News / USA

Pundits Weigh In: Reaction to Obama's Syria Speech

World Reacts Cautiously to Obama Syria Speechi
X
September 11, 2013 6:40 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama's cautious endorsement of a Russian diplomatic initiative to get Syria to surrender its chemical weapons was met with mixed reaction around the world. Some world leaders back Mr. Obama while others are saying he is not going far enough. VOA's Jeff Seldin reports.
World Reacts Cautiously to Obama Syria Speech
Cecily Hilleary
Today is Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s 48th birthday, but he has more to celebrate today than his age.  Last night, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that Congress would delay its vote on a military strike against Syria and consider Russia’s proposal that Syria hand over its chemical weapons arsenal to the international community. But judging from headlines and editorials across the globe, not everyone is celebrating America’s decision.

Here at home in the U.S. capital, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin calls the decision a “debacle."

“Gone is the demand that Assad ‘must go.’ Gone is any penalty for using chemical weapons. Gone is the demonstration of resolve meant to signal seriousness about chemical weapons. Gone is the notion that we care about the plight of Syrians or that 100,000 dead stir something beyond empty rhetoric. Gone is any deterrent effect to Iran.” 


Marina Ottaway, senior scholar at the the Wilson Center, says that chemical weapons diplomacy is a win for everyone except the Syrians themselves.
 
“All but a couple of thousand of the 100,000 victims of the war so far were killed by conventional weapons. The millions of refugees and internally displaced persons did not move to escape clouds of nerve gas. Unless international diplomacy makes a serious effort to also tackle the conflict between a regime determined to remain in power at all cost and a large section of the population determined to get rid of him although divided about what should come next Syrians will become the victims of the international effort to bring the country’s chemical weapons under control.”

Meanwhile, from London, in an editorial titled, “Obama's Syria Address: Do We Look That Dumb?, The Guardian’s Michael Cohen comments on inconsistencies in Obama's speech: 

“On the one hand, he argues that ‘if fighting spills beyond Syria's borders, these weapons could threaten allies like Turkey, Jordan and Israel’, but then said later that ‘neither Assad nor his allies have any interest in escalation that would lead to his demise. And our ally, Israel, can defend itself with overwhelming force.’ Well, which is it?"


In France, which among U.S. allies has been most supportive of a U.S. strike on Syria, Le Figaro’s Phillipe Gelie criticizes both U.S. and French leaders.


“The art of diplomacy sometimes resembles that of saving face.  With remarkable swiftness, the warlike Barack Obama and [French president] Francois Hollande have seized on the outstretched hand that the Russians have proffered to them.  Who can blame them?  Even if it were eventually to prove less than solid, it could suffice to extricate them from the mire into which they have placed themselves…Obama and Hollande have the opportunity to backtrack with their heads held high.”

Qatar strongly supports the Syrian opposition, so it is not surprising that its media is disappointed with Obama’s latest move.  In an editorial called, “Stop Dithering,” Qatar’s Peninsula online describes Obama as “confused, uncertain, wobbly and timid” on Syria.

“There is no wonder that the president’s latest decision has caused huge disappointment among Arabs and Syrians who have been expecting the president to take a firm step and punish Bashar Al-Assad for crossing not just the red line on chemical weapons, but all lines on everything else…Assad will feel emboldened, and even if he doesn’t use chemical weapons again on his people, he will kill in larger numbers and not rest until every opponent is decimated. The West will continue to fiddle.”
 


Meanwhile, noted political analyst Rami Khouri writes in Lebanon’s Daily Star that despite Obama’s earlier claims that diplomatic solutions had been exhausted, in fact, they were not. 

“The many conflicts playing themselves out in Syria these days essentially mean that four main actors shape the fighting today, and therefore can resolve it politically: Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States. The governments of these four countries must meet and negotiate regularly with the same diligence that they now apply in sending arms to fighters on both sides in Syria.”

And Khouri adds, “…we may be witnessing a historic transition in the United States in which ordinary citizens start to debate their country’s place and role in the world in a sensible, rational and, above all, humble manner."

Former Egyptian Ambassador to Washington Abdel Rauf El-Ridi spoke by phone to Cairo ON TV’s Amani al-Khayat, host of the “Morning” talk show. 

"Syria has always refused to sign the treaty without Israel joining the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Now, Syria breaks that condition. This means it agrees that the international inspectors will have to assume responsibility for searching for chemical weapons."

He added, "That is what Putin is selling the Americans. He [Putin] seizes the opportunity to turn a problem into an advantage. If achieved, the international community will secure an acceptance that has always been far-fetched."

The former ambassador described the Syrian acceptance as "the keyword" of putting an end to what he calls a "dilemma."

"When this happens [Syria signs the convention], Obama will appear to announce to the world in his rhetorical language that the US has made a significant diplomatic achievement that serves the US national, as well as global, security."
 
 
Herb Keinon writes in The Jerusalem Post Online, that Obama’s decision is a mixed blessing.

“The good news is that if Syrian President Bashar Assad honors the deal -- a huge 'if,' considering that Assad is a butcher who has killed tens of thousands of his own people to stay in power -- then a very deadly weapon will be removed from Israel's doorstep. Israel will no longer have to worry about chemical warfare with its bitter enemy to the north...The bad news in the Russian-brokered deal currently under discussion is that Assad remains at the helm. This is bad not only because a man who murdered so many will remain standing to kill another day, but also because Iran will retain a vital strategic ally."


 

In Iran, one of Syria’s closest allies, a Resalat Online editorial by Sa'id Sobhani subtitled, “The Lose-Lose Gamble of Uncle Sam in Damascus," celebrates the American "defeat."

"The United States of America has turned into the all-out loser in the Syrian war...China and Russia are still supporters of the Bashar al-Assad government and are also opposed to any sort of attack on Syrian soil by the White House. While Germany and England, as two of the White House's European allies, have abandoned Obama due to public opinion pressures, the continuation of the support of Damascus by Russia and China has caused fresh defeats for Washington."

China, along with Russia, has staunchly opposed a strike in Syria.  China's official Xinhua website says Obama’s move heralds changing times.

“The sharp turn from military action to multilateral diplomacy signifies the changing times in which Americans are ready to look inward.

Obama surprised many when he decided to seek Congressional approval for his planned strike to punish Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons, as it reversed decades of precedents in which the decision for overseas military ventures remained a presidential prerogative.

But the political climate in the United States is fast changing, and the public are weary from years of military interventions in distant lands and the state of perpetual war they bring, including thousands of American soldiers killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

You May Like

Sambisa Forest Stands Between Nigeria, Victory Over Boko Haram

Military takes back nearly all towns, villages in northeast, except for massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states More

Islamic State Recruiting Stokes Fears for Parents in Georgia

Chechens are a notable part of Islamic State's gains in Syria and Iraq, and analysts fear what might happen if those fighters return to the Caucasus More

Yarmouk Camp Becomes Distant Memory for Palestinian Diaspora

Once thriving capital of Palestinian diaspora, after siege by Syrian government forces and Islamic State group, camp becomes 'deepest circle of hell' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bhim Niroula from: UK
September 11, 2013 3:46 PM
More than hundred thousand people are killed already in Syria.
If there is any military attack from USA to Syria, there could be another hundred thousand deaths. The decision made by president of the United states Barak Obama seems to be the most wise decision in comparison to his predecessors, The Bush senior,The Bush junior and Mr Clinton.

If the goal of this military intervention is simply to deter Mr Basar Al Assad,from using these deadly chemical weapons best idea is to destroy all of his chemical weapons and verify him continuously to prevent from making new Chemical weapon.

The greatest man of the Earth Nobel peace Prize winner, Mr Obama has done the best decision.


Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'i
X
Sharon Behn
April 21, 2015 9:18 PM
A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten. Sharon Behn reports on the politics of the word genocide on the 100th anniversary of the events.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video German Program Helps Migrants Overcome Traumatic Experience at Sea

Migrants fleeing poverty and violence in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia risk life and limb to reach safety in Europe. Those who have made it to European shores are traumatized by the experience. A program in Germany helps survivors overcome the trauma by giving a new perspective to their catastrophic experience. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs