, August 26, 2013, U.N. stated today in a statement from the spokeperson of the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki moon.
“The Secretary-General notes the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic affirmed that it will provide the necessary cooperation, including the observance of the cessation of hostilities at the locations related to the incident”, UN statement says of Sunday, August 25.
Moments after U.N. and Syrian State officials confirmed the U.N team on the ground will start investigation U.S, as Wall Street Journal reports in an online article U.S. says it believes Syria used chemical weapons, “rebuffed rebuffed the Assad regime’s offer to provide U.N. inspectors access to the affected areas, saying the move came too late to be credible”.
“If the Syrian government had nothing to hide and wanted to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons in this incident, it would have ceased its attacks on the area and granted immediate access to the U.N. five days ago,” a senior Obama administration official said for Wall Street Journal.
Later on Monday August, 26 2013 the USA Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement with remarks on Syria, telling that what “we saw in Syria last week by any standard it is inexcusable, and despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable”.
According to Secretary Kerry: “In fact, the regime’s belated decision to allow access is too late, and it’s too late to be credible. Today’s reports (August 26, 2013) of an attack on the UN investigators, together with the continued shelling of these very neighborhoods, only further weakens the regime’s credibility.
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) August 26, 2013
The USA administration works actively on exchange of information, consultation with Congressman, discussion and contacts with foreign ministers, among them and Syrian Foreign Minister Muarem. According to State Secretary John Kerry they have more information that will share in the days ahead.
“President Obama has also been in close touch with leaders of our key allies, and the president will be making an informed decision about how to respond to this indiscriminate use of chemical weapons” says Kerry underlying that the videos of Syria with alleged chemical attack are real.
“Anyone who could claim that an attack of this staggering scale could be contrived or fabricated needs to check their conscience and their own moral compass. What is before us today is real, and it is compelling”, says State Secretary John Kerry.
Although, Russian President Vladimir Putin, according the sources of British Prime Minister David Cameron office, claimed in a telephone call with Cameron “no evidence yet that the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons against rebels, Cameron’s office said”, as reported by Turkish Hurryiet Daily News.
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) August 26, 2013
On the ground in Syria, as http://news.yahoo.com publishes Reuters agency article, “U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane arrived in Damascus on Saturday to push for access to the suspected chemical weapons attack site for U.N. inspectors, who are already in Syria to investigate months-old accusations.”
So far Assad’s government has not said whether it will allow access to the site despite being under increasing pressure from the United Nations, Western and Gulf Arab countries and Russia. If confirmed, it would be the world’s deadliest chemical attack in decades, reports Reuters in article Syrian soldiers enter rebel tunnels, find chemical agents: state TV published by Yahoo news on http://news.yahoo.com on Saturday August 24, 2013.
CNN earlier reported that “was disclosed that a fourth U.S. ship armed with cruise missiles has arrived in the eastern Mediterranean Sea”.
Though, the Internet site: http://www.now.com that publishes news of concerned region, circulated the Agency France Press news on the possible meeting of military chiefs of several countries upon invitation of Jordan’s chief of staff “Meshaal Mohamed al-Zaban and General Lloyd Austin, head of Centcom, the US command responsible for 20 countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, said the unidentified official from Jordan’s high command”.
“America’s top military officer General Martin Dempsey will take part, as well as chiefs of staff from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Canada, said the official, cited by state news agency Petra”, says http://www.now.com
Although the final decision what is the best possible solution will be on the USA president Barack Obama.
As an international pressure rises, especially of the military circles, not only in the USA, but as well in most of the European Union countries and some of Syria neighbors, President Barack Obama met Saturday August 24, 2013 “with his national security team to discuss reports of a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government near Damascus this week, a White House official told CNN”.
Further, CNN reports from their source in White House that: “Once we ascertain the facts, the president will make an informed decision about how to respond,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
“We have a range of options available, and we are going to act very deliberately so that we’re making decisions consistent with our national interest as well as our assessment of what can advance our objectives in Syria.”
With complexity and seriousness of situation in Syria any decision to intervene would probably open more questions, rather to give definitive answers and deal with problems that two and a half year of civil war in Syria has been creating.
One issue that could make pressure is condition in prisons and jails for those detained in Syria as opposing Assad’s ruling. New York Times publishes parts of the testimony of those who where jailed and who managed to escape. Online edition of New York Times brings a story of those who either escaped or under the protection of International human right organization, in an article Accounts of Syrian prisons describe a volatile mix of chaos and control. Though, the authors of the article Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad write that the story of the prisoners, could not be confirmed independently, but rather disclose the system of struggle to survive on a daily basis inside the jails.
“Because Syria’s government has not allowed inspections by the International Committee of the Red Cross or other independent groups, it is impossible to know how many people are imprisoned and under what conditions. But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group based in Britain, had tallied 30,000 people jailed as of April, and 200,000 who have cycled through detention facilities during two and a half years of conflict”, writes New York Times.
Another growing concern are children in Syria rebels unites, some of them sent to rebels camps on age of 15 or because their families need financial assistance they receive from the Free Syrian Army. Washington Post has more on this issue.
” It also has prompted unease from U.N. officials, who in an internal report this month warned of growing “recruitment by armed groups, including of under-aged refugees” in Zaatari and across the region, indicating that the rebels may no longer be honoring a pledge to bar fighters younger than 17″, writes Taylor Luck in the Washington Post.
As Washington Post reports in their article on children fighters As Syrian rebels loses mount, teenagers begin feelings ranks: “We are concerned by reports that some groups may be attempting to use Zaatari as a recruitment center, and we are doing everything in our power to make sure it stays a refugee camp and not a military camp,” Andrew Harper, the U.N. refugee agency’s representative in Jordan, said in an interview.
The answer that could came from the USA has been under the eyes of international community who waits on any decision the USA president Barack Obama could make in the following days, considering his previous statements one year ago on “red lines” considering Syrian President Bashar Assad action toward his opponents.
American National Public Radio gives daily reports not only on developing in Syria but as well on action and debates inside the political campus in the USA on the issue. The latest on Saturday, August 24, 2013 where quotes of the President Barack Obama as his opinion presented on CNN’s exclusive interview in the program New Day.
“But the president — who has previously said the use of chemical weapons would be a “red line” Assad should not cross — added that “if the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it.”, writes Mark Memmott, one of the hosts of NPR’s “The Two-Way” news blog the online article: Obama: Time Frame For Possible Action On Syria Has Shortened.
“Do we have the coalition to make it work?” he asked. “You know, those are considerations that we have to take into account.” Obama’s comments came as UNICEF reported that: “with Syria’s war well into its third year, the number of Syrian children forced to flee their homeland as refugees has now reached 1 million.” Another 2 million children “have been internally displaced within Syria,” the aid organization reported Friday, writes Memmot.
In a following of events, “CBS News has learned that the Pentagon is making the initial preparations for a cruise missile attack on Syrian government forces. We say “initial preparations” because such an attack won’t happen until the president gives the green light. And it was clear during an interview on CNN Friday that he is not there yet., reports CBSNews in David Martin’s and Holly Williams’s article U.S. preps for possible cruise missile attack on Syrian gov’t forces”.
President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, sent out a Tweet on Friday, calling what happened “an apparent CW (chemical weapons) attack.” And the commander of U.S. forces in the Mediterranean has ordered Navy warships to move closer to Syria to be ready for a possible cruise missile strike, says CBS.
In order to justify possible decision of the USA President, Barack Obama on Syria, larger and leading media publishers in the world decided to draw a parallel with interventions of NATO or in general international organization in the world crisis like Kosovo, Bosnia, Rwanda Libya.
New York Times explores possibilities Barack Obama to take the lead in supporting for military intervention, as his former American President Bill Clinton stand in support of NATO leaded intervention in Kosovo.
“The argument in 1999 in the case of Kosovo was that there was a grave humanitarian emergency and the international community had the responsibility to act and, if necessary, to do so with force,” said Ivo H. Daalder, a former United States ambassador to NATO who is now the president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, writes Mark Landler and Michel R. Gordon in New York Times article Air War in Kosovo Seen as Precedent in Possible Response to Syria Chemical Attack.
According to the article, “in the case of Syria, Mr. Daalder said, the administration could argue that the use of chemical weapons had created a grave humanitarian emergency and that without a forceful response there would be a danger that the Assad government might use it on a large scale once again. Dennis B. Ross, a former adviser to Mr. Obama on the Middle East, said that if the president wanted to develop a legal justification for acting, “there are lots of ways to do it outside the U.N. context.”
But for BBC’s North America Editor Mark Mardell, Mr. Obam “is likely to insist on going the full UN route to gather the maximum possible support for any action – and that means waiting for the inspector’s report on earlier incidents at the very least”.
“I could be very wrong. The bombers could be in the air by this afternoon. But at the moment all Mr Obama plans for today is a talk about the cost of college education and “a better deal for the middle classes”. I suspect his red line is very thick indeed, writes BBC’s North America Editor”, Mark Mardell.
Inside European Union countries, “French President Francois Hollande and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague have delivered, insisting UN inspectors be granted access to the area and that the issue be raised promptly in the UN Security Council. The Arab League has backed these demands. It’s high time for the United States to join this chorus—and provide the weapons inspectors with all the diplomatic and logistical support they need to conduct a credible investigation”, writes Stewart M. Patrick in an article At stake in Syria: The Chemical Weapons taboo published on the blog The Internationalist on Council of Foreign Relations Internet site. Senior Fellow and Director, Program on International Institutions and Global Governance.
In Turkey, one of Syria neighboring countries, leading establishment calls for concrete steps on international community.
“There are no words left to say. It is time to take concrete steps. The cost of parrying these incidents by diplomatic maneuvers and tricks in the U.N. Security Council and extending over a period of time will be huge. It would destroy the U.N. system and conscience of humanity as well. Therefore, the time has come to take a very concrete step,” Turkish president Abdullah Gül said, as Hurryiet Daily News published in the article Turkish President Gül calls on world to ‘walk the walk’ in Syria, underlying Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan slams the UN for its inaction, proposing an ‘alternative’.
Academics and scholars with backgrounds on Syria crisis also explain on possible outcomes.
“It is in the West’s interest to prevent Assad’s survival by ordering airstrikes on regime targets, pressuring Moscow and Tehran to stop supporting him, and aiding moderate members of the Syrian opposition. Otherwise, the only upside of Syria’s future will be that that it will finally put the lie to the adage ”Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”, writes Andrew J. Tabler, senior Fellow at Washington Institute for Near East Policy who is the author of the Lion’s Den: An eyewitness account of Washington’s Battle with Syria., writes in Foreign Affairs Article The Day After Assad Wins.
With less support in the public for American involvement in the war outside the USA borders, the USA president Barack Obama is rather cautious in regards what the new military intervention could
In an exclusive interview with CNN New Day on Friday August 23, 2013, the USA President Barack Obama said:
“We’re still spending tens of billions of dollars in Afghanistan. I will be ending that war by the end of 2014, but every time I go to Walter Reed and visit wounded troops, and every time I sign a letter for a casualty of that war, I’m reminded that there are costs and we have to take those into account as we try to work within an international framework to do everything we can to see Assad ousted — somebody who’s lost credibility — and to try to restore a sense of a democratic process and stability inside of Egypt”.
Resolving the Syria puzzle is a matter over each political circles in Washington D.C. deal with growing attention in recent period.
A Senior American official talked to the New Yorker journalist Dexter Filkins in March of 2013 revealing various complexities in Syria situation, especially those related to Al Qaeda in its affiliates presence in Syria.
“In Iraq, he said, “They didn’t grow so fast and they didn’t cover all the big cities. In Syria, they do.” Also, he pointed out, there were no chemical weapons in Iraq, as there are in Syria. “We will have a greater risk, the longer this goes on, that the bad guys—they are all bad guys, but I mean terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Islamist extremist groups—will acquire some of these weapons. How do you plan for that? The longer the war goes on, the more the extremists will gain.”, writes Filkins.
Indeed, the longer the war goes on, the greater the threat that it will engulf the entire region, writes Dexter Filkins, a journalist with New Yorker in his article The thin red line, citing high senior American official who is involved in Syria policy.
Syria (21 million of population), has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) or ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), says BBC, underlying that “a report citing Turkish, Arab and Western intelligence agencies put Syria’s stockpile at approximately 1,000 tonnes of chemical weapons, stored in 50 towns and cities”
Possible negative consequences in the region are new refugee crisis in neighboring countries and more uncertainties in fragile Lebanon as two simultaneous explosions happened outside mosques in Tripoli.
“For many Lebanese, the bombings also were seen as the latest evidence that Syria’s bloody civil war — with its dark sectarian overtones — is increasingly drawing in its smaller neighbor”, reports Associated Press from in the article Death tool in Lebanon bombings rises to 47.
The pressure on American administration mostly arrives of the countries of European Continent. A leading newsmagazine in Europe, The Economist in the last two days openly says America must intervene if Bashar Assad “has used chemical weapons on his own people in a big way”.
For those inside the American political and intelligence community it is presumably clear the current American president will not easily decide to lead in as The New Yorker defines “three basic military options: to erect a non fly-zone, to arm the rebels and to try to disable Assad’s chemical weapons”.
With both sides claiming for others they use chemical weapons, Medicine Sans Frontiers, as BBC reports, says “hospitals it supports in Syria treated about 3,600 patients with “neurotoxic symptoms”, of whom 355 have died”. This organization “cannot “scientifically confirm” the use of chemical weapons”, says BBC.
With pressure from European allies and warnings from Iran’s armed forces deputy chief of staff Massoud Jazayer that “there will be harsh consequences for the White House”, as Hurryiet Dailiy News (http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/) reports AFP article, the USA President has no easy decision to make on possible military intervention on targets of Assad in Syria.
After the State Secretary John Kerry remarks on Syria of Monday, August 26, 2013, Washington Post published Kerry’s Syria presser: That was a war speech, saying on their FB account: Secretary of State John Kerry made it clear today that it’s not a question of whether the U.S. will take military action in Syria, but when. http://wapo.st/1dJkp3d
In a opinion in Boston Globe By Farah Stockman Kerry’s Comments were likely a prelude to attack writes: “It’s important to remember that Obama warned in May that the use of chemical weapons would be a “game changer.” If he doesn’t act now, who will believe him when he warns Iran not to develop a nuclear weapon? My prediction is that Obama will conduct a limited strike on a Syrian military target. It will be a big enough response to say he punished Assad, but too small to draw the United States into a long-term conflict. It probably won’t affect the course of Syria’s tragic civil war”.
Possible military intervention in the Syrian civilian conflict, as AP writes: “would essentially pit the U.S. and regional allies Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar in a proxy war against Iran, which is providing weapons to the Syrian government’s counterinsurgency, along with Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese group that also has aided Assad’s forces militarily”.
AP writes that Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mikdad told The Associated Press in an interview in Damascus that such an attack would trigger “chaos in the entire world.”
“If individual countries want to pursue aggressive and adventurous policies, the natural answer … would be that Syria, which has been fighting against terrorism for almost three years, will also defend itself against any international attack,” he added.
Despite mounting evidence that President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on his people, many members of Congress don’t see a role for the United States military in Syria, writes Politico in an article On Hill deep skepticism about Syria entanglement.
In an interview with CNN’s Hala Gorani, Charles Dufler, former UNSCOM Chief Weapons inspector said that obviously International Community strongly need unbiased and credible information.
“They are maybe better information in certain intelligence agencies but those will not have same credibility, as U.N. in terms to international doubts”, stated Dufler talking on what inspectors who were in the area of Muadhamiya today may find and gather in Syria, underlying that inspectors job according the Secreatary General Ban Ki moon mandate is to define if chemical weapon is used or not. It is not their job to make a call who is the party responsible, but the data collected when presented may strongly suggest who the party was.
Most recent alleged chemical attacks that raise concerns happened in the Ghouta area in Syria last week.
Depending on the poll, as NPR, reports “majorities are opposed to U.S. military involvement or even providing war materiel to the Syrian opposition”.
“Obama does at least have support for military action from congressional Republicans like Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee. So that gives him some bipartisan cover. But that doesn’t make the decision any easier for a president who would rather focus on his domestic priorities than a foreign riddle wrapped in an enigma like Syria”, says NPR telling “the present Syrian crisis ranks among the most vexing moments of President Obama’s presidency”.
For Andrew Bacevich who is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, there are three questions for President Obama before he pulls the trigger on Syria. In a article on http://billmoyers.com, Bacevich ask following: “What is the legal basis for military action? Neither Russia nor China is likely to agree to an attack on Syria, so authorization by the U.N. Security Council won’t be forthcoming. Will Obama ask Congress for the authority to act? Or will he, as so many of his recent predecessors have done, employ some dodge to circumvent the Constitution? With what justification?
Stephen Collinson writing for AFP US builds case for Syria strikes published on Yahoo News says:
“Obama has spent months trying to avoid being sucked into a war which has killed at least 100,000 people, after extracting US troops from Iraq, and as he brings them home from Afghanistan. His defenders point out he is hardly a reluctant commander-in-chief: He leads a ruthless drone war worldwide and risked his presidency to kill Osama bin Laden. But his instincts are to avoid new foreign quagmires and he built his political career on raging against “dumb wars.”
A Syrian campaign would also threaten Obama’s chosen legacy — one of ending wars, not of opening new fronts, concludes Collinson.
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