News / Middle East

Obama: World Cannot Permit Use of Chemical Weapons

President Barack Obama listens to Jordan's King Abdullah II during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, April 26, 2013.
President Barack Obama listens to Jordan's King Abdullah II during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, April 26, 2013.
President Barack Obama says the world cannot stand by and permit any use of chemical weapons, and says the United States will work with international partners to vigorously investigate evidence in hand so far.  

In remarks before his meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah, Obama said the U.S. now has "some evidence" with "varying degrees of confidence" that chemical weapons have been used in Syria.

He said a range of questions remain about how and when such weapons may have been used.  The U.S. will pursue a vigorous investigation in consultation with partners and the United Nations, moving as effectively and quickly as possible.

Obama said the U.S. and partners must act prudently and make assessments deliberately, but said the world cannot stand by and permit the use of chemical weapons.

"All of us, not just in the United States but around the world, recognize how we cannot stand by and permit the systematic use of weapons like chemical weapons on civilian populations," he said.

Obama mentioned the danger of chemical weapons falling into the hands terrorists, which he said adds increased urgency to the Syrian situation.

As to whether his "red line" has been crossed, he said his message has been clear.

"For the Syrian government to utilize chemical weapons on its people, crosses a line that will change my calculus, and how the United States approaches these issues," he said.

At the same time, Obama said preliminary evidence is "not an on or off switch" for potential action, but an ongoing challenge for the U.S. and international community which must gather further evidence.

Earlier, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama is keeping all options on the table, including military force, while the investigation into chemical weapons use proceeds to firmly establish that a 'red line' has been crossed.

The two leaders also discussed pressures on Jordan of supporting a huge influx of refugees from Syria, and King Abdullah underscored concerns about fragmentation of Syria and the rise of extremist groups.

"We are now seeing the surge of the second threat of militant terrorist organizations that  have risen over the past several months," said King Abdullah.

In his remarks, President Obama said again that President Bashar al-Assad has "lost legitimacy" adding that a multi-sectarian political solution to the conflict is required, but hard to accomplish.

Bringing an end to the Syrian conflict, he said, is a long-term proposition that will not be solved easily overnight.

  • Smoke rises from what activists said was a missile fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter jet loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Deraa, Syria, April 26, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image shows anti-Syrian regime protesters holding banners and waving the Syrian revolutionary flags, Aleppo, Syria, April 26, 2013. (Aleppo Media Center AMC)
  • Civilians try to extinguish a fire following shelling activists blamed on forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, Deraa, April 25, 2013.
  • People walk next to a vehicle damaged by what residents say was a missile fired by Syrian rebels in the town of Hermel in Bekaa, April 24, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image shows members of the free Syrian Army preparing their weapons, in al-Amerieh, Aleppo, Syria, April 25, 2013. (Aleppo Media Center AMC)
  • This citizen journalism image shows a wounded Syrian man holding his injured son after an air raid on the northwestern town of Saraqeb in the province of Idlib, Syria, April 25, 2013. (Edlib News Network ENN)

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by: kanaikaalirumporai
April 27, 2013 6:10 AM
If this of Mr Obama is anything genuine, them where was he four years ago this time when one of US's beloved friend and ally, the barbarous regime in Sri Lanka employed a far worse chemical agent that not only kills by suffocation but disintegrate the victim's body afterwards against a whole population? His so called supreme spy-outfits would have found out with ample evidence about this to stand the scrutiny of any court, but he chose to give culprits red carpet welcomes and employ empty and impotent UNHRC resolutions and use the opportunity for bargain talks with the regime. This could be the thinking behind the reluctence to act here too. Once Assad comes out with good suggestions, everything is done!

by: Bakhtiar from: KRG- Iraq
April 27, 2013 5:58 AM
What i do believe current international relations arrangements does not allow any collective response to Syrian crises. International system recognized by anarchical system and international governmental organizations such UN have been paralyzed because of fierce battle of balance of power as defensive realists described it.

by: Invisible Lines
April 27, 2013 12:44 AM
When does the loss of so many lives equate to a RED LINE,
which then results in action against certain governments?

Invisible lines must have existed in Somalia, Rwanda, Congo, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and more recently Zimbabwe, where so many lives were lost.

by: Igor from: Russia
April 27, 2013 12:06 AM
During the Vietnam war, the USA used Orange Agent in large scale - a kind of chemical weapon. Millions of Vietnamese have been killed or become invalid by that weapon. Now the USA is trying to deny that it is a kind of weapon to evade its responsibilites and is playing the role of a policemman to punish those it lays the blame at. What a hypocrite!

by: Dr Sam
April 26, 2013 3:15 PM
Barbed comments dont always help people understand the situation and portrays many good British citizens in a bad light.
Russia, China and several other Eastern Bloc countries sell weapons, apart from landmines and ground to air missiles as well as supplying them to "Liberation Movments or Revolutionary Groups". Rhodesia was a classic point, where such weaponry was supplied in large quantities to these Liberation Movements. Many Countries have endured painful
times and sadly continue to do so, unless the West stands fast on humanitarian rights.

by: Lidice82 from: Czech Republic
April 26, 2013 2:34 PM
Love from our hearts to US/Israel from the 82 silent voices of Lidice

by: ZD98 from: Czech Republic
April 26, 2013 2:24 PM
I love reading the comments here... concerning Britain... remember the ultimate British betrayal? "Czechoslovakia - that distant land of which we know nothing..." you may not remember... but we can not forget!!!

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
April 26, 2013 1:58 PM
The Nigerian and African news watchers are very familiar with George Owell's Animal Farm type of politics, but I don't know if same applies elsewhere, including Europe and USA. If it does, they would not have to bother so much about the kind of goal-shifting politics of 'Red lines' that chemical weapon use would draw. First USA said it would be a game changer. Now it has been used, and the White House is saying "the Syrian government has used sarin gas on a small scale". Therefore no action?

What have you said now that has not been said earlier? What political solution are seeking now that has not been sought earlier? USA should not be like North Korea in saying things it does not mean. A red line is a red line, then what next? That's all everyone is waiting to hear. Or is it today that you realise that the western stand on the resolution of the Syrian crisis is going to favour militancy and aggravate situations out there, especially for Israel? Presidents below 50yrs of age play dangerous games with diplomacy. They think you only have to say it, but they do not know what next.

by: Dr. Samantha Holyfield from: UCSC
April 26, 2013 11:47 AM
BND, here is something to think about which might give you a better conceptual approach... Britain gets a substantial discount on Oil purchases, the lowest rates in Europe... they would do anything to facilitate the purchase of cheap oil - sell weapons to known terrorist rogue States like Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya... foment unrest in Russia, China, Syria, Bahrain, Kuwait... prostitute their own Banking systems to manipulate the American and European Banks... the list of their depravity is endless... there is only one Nation that sees them as they truly are in their ugly and natural dimensions... despite decades of covert antisemitism innuendo and insinuation and attempts at delegitimization... and that is Israel. Believe it or not... it is true.

Now, the Oil they get so cheaply is not used to propel forward their flagging economy... no, they use it to milk their own citizens at the highest rates in Europe... making their citizens the biggest dupes in Europe.
Contrary to our provincial American perceptions, the British citizenry are the biggest idiots in Europe. forget the nice British accent that we all like... it masks a fundamental almost neurological stupidity and factual imbecility crude and uncouth servility...

by: BND from: Germany
April 26, 2013 10:16 AM
I would plead with anyone here who knows to explain to me why Britain has been trying so hard for the passed two years to remove Assad from power? We all know that they can't do it directly... but they can persuade (or try to manipulate) the Americans to "ask" the Israelis to decapitate the Syrian regime. The Israelis, like the Russian and the Germans are hesitant because the wisdom of the "plan" is not apparent...

Yes, we are disturbed by Assad use of chemical weapons... but we think he should be encouraged to use it more discretely... and not pay the ultimate price for the use of it... Remember, Syria is the field of the proxy battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia - which in turn supplies oil for Britain... could that be the reason??? after all... the British have done it before... they sold their soul to Qadafy in Libya... remember?

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