News / USA

World Powers Split Over US Plan to Punish Syria

World Powers Split Over US Plan to Punish Syriai
X
September 07, 2013 4:24 AM
The Group of 20 split down the middle Friday on the question of supporting the United States in punishing Syria’s government for apparently gassing civilians two weeks ago in Damascus. VOA's James Brooke reports that as the G-20 meeting ended in St. Petersburg, the White House released a statement endorsed by U.S. President Barack Obama and 10 other world leaders.
VIDEO: Group of 20 cleaved down the middle Friday on question of supporting U.S. in push for strikes against the Syria’s government.
James Brooke
The Group of 20 split down the middle Friday on the question of supporting the United States in punishing Syria’s government for apparently gassing civilians two weeks ago in Damascus.

As the G-20 meeting ended in St. Petersburg, the White House released a statement endorsed by U.S. President Barack Obama and 10 other world leaders. It said: “The world cannot wait for endless failed processes that can only lead to increased suffering in Syria and regional instability. We support efforts undertaken by the United States and other countries to reinforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.”

Obama said his next step will be to appeal directly to the American people in a televised address from the White House on Tuesday. The U.S. president is seeking approval from the U.S. Congress for air strikes against Syria’s military.

In Russia, he said the world cannot stand by while weapons of mass destruction are used against civilians.

“Failing to respond to this breach of this international norm would send a signal to rogue nations, authoritarian regimes and terrorist organizations that they can use W.M.D. and not pay a consequence - and that’s not a world we want to live in,” the American president told reporters.

Making a case

The statement backing U.S. action was endorsed by the leaders of Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Turkey.

During his 24 hours in St. Petersburg, the American president stressed that military action will be limited to punishing the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for gassing civilians.

“Gassing innocent people, delivering chemical weapons against children, is not something we do,” he said at the press conference. “It’s prohibited in active wars between countries, even more so against children, and we’ve got to stand up for that principle.”

Obama repeatedly refused to say whether he would order air attacks against Syria if Congress does not vote to authorize use of military force.

In St. Petersburg, the American president repeatedly was countered by Russian President Vladimir Putin - in a 20-minute one-on-one meeting Thursday night, and at group meetings of the world leaders.

Putin presses point

At Putin’s press conference, he listed the countries that supported his position of non-interference.

“Who was categorically against?” he asked. “Russia, China, India, Indonesia - I draw your attention, the largest Muslim country in the world in terms of population - Argentina, Brazil, South Africa.”

While several countries are against U.S. action, the Russian president also took what are increasingly minority positions: casting doubt that chemical weapons were used and saying that, if they were, it was opposition fighters who used them.

“I assume that everything that happened with the so-called chemical weapons, is a provocation by the fighters, who are counting on to their side, on the help of those countries who from the beginning supported them,” said Putin. “That's the whole point of this provocation.”

A reporter asked the Russian president if Russia would send military aid to Syria in the event of an attack by the United States.

“Are we going to help Syria?” asked Putin. “We will. The way we now help. We supply weapons, we cooperate in the economic sphere. I hope there will be more cooperation in the humanitarian sphere.”

Russia's reprisals

Earlier in the week, the Russian leader suggested that if the United States attacks, the Kremlin would consider completing delivery of sophisticated S-300 air-defense missiles to Syria.

Russia’s support of Syria’s government is so rock solid, that the Obama administration has little hope of winning support in the United Nations Security Council.

Russia has vetoed three Syria resolutions in the Security Council. On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said: "Russia continues to hold the Council hostage and shirk its responsibility."

With the world divided and congressional support in doubt, the American president seems to face an uphill battle to forge ahead with air strikes.

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin, center foreground, gestures as he walks by U.S. President Barack Obama, front row second right, as he takes his place at a group photo outside of the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama, right, walks with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel prior to a group photo of G-20 leaders outside of the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 6, 2013. 
  • An image of U.S. President Barack Obama drinking out of a paper cup is shown on a large screen in the media center of a G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 6, 2013. 
  • British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a media conference after a G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) arrives for the family picture event during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama walks away after shaking hands with Russia's President Vladimir Putin during arrivals for the G20 Summit at the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Sept. 5, 2013.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Sept. 5, 2013.
  • A man protests possible military action in Syria as the first day of the G20 Summit gets underway in St. Petersburg, Sept. 5, 2013.
  • BRICS leaders' at the G20 Summit in Strelna near St. Petersburg, Sept. 5, 2013.
  • Participants sit at a table during a BRICS leaders' meeting at the G20 Summit in Strelna near St. Petersburg, Sept. 5, 2013.
  • Apples are seen on the ground next to statues across the street from the Constantine Palace, the venue for a G20 meeting in St. Petersburg, Sept. 4, 2013.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: Bob Vedari from: Van Nuys, CA
September 06, 2013 6:01 PM
"The world is split" - there are those who have no moral conscience and are fine with the slaughter of civilians. Then there are those who have a moral conscience, but doubt the ability of The Messiah to do anything worthwhile because his track record of worthwhile things sucks. It's not so much a left-right thing. It's a don't care-don't trust thing.

by: Marin Dinca from: San Diego
September 06, 2013 5:46 PM
We know the criminals in an abominable crime; they profit from it! No aggression war can start without the WAR HYSTERIA manufactured by the "media”; that is people who won it. The West is arming one side in the civil war – Russians are arming Syria against Israel’s air attacks (see S-300 antiaircraft missiles). The real question is: would we attack Syria if they are willing to use chemical weapons? Syrians have no place to go. They may use any weapons if faced with extermination. Israel would/may do the same. So, my best hope is that US would just give the Russians a bloody nose by taking out the S-300 antiaircraft missiles… and if Iran moves a finger, we got the chance to take their nuclear facilities out (a slap in the face to the Russians for they have built Iran’s, first nuclear power plant). A “limited” nuclear accident/war is possible in the East Mediterranean Sea –far away from USA! After all, what good make the nuclear (or chemical) weapons if no one is using them?! There is not that much radioactive fallout at sea. There is life now in the Bikini islands… We know all wars are started by cowards. Benjamin Franklin (see his picture on US largest dollar bill!) said: “there never was a good war or a bad peace” or something like that… Today, media treats the American Government as if they are a bunch of teenagers (or mentally retarded) with their talk about “credibility”. Credibility is what we need? We can destroy the life on this planet with our nuclear arsenal. Is there a country/people on the face of the Earth that knows NOT that? At times, God gives a person or a Nation much power and He takes it away if it is abused.
In Response

by: Ramnarayan from: Florida, USA
September 07, 2013 2:05 PM
The way American govt. is acting they qualifies them to be called imbeciles. It is a shame that you have such a stunted development. You must live in a world which is devoid of any intellects. We are the only nation that has nuclear missiles. If everybody has the same twisted thinking you would expect out of us Americans, just pause to imagine the consequence. We need more, not less press to question the govt. We are supposed to be a democracy, not a sheik kingdom.
In Response

by: Markt
September 06, 2013 7:43 PM
a 'limited nuclear accident /war'? 'What good make the nuclear (or chemical) weapons if no one is using them'? Your quotes...and you are out of your friggin' head for thinking that...
Bikini Atoll returning to life, after 55 years since the last nuclear test was done (and the 6 tests before that). As far as chemical weapons are concerned, have you seen what a chemical agent can do to a person, even a non-lethal one? As a former Marine, I have seen it. It is a terrible, painful and agonizing experience, and you wish you would die from it. And, as far as a 'limited nuclear accident /war' try googling nuclear disasters, like Chernobyl, and the most recent one in Japan. Google Hiroshima and Nagasaki, if you want to know the effects of the use of nuclear weapons does to a people.
You obviously do not know your history, if you think that such actions are good. 'not much radioactive fallout at sea', none that affect people? How about sea life, the fish we consume? I cannot even think of any more harm any country can do, than to unleash a nuclear 'accident' on anyone else...
Just because it will never happen to you (God forbid), doesn't mean it isn't terrible, and something to be prevented from happening at all costs...
Comments page of 2
 Previous    

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs