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.
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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

Al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs