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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid