On Thursday, as a result of the rising tensions in the Middle-East, the British Parliament voted against military action against Syria. In a narrow vote of 285-272 the British Parliament denied the possibility of joining the Obama administration in another conflict in the Middle-East. The United States may have to strike alone if it decides on military action against the Syrian government, who have been accused of human rights violations and the use of chemical weapons against the people of Damascus.
President Obama’s attempts to create a worldwide coalition against the Assad regime have proven to be less than successful. A meeting between the U.N Security Council’s permanent members, on Thursday, ended without an agreement being reached.
Iran and Russia have announced that they will coordinate efforts in an attempt to stop any attacks from occurring. Putin has agreed that any proven use of chemical weapons is deplorable but urges caution in reacting to the attack. Stating, in an interview on Saturday “We are categorically opposed to them, we condemn them and, accordingly, if their use can be proven, we will participate in developing countermeasures.” Russia has insisted that no action can take place without the approval of the U.N. and two of her warships have been posted to the Mediterranean where they will be in the company of three U.S. warships. In the same interview, Putin indicated his belief that it was the rebels who utilized the weapons in an attempt to acquire international assistance stating that “I am convinced that [the chemical attack] is nothing more than a provocation by those who want to drag other countries into the Syrian conflict, and who want the support of powerful members of the international community, especially the United States. I have no doubt about this.”
On Saturday, Syrian government forces resumed the shelling of opposition forces in Damascus. In the United States, Obama has stated that the U.S. should take action against Syria but must seek congressional authorization for the use of force. The consequences of the war in Iraq have, perhaps, made President Obama more cautious as he does have the authority to act on his own on this issue.
Harry Reid, the U.S. Senate Majority Leader has stated that the Senate will vote on the issue no later than the week of September 9. The U.N. chemical weapons team have arrived in the Netherlands with the samples collected from the on-site visits in Syria. Their investigation may take up to three weeks to complete. The consequence of this is that the U.S. Senate may make an uniformed decision concerning a strike against Syria. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is expected to analyse blood and urine samples, as well as soil samples, from the victims and vicinity of the alleged attack. Although this may prove an attack occurred it will not, as Putin believes is of crucial importance, show who initiated the attack.
Israeli military leaders have expressed fears that an attack on Syria may result in missile attacks against Israel, as a close ally of the U.S., by the Syrian forces. It has responded by increasing missile defence batteries in the Tel Aviv area. In Iran, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of the Iranian parliament’s Committee on National Security, stated that an attack against Syria will have far reaching repercussions and will not be confined to Syria’s borders. Reaction by Iran will be based, according to some analysts, on the extent of military intervention in Syria. An attack aimed at changing the regime in Syria will result in a regional conflict while a “Shot across the bow” aimed at preventing further chemical attacks will be tolerated by Iran who have had unsuccessful entanglements with the allies of the U.S. before.
Written By: Mitchell Luthi