News / Middle East

Syria Moves Put 'Red Lines' in Question

Syria Moves Put 'Red Lines' in Questioni
X
September 19, 2013 4:52 PM
Much has been said and written about ‘red lines,’ since Syria allegedly crossed one last month that U.S. President Barack Obama had emphasized a year earlier. Expected U.S. airstrikes did not follow, and now experts wonder whether other international ‘red lines’ will be respected, notably the one on Iran and nuclear weapons. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
TEXT SIZE - +
Al Pessin
— Much has been said and written about "red lines," since Syria allegedly crossed one last month that U.S. President Barack Obama had emphasized a year earlier.  Expected U.S. airstrikes did not follow, and now experts wonder whether other international "red lines" will be respected, notably the one on Iran and nuclear weapons. 

Iran’s new president heads to New York next week for the U.N. General Assembly, where many hope for a new start in the effort to ensure that his country does not build a nuclear weapon.  In recent days, President Hassan Rouhani has exchanged conciliatory letters with President Obama, ordered the release of 11 political prisoners and said Iran will never become a nuclear power.

But the international community wants to keep the pressure on Iran, through sanctions and threats of force.  And since President Obama decided not to bomb Syria after it allegedly used chemical weapons - crossing what became known as ‘Obama’s Red Line’ - concerns were raised that Iran might feel freer to move toward nuclear weapons.

"First of all, I didn't set a red line. The world set a red line," said President Obama.

The president was referring to the 1925 Geneva Protocol that bans chemical weapons worldwide.  

If the international community, in particular the United States, will not use force to back up that longstanding ban, Iranian journalist Amir Taheri says it will be more difficult to put pressure on Iran to limit its nuclear program.

”The position was already weakened.  But the Syria retreat has weakened the U.S. position further," said Taheri.

But not all experts agree that the Syria chemical issue is directly linked to the Iran nuclear issue.  The head of London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies, John Chipman, says the Syrian attack presented a unique challenge, and the response is not necessarily a precedent.

“You wouldn’t necessarily see the way in which the Syrian crisis, especially in the last few weeks, has been handled as ruling the way in which the Obama Administration or any future U.S. administration would face a different security crisis in both the Middle East and the Asia Pacific," said Chipman.

Experts note the potential danger from Iran's getting nuclear weapons is far greater than the concern about chemical weapons in Syria.

And Amir Taheri says Iran would be wise not to test whether President Obama would enforce the ‘red line’ on its nuclear program.

“Of course, you know one must not forget that the U.S. remains the major power in the world, and it should never be underestimated," he said.

And some experts say the current plan for Syria to give up its chemical weapons through diplomacy enforces the ‘red line’ enough to signal Iran that it, too, would face damaging consequences if it moved to become a nuclear power.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 19, 2013 2:49 PM
Mr. Obama drew a red line and tripped over it. I'm sure not Netanyahu nor any of his successors will be willing to trip over their own red line on Iran's nucear program - for it is an existential threat.. Israel has done it before, in Africa and in Middle East, and is prepared to do it again, anywhere, because their life depends on it. It's not like Mr. Obama who has little stake in his demands and comments - "it's not mine red line...." Fortunately too, when the red line offense will be committed, Obama will not be the one in office, but if he is, Israel can still go it alone, and if he is not, then Israel will have a good backing from a better inclined US administration. "The position was already weakened.... the Syria retreat has weakened the U.S. position further," Taheri said, which is a pointer referring to US weakened state under Obama, further deteriorating in the face of unguided utterance of red line on Syria. It is untrue that the diplomatic gingering on Syria red line can deter Iran from its own pursuit of nuclear weapons, because the aim is to have something to destroy Israel, and once if only a single nuclear warhead is achieved, to strike Israel not counting any consequence to the world or another diplomatic suicide or wrestling at the UN security council.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid