Report: Israel helped Obama avoid action in Syria
Stories from Michael Oren's new book
continue to leak to the media. In yet another report based on the book, Eli Lake reports that Israel helped President Hussein Obama avoid action on his 'red line' on Syrian use of chemical weapons
Oren's book, "Ally," discloses for the first time that in late August
and early September 2013, Israel's then-intelligence minister, Yuval
Steinitz, floated a plan for Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons to
the Russian government and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
received Obama's blessing to move forward with the proposal.
To be sure, Oren also writes in his memoir that Israel did not oppose
U.S. airstrikes in late August 2013, saying the Jewish state saw no
downside with Obama enforcing his red line and hopefully deterring
Syria's ally, Iran. But at the same time, he credits Steinitz and
Netanyahu with helping prepare the diplomacy that allowed Obama to climb
down from the air strikes that Oren himself believed at the time were
all but a certainty.
It was in this period that America came closest to directly entering
the Syrian civil war. In August 2013, U.N. inspectors confirmed that
Bashar al-Assad's regime attacked a rebel position in Ghouta outside of
Damascus. Obama reluctantly acknowledged that the Syrian dictator had
crossed the administration's red line and used chemical weapons. But
after Syria and Russia agreed to a plan in which Assad would acknowledge
and dispose of his chemical weapons, the threat of American airstrikes
as punishment for the attack in Ghouta subsided.
At the time, the disarmament plan appeared to come about by accident. On Sept. 9 that year, Secretary of State John Kerry floated the idea
that Assad could avert a U.S. attack on his territory if he gave up his
chemical weapons. State Department officials soon after said the
remarks were more a rhetorical flourish than a sincere proposal. But
Kerry's Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, quickly seized on the
remarks and presented a proposal to Syria's foreign ministry. Within the
space of a news cycle, a U.N. plan was being negotiated and America was
backing away from airstrikes.
It turns out that Netanyahu was helping to bring about the deal
behind the scenes, according to Oren. "In the course of this frenzy,
though, I heard of a proposal to peacefully remove Syria’s chemical
arsenal," Oren writes. "The idea originated with an Israeli minister,
Yuval Steinitz, who first pitched it to the Russians, who were eager to
avoid an American intercession that they could not stop. Netanyahu next
brought it to Obama and received a green light."
And it goes without saying that Arrogant Obama showed no appreciation for Israel's role in saving him from his red line.
Oren also notes that Obama never publicly credited Israel with help on
the plan. "In subsequent interviews, Obama rarely missed the chance to
cite the neutralization of Syria’s chemical capabilities as an historic
diplomatic achievement. Russian president Vladimir Putin also took
credit for the initiative and praised this 'vivid example of how the
international community can solve the most complex disarmament and non-
proliferation task.' Israel’s role remained unmentioned, but its
citizens were relieved not to have to sign up for more gas masks," he
Given what's happened in Syria since 2013, perhaps we're better off with Obama's lack of gratitude. Read the whole thing
Labels: Barack Hussein Obama, Binyamin Netanyahu, chemical weapons, Michael Oren, Syria, Syrian uprising, Vladimir Putin