News / USA

    Ban Ki-moon: Syria Action Needs UN Authorization

    U.S. President Barack Obama (5th R) speaks at a meeting with bipartisan Congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House while discussing a military response to Syria, September 3, 2013.
    U.S. President Barack Obama (5th R) speaks at a meeting with bipartisan Congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House while discussing a military response to Syria, September 3, 2013.
    VOA News
    The United Nations secretary-general says any confirmed use of chemical weapons in Syria would be an “outrageous war crime,” and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

    Ban Ki-moon urged the U.N. Security Council Tuesday to “unite and develop an appropriate response” if U.N. investigators confirm that chemical weapons were used.

    “This is a larger issue than the conflict in Syria. This is about our collective responsibility to humankind,” he said.

    However, Ban said, any use of force to punish those responsible for a chemical attack that killed more than 1,400 Syrians last month must have U.N. authorization to be legal.

    Congressional leaders offer backing

    Ban spoke as President Barack Obama and his top foreign-policy and defense officials were working to build domestic support for a U.S. military strike on the Syrian government.  The U.S. says Syrian President Bashar al Assad was behind the nerve-gas attack on August 21.

    After a White House meeting Tuesday, top U.S. lawmakers from both parties said they will support a U.S. strike.

    John Boehner, leader of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives, says the United States has the capability to stop Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    Boehner, who frequently clashes with Obama, mostly on domestic issues, urged colleagues to do the same.

    "We have enemies around the world that need to understand we are not going to tolerate this type of behavior," he said.

    Nancy Pelosi, who leads Obama's Democratic Party in the House, said Syria's use of chemical weapons was outside of the "circle of civilized behavior." She said the United States must respond.

    The Syrian government has denied that its military has used chemical weapons.

    Obama said he is asking Congress to approve a "proportional, limited" military response that would send a "clear message" to Assad's regime and any other country interested in "testing international norms."

    Sending 'a clear message' to Syria

    "We recognize that there are certain weapons that when used can not only end up resulting in grotesque deaths but also can end up being transmitted to non-state actors, can pose a risk to allies and friends of ours, like Israel, like Jordan, like Turkey," he said as he headed into the meeting with congressional leaders.

    Obama said the U.S. had a "broader strategy" that involves upgrading the capabilities of the Syrian opposition.

    A day of intense outreach to the Congress included a appearances by Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey.

    Even with Boehner’s backing, polls show many Americans remain skeptical about the need for a U.S. role in Syria. And there is no guarantee that Boehner will convince enough of his fellow Republicans in Congress to approve U.S. action.

    In addition to building support at home for action against Syria, the president will discuss this week in Europe. He is flying to Sweden overnight for a one-day visit, then will attend the G20 summit Thursday and Friday in St. Petersburg.
     
    Russia's role pivotal

    British Prime Minister David Cameron also is expected to urge Syria’s top ally, Russia, to work with Western allies toward a political solution to Syria’s civil war.  Russia has blocked previous U.N. efforts to impose sanctions on Assad’s government.
     
    Last week, Parliament rejected Cameron’s proposal for British participation in a military response to the suspected chemical weapons attack on August 21.   

    French President Francois Hollande Tuesday called on Europe to forge a united response to Syria. However, he said France would wait for the U.S. Congress to vote on Obama’s plan for a strike before taking any military action.

    The flow of refugees out of Syria has risen dramatically in recent months. The United Nations refugee agency says more than 2 million people have fled the country - up from 231,000 a year ago.

    'A disgraceful humanitarian calamity'  
     
    UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres said Syria has become "a disgraceful humanitarian calamity, with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history."  He added that "the only solace is the humanity shown by the neighboring countries in welcoming and saving the lives of so many refugees."

    The U.N. says many of the refugees flee with little more than the clothes on their back, and that half of them are children. It has made appeals for international aid, but said Tuesday it has received only 47 percent of the money required to meet the basic needs of the refugees.

    With 4.25 million more people displaced within Syria, the conflict has forced more than a quarter of the country's population to leave their homes.

    The crisis that began in March 2011 as an uprising against President Assad's rule has left more than 100,000 people dead.

    Assad denies his military was responsible for the use of chemical weapons, and he has challenged the United States and France to prove their allegations.  In an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, he warned that a military strike by those countries could start a regional war.

    Russia, a long-time Syrian ally, has also questioned the credibility of U.S. evidence that the Assad government used chemical weapons on civilians.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ishola, M from: Lagos
    September 03, 2013 10:21 PM
    The issues involved is beyond a military strike on Syria at this point in time. There are fundamental issues that must be pondered and this by the world at large as we are all stakeholders in the unforeseen consequences of the proposed strike. Let reason prevail and let us allow the UN do its job and as Ban Ki Moon has stated, any aggression will be illegal without due security council authourisation

    by: JUDITH KAY from: BUREAU COUNTY ILLINOIS
    September 03, 2013 4:09 PM
    WAIT UNTIL ASSAD IS BACK FROM IRAN HIT THE PALACE ONLY AND THEN WAIT TWO DAYS BEFORE LAUNCHING THE OTHER STUFF...

    by: Rudy Haugeneder from: Canada
    September 03, 2013 1:37 PM
    Boehner's attitude bent to Saudi demands. America owes the Persian oil states too much money to dare deny their demand that the United States attack Syria, he was told. The alternative is bankruptcy.
    Boehner, like Obama, pursed his lips to the please the Wahhabi Sunni bum, and agreed to do their bidding. Shame.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora