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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid