WASHINGTON, August 28, 2013 – After over a month of negotiating terms, UN investigators finally went into Syria to investigate the use of chemical weapons. That same team was forced to turn back after the first vehicle in the convoy was riddled by sniper fire.
On Monday, U.S. Secreatry of State John Kerry stated that it was ‘undeniable’ that Syrian President Assad had used chemical weapons against his people, and reprimanded Assad for the ‘cynical attempt to cover up’ the ‘cowardly crime.’ Kerry went on to say that President Obama is in touch with allied leaders to discuss a response to the use of chemical weapons by the Assad government.
White House spokesman Jay Carney insisted a response to the attacks “will come.” All signs point toward coordinated missile strikes against government targets inside Syria, although Carney also said the President is still weighing options. Indeed, in the same press conference, Carney laid out the legal groundwork justifying an attack.
Carney stated “it is absolutely in the national security interest of the United States and in the international community that the use of chemical weapons on the scale that we saw on August 21st cannot be ignored. It must be responded to. Because to allow it to happen without a response would invite further use of chemical weapons and have the international standard dissolve”
Both Department of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary Kerry foreshadowed that an attack will follow by consulting with NATO and other partners while also sending missiles attached with cruise ships into the Eastern Mediterranean. ”We’re ready to go” said Sec. Hagel, “The options are there, the United States Department of Defense is ready to carry out those options.”
Although the Department of Defense, the United States and its Allies may be ‘ready to go’ to retaliate for the use of chemical weapons, the real questions are “what’s next? and “at what cost?”
Syria has been locked in civil war since March 2011, when Assad responded with military force to Arab Spring protesters in the country. Over one hundred thousand have died as a result, with millions fleeing to neighboring countries for safety.
The White House is adamant that any strikes on Syria is “not about a regime change,” and “that cruise missile strikes are only to send the message that the usage of chemical weapons were “unacceptable.” The only way to show that it is “unacceptable” is to strike the Syrian Army and their positions.
How can the United States justify strikes against the Assad forces and not call it in support of the opposition forces? Whatever strikes are conducted will help the opposition and will be for their benefit.
Assad himself addressed this in an interview where he responded to reports of potential US involvement. He said, “Terrorism isn’t a bargaining chip to pull out and use anytime one want….You can’t be for the terrorism in Syria and against it in Mali.”
However, the Administration, backed into a corner after Obama’s 2012 speech at the National Defense University, is planning for a military strike.
The United States has publically declared that it supports funding the Syrian rebels against the forces of Assad. That decision, which came months ago, has been looked at very critically by members of Congress, particularly those on the Senate Select Intelligent Committee. “It’s not clear to me that the government has a workable policy” stated Sen. Collins (R-ME). Since July at least 50 Million worth of aid has been withheld because no non-Al Qaeda linked militias could be found.
In mid July, Al Qaeda planned to declare an Islamic State in Syria after securing the northern border with Turkey, an area in contestion with the Syrian Kurds. “The plan will continue with a serues if assasinations targering FSA members”
Al Nusra, the Al Qaeda linked terror group, is the strongest faction on the battlefield for the opposition and stands to benefit the most from US missile strikes on Assad. Depending on where the US and it’s allies decide to strike via missile, Al-Nursa may be able to consolidate it’s holdings in the north and improve it’s footing against Assad and the FSA in the south, where most of the fighting still rages.
Getting involeved in the Syrian Civil war threatens to tip the balance of power toward the terrorists. Unless the Obama administration gets into the business of regime change, missile strikes against Syria undermine the US security and policy in the Middle East and across the globe.
In the Middle East, Israel will bear the brunt of any US intervention in Syria. The releaseof 26 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of good will before negotiating a settlement with the Palestinians will be completely forgotten. It also undermines the President’s objective of solving the decades old Palestinain-Israeli conflict.
The Palestian-Israeli conflict aside, missile strikes in Syria will send a message to Assad that the use of chemical weapons are “unacceptable” while putting Israel in jeopardy.
Gaurentees have been givern by Iran and Syria that, in the case of a US attack on Syria, Israel will be the target of any retalliaiton. Hossein Sheikholeslam stated that, in event of a US strike in Syria, “the first victim…would be the Zionist regieme, because the Syrian military…can launch a major offensive on Israel and “flatten the place that is tied to the US national security.”
Syria issued a similar warning: “we have strategic weapons and we’re capable of responfing” said Khalaf Muftah. He continued “if the US or Israel make a mistake of taking advantage of the chemical issue…the region will go up in flames…that will affect security not only in the region but across the world.”
Others in the international community, particurally Russia, warned the US of responding militarily. Russia, who already has a fragile restanding with the US after granting Snowden asylum for a year, is urging the US, the UK and other countries to work withing the parameters of the UN Security council or the region will face “catastrophic consequences.”
The risks of sending a “message” to the Assad regieme could come at the cost of multiple policy objectives, the security of the United State’s closest ally in the region and could lead to terrorists rasing their flag over Damascus and perhaps even Jerusalem.
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