News / USA

    White House Syria Appeal Draws Protest, Prayer

    Lebanese, Syrian Christian Maronites pray for peace Syria, in Harisa, Lebanon, Sept. 7, 2013.
    Lebanese, Syrian Christian Maronites pray for peace Syria, in Harisa, Lebanon, Sept. 7, 2013.
    Pamela Dockins
    President Barack Obama and senior officials of his administration are trying hard to broaden domestic and foreign support for a limited military action in Syria, but so far that effort has produced mixed results.
     
    The president spoke to the American people directly Saturday in his weekly address, explaining why he feels it is necessary for the United States to take military action against the Syrian government's alleged chemical weapons attack in August, and asking for support.
     
    Indirectly acknowledging public-opinion surveys that show many ordinary Americans strongly oppose U.S. military action in Syria, Obama said he can understand the public's war-weariness. He pledged that no members of the U.S. military would be sent into Syria under his plan, and put the issue in moral terms:
     
    "We are the United States of America," he said. "We cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we have seen out of Syria."
     
    The president also said a failure to act now could damage U.S. national security. Standing by instead of taking action would increase the risk, he said, "that chemical weapons could be used again; that they would fall into the hands of terrorists who might use them against us, and it would send a horrible signal to other nations that there would be no consequences for their use of these weapons."
     
    Anti-war protesters were outside the White House Saturday, shouting “Obama, hands off Syria!"

    Watch President Obama's weekly address:


    President Obama is preparing a televised address to the nation on Syria late Tuesday, and White House officials say he is planning a marathon round of interviews with at least six television networks on Monday, all slated for evening broadcast.
     
    G20 leadership split
     
    The president has just returned home from the Group of 20 economic summit in Russia, where the crisis in Syria dominated many of the national leaders' private discussions. Russian President Vladimir Putin remains strongly opposed to any Western raid against Syria, in part because he contends any illegal chemical weapons used against civilians in Syria were triggered by rebels, not by government forces supporting President Bashar al-Assad.

    Story continues below video, 'World Powers Split Over US Plan':
    World Powers Split Over US Plan to Punish Syriai
    X
    September 07, 2013 4:24 AM
    The Group of 20 split down the middle Friday on the question of supporting the United States in punishing Syria’s government for apparently gassing civilians two weeks ago in Damascus. VOA's James Brooke reports that as the G-20 meeting ended in St. Petersburg, the White House released a statement endorsed by U.S. President Barack Obama and 10 other world leaders.

    Putin claims a majority of national leaders at the St. Petersburg summit agreed with him, but the United States issued a statement co-signed by 10 nations calling for a "strong international response" to the attack on Syria.
     
    The statement did not specify what that response should be.

    Pope leads peace prayers
     
    Earlier in the week, Pope Francis wrote to leaders of the G20 summit, urging them to abandon pursuit of a military solution in Syria.
     
    Answering a call by Pope Francis, Christians in many parts of the world prayed for peace in Syria Saturday. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church, addressing tens of thousands of people at the Vatican, said "war always marks the failure of peace" and is a "defeat for humanity." He asked the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray for peace and reconciliation in Syria and throughout the world.
     
    Syrian Christians gathered at their cathedral in Damascus, where an archbishop of the Syrian Orthodox patriarchate said followers of all religious doctrines were, on this day, "all of one heart — all the Syrians — in the churches and mosques of our different doctrines," for peace.
     
    Kerry campaigns for EU support
     
    The American Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, visited Lithuania and France Saturday on a mission to broaden European support for an attack.
     
    In Vilnius, where European foreign ministers met, Kerry heard the European Union's foreign-policy chief, Catherine Ashton, call for a "clear and strong response" to the Syrian chemical-weapons attack, but under the auspices of the United Nations.
     
    Kerry later appeared in Paris together with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. The top American diplomat, who has been one of the most outspoken members of Obama's inner circle in calling for action against Syria, acknowledged some European countries remain reluctant to back military action, but he added there is overwhelming support for holding the Syrian regime accountable for its purported use of chemical weapons.
     
    "This is growing, not receding, in terms of the global sense of outrage of what’s happened,” he said.
     
    Some nations have expressed a desire to wait until a report by a U.N. chemical weapons team that visited the site of the alleged attack to collect evidence. French President Francois Hollande said the U.N. team is expected to present its report by the end of next week.
     
    Experts debate strike
     
    Jeffrey Mankoff, an expert on Russia and Eurasia from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, appeared on VOA's weekly program Encounter, where he expressed skepticism about prospects for a U.S. strike against Syria.
     
    "It is clear that the United States has very little international support in seeking to carry this out," Mankoff said.
     
    Analyst Mark Jacobson of the German Marshall Fund policy group, also on Encounter, disagreed.
     
    "I personally think that the United States has no choice but to respond militarily," he said.
     
    Jacobson said the U.S. has an obligation to enforce norms against poisoning civilians and a use of chemical weapons.
     
    Congressional vote
     
    In additional to President Obama's speeches and appearances in the coming days, members of his administration have been intensively lobbying members of the House of Representatives and Senate, who are expected to vote sometime after Tuesday on resolutions authorizing the president to take action against Syria.
     
    A key Senate panel voted on Wednesday in favor of action.
     
    U.S. officials say they have evidence that more than 1,400 people were killed by poison gas in an attack on August 21 in areas on the fringe of Damascus populated by supporters of the opposition.

    VOA White House Correspondent Kent Klein contributed to this report. Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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    by: traditionalhealer from: South Africa
    September 09, 2013 11:51 AM
    this war will not solve the problems in the middle east

    by: Anonymous
    September 08, 2013 8:56 AM
    Assad most definately would use chemicals. Which is why he was warned from the beginning. Trying to blame the Opposition as "Bad Guys" using chemicals. I don't think anyone defending assad has any brains that he most definately is a criminal.

    You are the "Bad Guy" bashar al assad. Even before chemical weapons came in to play you were bombarding civilian neighborhoods, destroying a good percentage of every populated place in Syria. You killed more civilians than anyone in Syria. You have no respect for human life, or personal property, or childrens future, or growth of a united Syria. You are a disgrace to the country and should be held fully accountable for any crimes by the New Syrian Judical System. Same goes for anyone else.

    by: Jim Harris from: Texas
    September 08, 2013 7:13 AM
    As terrible as the Syrian gas attack may have been, it is not the US war and we are not the world police. Too long has the US intervened in the affairs of other nations. It is time for the people of Syria to step up and take a stand if they are so inclined. My guess is they feel Assad is no worse than the people who are trying to overthrow him.

    by: pirooz from: iran
    September 08, 2013 6:34 AM
    i really request the us army chief and other influential forces to attack on syria , not only for taking the bashar asad accountable for his attack but becouse of terrible consequences of not attacking on syria by hezbollah millitant group and iran regime, you the us goverment by not taking action on syria will give a big confidence to all the dictatorship regimes and millitant group in the region and i recommend you that never expect iranian regime to stops its nuclear ambitions so if we think deeply we reach the reason that there is no way other than an attack on syria.

    by: Mohamed Mohsen from: Egypt
    September 08, 2013 6:15 AM
    Good people of USA, help to Egypt is appreciated since the 70s but few years ago seems that your National Security people decided to help some Islamic Movement like Moslem Brotherhood which they took over the country and invited back all Radicalized groups and militants to our country, they turn out to be BAD People and we are trying our best to contain them as they are killers and bombers and all sorts of bad things which US is asking us to forgive them!!. Now in Syria with Assad a Devil no doubt Mr. Obama wants to strike Syria, now who will benefit, the Monstrous Devils of Radical groups and Al Qaeda. So something is wrong here it seems to me that there is a bad plan, or the INTEL is so wrong. Which one I dont know.

