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

Photogallery Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had earlier warned storm could be one of worst the city has ever faced More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

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