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.

    You May Like

    Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 3
     Previous   Next 
    by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
    September 07, 2013 11:31 PM
    I don't care much prayer your pray, We have a job to do here and we must do it. Assad has crossed the red line, and he must pay the price. this man has crossed the international rules and regulations concerning chemical weapons and he should held accountable for his action. We as a people cannot sit there and allow this to happen to the kids of Syria, Mr. Putin and those who opposed military action in Syria, My question to you is where are your conscious? we need to stop these people before it gets to late, cuz they will use it on America and Israel, you mark my word on this date 09/07/13, The problem with Mr. Putin is this he was a kid and he saw America defeated Russia in the cold war, so he has animosity against America. Even the Bush administration, it was the same thing, Mr. Putin opposed President Bush. whether the world likes it or not America is the only empire to reign until Jesus comes. And we will reign supreme. God Bless America, God Bless President Obama

    by: Chuck Shaw from: West Covina, CA
    September 07, 2013 8:24 PM
    Has the credibility of the United States government been damaged? Actually, the loss of credibility of a nation is due to the actions of an unpopular policy or lack of or by actions of an individual or leader of the nation in question. To that point, The Obama administration is asking Americans to buy into an uncertain plan of action that could have serious unintended circumstances, all to “strengthen our nation’s credibility”. However, it is obvious that Obama’s credibility is in question here. Why should this nation be obligated to undertake such a precarious task just because the President mistakenly drew a red line in the sand? It is right to take a stand calling the use of chemical weapons an immoral and heinous act. Americans and the international community agree with the president on that point. The disparity lays in the fact that Obama’s call for a military strike against Syria is not an acceptable or a logical solution. It would seem that Obama has positioned himself as an international judge, jury and executioner. Considering the strong coalition, building in Europe to wait for the UN report and the likelihood that congress will not back the president, one must wonder what and who is really behind this completely zany effort that Obama continues to pursue. During the eight-year war between Iraq and Iran, Saddam Hussein indiscriminately used deadly chemical agents to kill hundreds of Iranian soldiers. He also used these weapons on his own people, the Kurds in Northern Iraq. Where was the outcry back then?




    by: John from: Charlotte, NC
    September 07, 2013 8:20 PM
    Earlier today, John Kerry, the Secretary of State, said that this is our "Munich Moment" -- just to remind everyone, the "Munich Moment" before WWII, was when France and Great Britain sold Czechoslovakia down the river, doomed Poland in the bargain and essentially made WWII a certainty. Well, with what little respect I can muster for Kerry, I would say that a better metaphor is "The Guns of August" -- the series of blunders by incompetent European monarchs that led to WWI -- because as far as I can see it, we have a bunch of incompetent politicos, Kerry, Obama, etc., blundering their way into WWIII.


    by: Scott from: USA
    September 07, 2013 8:13 PM
    I believe more of what coming out of the rear end of a horse then what is coming out of Obama mouth

    by: Steven Dobrowolski
    September 07, 2013 7:59 PM
    Who the heck is he talking to in his lies? Boots will hit the ground, as iran, and syrias allies will ironically not allow people that kill Americans to control there country.

    Go President go. Support the wrong people because of cheap oil from the Saudis. You should be charged at the hague.

    by: carlos lascoutx from: mexico
    September 07, 2013 7:51 PM
    ...if we bomb Syria we'll have to bomb Iran. rather than enter
    that chain of events, let's subject Assad to the rule of Law
    through the UN and the Hague. no more loss of life and pelf.
    Iran will know what to expect. China will think of us as reasonable,
    and Putin that Alpha dog can look at us with adoring eyes.

    by: Eduardo from: albuquerque
    September 07, 2013 6:50 PM
    Putin and China are supporting Syria because they are both dictatorships and are likely to use chemical weapons on their own people so they are no different than and support Assad.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    September 08, 2013 12:24 AM
    Russia already has, the theatre in Moscow crisis. 40 of the attackers were killed by Russian forces, and about 130 hostages died due to adverse reactions to the gas (including nine foreigners) dispensed by they lawful authorities.
    In Response

    by: Artie from: California
    September 07, 2013 8:15 PM
    Putin and China are against military strike of Syria along with majority of the US public and rest of the sane world. Obama is no better than Putin, going against will of its people and illegally collecting information on all of the citizens, forcing Obamacare on everyone, saying that he'll bomb even if Congress votes no on Syria. Forgot about Snowden? Please tell me how different is he from any other dictator?

    by: rowlandx from: Cape Cod
    September 07, 2013 3:57 PM
    As long as it is an "alleged" chemical weapons attack, we should vote no about bombing Syria. We will probably never know who actually used the poison gas, so it will always be "alleged." Obama praised Martin Luther King's life all last week. This week, he's trying to do what MLK would never, ever do: harm innocent people.
    In Response

    by: Plain Mirror Intl from: Plain Planet- Africa
    September 08, 2013 6:40 AM
    Anonymous, please consider also that lives would have been saved long before now if the US never backed the rebels. Those who joined the rebels have been eating and dinning with Assad all these years, if they love Syria as they claim today, why didn't they plot Assad's removal since then and bear the consequences? Those defectors who thought the Syria issue would be like that of Ghadaffi had very wrong calculations. They would also be banned from governance just as it has been implemented in Libya. US support for rebellion has done more harm than good... . Check your references! Here comes the reality of the US foreign poilicing of bullying!
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    September 08, 2013 12:26 AM
    @Steven you are so wrong and uneducated in the matter. In fact there are reports assads troops have started doing this, running like rats, hiding their deadly weapons in civilian populated places as protection of their weapons against the wes.
    In Response

    by: Steven Dobrowolski
    September 07, 2013 8:04 PM
    @anonymous.

    If the rebels..... would stop hiding in schools as they did in Iraq, while shooting americans, this war would have been over long ago. They hide with the residents forcing them to stay. so don't talk about things that you don't know. Stick your head back in the sand and shut up.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    September 07, 2013 5:22 PM
    Assad has been using conventional bombing first as a crime against humanity. He crossed the red line long ago.He has bombed civilian areas for 2.5 yrs killing more civilians than any terrorist orgranization in the middle east. It is for that reason that I feel the Syrian Army should be disabled. Many SAA have been defecting to the FSA since 2,5 yrs ago, it is how it was formed. They refused to take part in bashar al assads orders to kill civilians and destroy the Nation of Syria. If this is what it takes to disable assad from killing the people of Syria, that's great. As long as they go after prime targets assad is using against his people, minimum casulties should result. It would actually save lives.

    by: ali baba from: new york
    September 07, 2013 3:06 PM
    if the congress disapprove us attacking Syria, the story end. It looks that Obama obsesses with the idea and keep lobbying all congress man and woman. did he know those benefit from attack is radical Islam. did you know that radical Islam are responsible for the most attack that many killed. terrorist organization want another safe heaven place to plan and train the mentally brain washed mentally ill to execute future attack. please use a common sense and stop that nonsense

    by: AndrewDouglas from: New York
    September 07, 2013 11:06 AM
    Personally, I would tend to support the president in foreign affairs. But Obama's ambivalence is very unsettling.
    He needs to show his own commitment before counting on mine.
    Comments page of 3
     Previous   Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.