Obama urges world support for strike on Syria

September 5, 2013 | By | Reply More

Sep 05, – US President Barack Obama urged world support for punitive strikes against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons, as Damascus vowed retaliation and resistance even if it means World War III. Amid the pounding of war drums, the UN refugee agency and the four neighbouring states which have taken in hundreds of thousands fleeing Syria issued a plea for the international community to put aside its differences and end the “cycle of horror.”

hromedia Obama urges world support for strike on Syria arab uprising2Obama, fresh from efforts in Washington to secure bipartisan congressional support for military intervention, said in Stockholm that the world had set “a red line” for Syria.

It could not now remain silent in the face of the regime’s alleged strike on Damascus suburbs with chemical weapons last month.

“I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line,” Obama said, referring to international rules banning the use of chemical weapons, even in case of war.

“My credibility is not on the line,” Obama said in remarks after arriving in Sweden for a two-day visit. “The international community’s credibility is on the line and America and Congress’s credibility is on the line.”

Obama will travel on to the G20 summit in Saint Petersburg, Russia, where he is expected to continue seeking international support for moves to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the alleged deadly gas attack two weeks ago said to have killed hundreds.

White House officials have said Obama will meet French President Francois Hollande, the main foreign backer of a strike on Syria, as well as the leaders of China and Japan.

No formal bilateral meeting is planned with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a strong Assad supporter, but a White House official suggested there likely would be some kind of dialogue.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad, in an exclusive interview with AFP, said Damascus was ready to retaliate in the event of an attack.

“Syria has taken every measure to retaliate against… an aggression,” he added, refusing to elaborate.

“The Syrian government will not change position even if there is World War III.”

In an interview broadcast early on Wednesday, Putin appeared to strike a conciliatory note by saying he did not exclude agreeing to strikes if it were proven the regime had carried out the gas attack.

Yet Muqdad insisted Moscow had not wavered in its support of Damascus.

“The Russian position is unchanged; it’s a responsible position of a friend that is in favour of peace,” he said.

In later comments, Putin appeared to corroborate this, warning the US Congress that it would be legitimising an “aggression” if it gave its blessing to military action in a vote expected next week.

Obama has deferred any military action in Syria, seeking congressional approval in a vote scheduled for next Monday.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday gave its backing by a 10-7 vote for the use of force, paving the way for a full Senate debate.

Its amended resolution authorises military intervention with a 90-day deadline and bars US boots on the ground for combat purposes.

A measure will also have to be adopted by the House of Representatives.

Since British lawmakers rejected a bid to take any military action against Assad’s regime, Washington has found a strong partner in France but is seeking other allies.

Opening a fiery parliamentary debate Wednesday, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault urged lawmakers to back military action in response to “the most massive and terrifying use” of chemical weapons this century.

He said it was “undeniable” that the regime had used chemical weapons to kill hundreds of people” and that “to not react would put peace and security in the entire region in danger.”

No vote was expected as French President Francois Hollande does not need parliamentary approval to launch military action.

Syria’s Muqdad lashed out at Paris, ridiculing it as an American stooge.

“It’s shameful that the French president… says ‘if Congress approves, I go to war, otherwise I won’t go’, as if the French government had no say in the matter,” Muqdad said.

That was apparently a reference to a statement by senior French MP Patricia Adam this week that “France will not act alone… If the American Congress opposes intervention, France will not go.”

In Washington, top administration leaders kept up an offensive to win full congressional support.

Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee: “We need to send to Syria — and to the world, to dictators and terrorists, to allies and civilians alike — the unmistakable message that when we say never again, we actually don’t mean sometimes, we don’t mean somewhere, we mean never again.”

In Geneva, meanwhile, Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, read a joint statement after talks with ministers Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq calling for an end to the fighting.

“A political solution to end this cycle of horror is urgently needed. There is no humanitarian solution to the Syrian crisis. Rather there needs to be a political solution that ends the humanitarian crisis,” he said.

The four countries have received the overwhelming majority of the two million Syrians who have fled their homeland since the war started in March 2011, and are being stretched to the limit to cope with the influx.

More than 110,000 people have died in the 29-month conflict, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Press journalist for HRO media  – contributed to this report.

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Category: Arab uprising

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