News / Middle East

    Obama: No Decision Yet on Syria Response

    U.S. President Barack Obama answers questions during an interview in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington (file photo).U.S. President Barack Obama answers questions during an interview in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington (file photo).
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    U.S. President Barack Obama answers questions during an interview in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington (file photo).
    U.S. President Barack Obama answers questions during an interview in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington (file photo).
    U.S. President Barack Obama says he has not yet made a decision about how to respond to what the United States sees as the use of chemical weapons in Syria, but he says that Washington has concluded that Syria's government carried out the attacks. 
     
    In an interview with the Public Broadcasting Service late Wednesday, Obama said he continues to have extensive discussions with his national security team and has received options from the military.
     
    He said the U.S. has concluded that the government of President Bashar al-Assad on August 21 carried out an attack in a Damascus suburb, killing hundreds of people.
     
    The president said the violation of an international norm against use of chemical weapons, in a volatile region, makes it necessary to respond.
     
    "We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out and if that is so, then there need to be international consequences, so we are consulting with our allies, we are consulting with the international community.  I have no interest in any kind of open-ended conflict in Syria, but we do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on weapons like chemical weapons that could threaten us, they are held accountable," said Obama.
     
    The U.S. president was asked what a military strike, even a limited one, would accomplish.
     
    He said that while it would not solve the problems in Syria, it would send a strong signal to the regime in Damascus.
     
    "I think it's important that if in fact we make a choice to have repercussions for the use of chemical weapons, then the Assad regime which is involved in a civil war, trying to protect itself, will have received a pretty strong signal that in fact it better not do it again."
     
    Obama reiterated U.S. readiness to work with anyone, including Syria's main ally Russia, toward a political transition and bring parties together to resolve the conflict.
     
    The president, however, said Syria must understand that it cannot break international norms and standards of decency and create a situation in which U.S. national interests are affected.
     
    Obama referred to the regional impact from the Syrian conflict, potential threats to U.S. allies and partners such as Turkey, as well as Israel and Jordan, and U.S. bases in the region.
     
    The United States, he said, cannot permit a "breach of the non-proliferation norm" that could allow chemical weapons to fall into the wrong hands.

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    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    August 29, 2013 12:46 PM
    Look at this: "I think it's important that if in fact we make a choice to have repercussions for the use of chemical weapons, then the Assad regime…, will have received a pretty strong signal that in fact it better not do it again." What is this supposed to mean? What message is it supposed to pass to Assad, to the opposition whom he’s killed in their numbers, to the world that is watching the leadership of the USA to give it direction? No Mr. President, you seem to get it wrong. It seems you are coming from the wrong direction. Why do murder or other dangerous offences suspects, have to be handcuffed? If you give Mr. Assad this much freedom and space to operate, how many more will he kill before he is captured?

    What if he decides to send one cannon or canister of the poison gas to the nearby US/UN military camp in the region? What if he decides to send one to Israel, Jordan, Turkey or Saudi Arabia in his last ditch suicide mission? No Mr. President, it is not right to have a madman moving freely among unarmed people within a volatile region like Syria’s neighborhood, the Middle East. But why does the president of USA have to take decades to come up with decisions of this kind but will make a split second decision to approve certain inhuman and social ills in the name of freedoms and liberty?

    The decision to stop Assad will not stop at firing a few warning shots but will in fact ensure that he has no more access to arms and power with which to kill more people. By his personal decision to use the poison gas in violation of norms, Assad has chosen to face the consequences – if captured. He has chosen to kiss victory in the war bye. Anything short of removing Assad, stopping the civil war in Syria, and providing a level playing ground for all parties in the country to vie for positions in an election with equal opportunities to all stakeholders, is a failed mission.

    by: Ben
    August 29, 2013 7:17 AM
    I`m sure that the "leader from behind" will never attack Syria alone.

    by: Mark from: California
    August 29, 2013 6:32 AM
    There is a remote but plausible chance the gassings might have been funded by the very folks who initially validated the events. I say this with deep misgivings, I do not know personally.

    But if the gassings were used to validate eliciting "a return fire" by the US, sure to elicit response from Iran to Israel and from Russia to who knows where, the mess might be intended to force the US to get involved in tangling with Iran ( complicated by the truly evil Russians / Putin ), when for US interests, this is hardly justified independently of the Syrian mess.

    None of this is obvious, but certain foreign covert ops hardly leave fingerprints. If it turns out years later we find validation of my speculation, and we thought a purportedly innocuous remote launch of cruise missiles to take out parts of the Syrian military, catalyzed a massive conflagration ( ie to less thoughtfully antagonize Russia and Iran ) and resulted in something tending towards the start of a tragic massive regional war ( that did not end with the sterile likely cruise missile launches ), that would be a needless tragedy of orders of magnitude larger loss of life than the few folks ( tragedy in of itself ) who were gassed.

    I would not put it past the foreign parties unnamed, to try this and I say this with heavy heart since I am of related ethnic religious background, but the threat of Iran to an unnamed nation, might be used to deceptively rationalize paying for the limited Syrian gassings by the foreign entitiy. Unthinkable, unconscionable, devious and thoughtless if this were the case. ( I do not know it just smells too fishy )

    Obama is a wise and thoughtful president, truly and patriotic like no tomorrow. Sadly there might be a chance this Syrian situation is of manipulation on a level seemingly innocuous, but devilish beyond comprehension. I hope none of this is the case, I worry the obvious might be ignored.

    Pray this passes without incident, pray we do not precipitate a possibly needless conflagration easy to spiral out of control. Pray hard. Pray for us all...Pray Obama uses his brilliant wisdom and foresight to a level he truly knows he really does excel at often amazingly.

    by: oldlamb from: Guanzhou
    August 29, 2013 2:45 AM
    The lie of Iraqi style is rising now.U.S. government lied that the weapons of mass destructions consisted in Iraq before Irag war.
    In the Arab spring,Jewish are the only winner,American government is the toy that Jewish manipulate the world.

    by: TonyBellchambers from: London UK
    August 29, 2013 12:34 AM
    "President Barack Obama is weighing a limited response that focuses on punishing the Syrian government for violating international agreements that bar the use of chemical weapons"

    Similar to the response that punished Israel for using banned white phosphorus against a civilian population in Gaza in 2008 in which over 300 children were killed?

    by: Monchan from: Japan
    August 28, 2013 11:33 PM
    It seems to be very strange that the US will eventually help Al Qaeda in terms of attacking the Shiite. The Western countries have kicked out many ‘dictators’, such as Saddam, Gadhafi, Mubarak, Morsi, and now Assad, however, no democratic countries have come into being among them even now. On the contrary, terror and criminals are consequently spreading to other regions, because of the Westerns’ interventions. Before blaming for Assad administration about chemical weapon, Obama should reflect on himself about the heavy usage of drone strikes without any trials especially on innocent and collateral people.

    by: Markt
    August 28, 2013 9:44 PM
    Once again, we are trying to impose Western standards and norms of decency on a culture that abides by an entirely different set of norms and standards of decency. Whatever view we place on the use of chemical weapons, it is not the view of some cultures intent on doing everything at their disposal to protect themselves, as Syria has repeatedly maintained it is doing.
    We made this mistake 12 years ago, let us not make this mistake again. Whatever the U.N. decides is appropriate, even if it is not what we think it should be, it should be a decision we abide by, no matter how difficult a pill it is for us to swallow.
    We cannot, we should not, take matters into our own hands this time. We had our own period of civil war that lasted for four bloody years. We would have been greatly resentful if any other nation had tried to intervene on what we considered our problem to solve. And our Civil War cost this country over 600,000 lives. I've said it before, it is not our business to dictate what other countries do in their domestic difficulties. This is a matter for the Syrians to work out, and a decision of the United Nations to decide what is appropriate to do regarding those who use chemical weapons against its own people.

    by: henry northwood from: Canada
    August 28, 2013 9:40 PM
    the logic behind the words should not come from a gentlemen mouth, and much like from a rogue mouth.

    we donot need proof and truth, if needed, any faked one is OK, from the Gulf of Tonkin Incident to iraq, now to syria.

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