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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid