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Thursday, August 29, 2013

US and UK getting cold feet on Syria?

Overnight, both the United States and the United Kingdom indicated that they are putting off their attack on Syria for a few days (in line with a request made on Wednesday by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon).

President Barack Obama said he had not yet made his decision regarding a U.S. strike on Syria during an interview with PBS NewsHour senior correspondents Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill. The president said that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's regime alleged use of chemical weapons would factor into his calculation and he warned that the Assad should be held accountable. Here's President Obama. Let's go to the videotape.

Meanwhile, Britain's David Cameron also seems to be getting cold feet.
The permanent five members of the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Wednesday morning to discuss the draft, at which the UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant presented language condemning "the attack by the Assad regime, and authorizing all necessary measures under Chapter seven of the UN Charter to protect civilians from chemical weapons."
Western powers assert that Assad used chemical weapons on civilians in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on August 21, killing over a thousand and wounding thousands more.
Russia called the draft resolution "premature."
The US now "does not see an avenue forward" through the Security Council, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Wednesday after the meeting adjourned. "We are not proceeding with a vote on this draft resolution."
But in Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to change tack on Wednesday evening in the face of growing opposition from members of the UK Parliament.
He vowed to resubmit new language to the UN Security Council, wait until the UN investigation on the ground in Syria completed its work over the weekend, and then call for a second vote from Parliament for authorization of military force.
Britain's opposition Labour Party, under Ed Miliband's leadership, threatened late Wednesday to vote against the motion to participate in military intervention in Syria without first exhausting UN procedures.
Facing defeat in the pending Parliament vote on Thursday, Cameron-- after reconvening its members for the crisis meeting-- shelved a military response for now to avoid the standoff.
The move appeared to put the breaks on any immediate action in the coming days.
What does 'exhausting UN procedures' mean? Does anyone really believe that Russia and/or China is going to approve an attack on Syria? Jordan also says it's not going to get involved (except that it could be a target for Syrian retribution since it is housing thousands of Syrian refugees. But guess who does want to be involved in an attack on Syria....
Turkey placed its armed forces on alert on Wednesday, in light of possible security threats from Syria as the West continued planning military action against the Damascus regime in response to the Ghouta attack, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday.
Davutoglu asserted that "all options are on the table" for Turkey to address the use of chemical weapons in Syria on a massive scale.
Turkey's allies in Washington, London and Paris have been weighing military intervention in Syria's harsh civil war since last week. US and British navy destroyers have been deployed to the eastern Mediterranean in the event President Barack Obama chooses to order a strike.
"We are now at a more alert position... Turkey will take whatever measures necessary within the framework of its own strategic interests," Davutoglu told reporters.
"The Turkish armed forces have the mandate to take every measure against any security threat from Syria or elsewhere... and retaliate within the rules of engagement."
Turkey has been bullish on Syria throughout its civil war, openly supporting rebels fighting Assad-- including the al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaida.
On Monday, one senior Turkish official told a local media outlet that his government was considering making their Incirlik air base available to NATO should the Western coalition, led by the United States, choose to proceed with military intervention.
Incirlik was used by NATO in operations in Iraq and Kosovo.
What could go wrong?

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