    by: Haron from: Afghanistan
    September 08, 2013 4:26 AM
    if every side is honest on Syria. they must start their funds for a renew Syria. for example. if United States are honest for Syria people. so they must help Syria by 1 billion $, China could send 1.5 billion $, Russia could send 2 billion $ and Iran could send 5 million $ to build all infrastructure of Syria where destroyed in 2 and half years war.
    if west are not honest on these conclusion. this mean that west cannot feed their people instead of war. specially US and means that USA want to busy their people in war compound rather than creating jobs and i don't watch world war three so far in this conflict of war with Syria by West.

    by: bob from: bordentown NJ
    September 08, 2013 1:16 AM
    I do not have much faith in our government anymore. Our government doesn't represent our citizen interests , our government will war for corporations if oil profits look possible down the road.

    by: James from: USA
    September 08, 2013 1:11 AM
    I have a few questions for our government. It is well known that in El Paso, Texas the DOD incinerated chemical weapons in the ASARCO smelter contaminating the air, ground and causing cancer in hundreds if not thousands of people. The same occurred in East Helena, MT. first as a lead smelting plant to get lead for bullets, then, as an incinerator for weapons. The proof is in the the EPAs nonvalent iron barrier placed in the down stream position from the old smelter. The Kingston ash slide contaminated hundreds of miles of rivers, also a federally funded project. What credibility can the US government possibly have in this matter after shamelessly contaminating it's own people in so many places at so many levels with no real effort to clean anything up? We have enough problems at home why is Obama trying to start a war over credibility? Does any educated individual actually buy into this rhetoric? Enough already we are not that dumb, wait for the reports, and do an investigation. If there is a problem use the International court. This is foolishness.

    by: Peter Hinds from: USA
    September 08, 2013 12:09 AM
    “LESS WE FORGET”

    Vietnam War 1964 to 1975

    August 7, 1964 Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin resolution by a 504-2 vote, In response to a Aug. 2nd and Aug 4th attack by North Vietnamese torpedo boats, on a US. Destroyers in Gulf of Tonkin which authorized Pres. Johnson to take all necessary measures to win in Vietnam, the Aug 4 attack was reported by the National Security Agency and was later proven false.

    Sen.Wayne Morse (1900-1974) of Oregon and Sen.Ernest Gruening (1887-1974) of Alaska, provided the only “No Votes”.

    The cost of this Intelligence failure and lie !

    58,228 Americans were Killed / 303,704 Wounded / 1,350 Missing in action
    5 million Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians Died and counting.
    including 3 million civilian dead

    Iraq War

    George Bush – Dick Cheney and Weapons of mass Destruction.
    The cost of this Intelligence failure and lie !

    Americans 4,500 Dead 33,000 wounded and counting

    Iraqis

    176,000–189,000 Deaths and Counting, including 134,000 Civilians Dead from March 2003 to February 2013

    A Great War leaves a country with three Armies an Army of Mourners an Army of Cripples and a Army of Thieves. Wars are levied by those who Never Fight in them, but watch them from Seats of Privilege and Comfort and Fought by those who will find little reward in the outcome but Mangled bodies, Shattered minds and Death.

    Peter Hinds

    vietnamvets1969@hotmail.com

    by: Anonymous
    September 07, 2013 11:31 PM
    Assad was a criminal long before chemicals came in to play by using conventional weapons in residential areas, killing more than tens of thousands of family members, and some entire families. He has murdered more innocent Syrians than anyone else in the war there. Nobody likes war but assad must be stopped at all costs. Seeing the videos on both sides are disgusting however, seeing his planes drop bombs on innocent civilians buildings and homes is worse. Those planes are supposed to be Syrian Army planes protecting the people. Dropping bombs all over Syria, destroying it, and killing more civilians than bad guys, is a criminal act, this is why many are defecting and have already defected (thousands). If assads own people can't stop him from killing innocent civilians than the world should intervene, whatever it takes.
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