News / Middle East

Obama Ponders Best Timing for Syria Attack

President Barack Obama pauses while speaking at a ceremony in Washington, Aug. 28, 2013.
President Barack Obama pauses while speaking at a ceremony in Washington, Aug. 28, 2013.
Zlatica Hoke
Speculation is rife about the possible timing of U.S. air strikes on Syria, after President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that he is considering a military response to the Syrian army's alleged use of chemical weapons. The administration now has to decide on the best time to launch a strike.
Obama, focused on his goal of boosting the U.S. economy and reducing the national debt, has been reluctant to involve the U.S. military in Syria.  But he also had pledged to act if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad crossed a "red line" by using banned weapons in the war against the opposition.  
Political analyst Ilan Berman of the American Foreign Policy Council says there are reasons for immediate action, but also reasons for a delay. He said the Obama administration avoided letting the United States act on its own against the forces of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.  
"I think here, too, there is going to be a desire on the part of the Obama administration to make sure that it is not left to go it alone if it does move against Syria, to marshal support from the European states, in particular from the U.K. (Britain), France and Germany to make sure that if there is military action against Syria, it's not American, but it's allied action," Berman said.
Retired U.S. Air Force officer Sam Gardiner told Alhurra TV that coalition building efforts have stalled, but that the preparations for a strike are going on. 
"U.S. forces are in place ready to conduct a strike at any minute," he said.  "The British have flown six fighter aircraft to Cyprus and they are in place. The only thing that is not in place is a coalition."
A U.N. investigation team has yet to publish a report on its findings from the field in Syria, but the Obama administration says it has concrete evidence that the Syrian government used the banned weapons.  U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also has said the military is ready to go into action at any moment.  
To some observers, like Jeffrey White at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, this means a U.S. military strike is imminent.  
"It could come pretty quickly.  It could be tonight," noted White. "There are some people who are talking about it - that it might be as early as tonight, but that doesn't allow for the U.N. inspectors to get out of the Damascus area, which is going to be the focal point probably for the attacks. So I am thinking [that it is going to happen] more likely over the weekend."
The United States said it is planning a surgical attack that is not aimed at changing the regime in Syria. According to President Obama, even a limited attack will send a message to the Assad government that it will be held accountable for breaking international laws.
Syrian President Assad said Thursday Damascus will retaliate for any foreign attack, sparking fear of a chemical weapons attack on Israel, Turkey, Jordan and others.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: kezaala suudi from: uganda
August 30, 2013 9:35 AM
Syria should be attacked for violating international norms

by: Glenn Smith from: New Orleans
August 30, 2013 7:20 AM
Given that our country is now seen to be acting in a most independent and reckless manner, what if one of our Tomahawk missiles goes astray and hits a residential neighborhood? This will mark the end of our moral authority on the world stage.

by: Jackson H from: California
August 30, 2013 6:58 AM
On behalf of the American people; STAY OUT OF SYRIA!

by: Bearman from: U.S.A.
August 30, 2013 6:51 AM
In selecting a time for an attack on Syria, choose the "none of the above" option. This administration has made our country a laughing stock around the world. Our most steadfast supporters have abandoned us. To attack just because we can, does not mean that we should.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs