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US, Russia Reach Deal on Control of Syria Chemical Weapons: Jerusalem Post, Sept. 14, 2013—Russia and the United States put aside bitter differences over Syria Saturday, to strike a deal that by destroying Syrian President Bashar Assad's chemical arsenal may avert US military action against his regime. The agreement after three days of talks in Geneva between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov demands that Assad give a full account of his secret stockpile within a week.
Syria Could Still Blow Up in Putin’s Face: Shashank Joshi, The Telegraph, Sept. 16, 2013—The deal looks like a humiliation for Obama – but what happens if it starts to unravel? Whichever analogy one chooses, the conventional wisdom is hardening: Vladimir Putin has judo-flipped, checkmated and floored Barack Obama this week with a plan to inspect and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons.
The Price of the Syria Debacle: Amir Taheri, New York Post, Sept. 15, 2013 —Even those who worried about how President Obama would handle the Syrian chemical-weapons crisis are shocked at his weird behavior, which puts the world at risk of becoming even more dangerous. To start with, he has created confusion regarding the US president’s public statements.
Shiites: Syria War Will Ignite End Times: Ryan Mauro, Front Page Magazine, Sept. 16, 2013 —A Lebanese reporter for the Al-Monitor Middle East news service explains that Iran and Hezbollah view the Syrian civil war not only in a strategic context, but in a prophetic one. In their belief, the radical Sunnis will conquer Syria for a short period of time and then Iranian forces will intervene on their way to destroying Israel.
Poll: Majority Of Americans Approve Of Sending Congress To Syria: The Onion, Sept 5, 2013—As President Obama continues to push for a plan of limited military intervention in Syria, a new poll of Americans has found that though the nation remains wary over the prospect of becoming involved in another Middle Eastern war, the vast majority of U.S. citizens strongly approve of sending Congress to Syria.
Text: Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons: Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sept. 14, 2013
Into the Syrian Bazaar: Editorial, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 15, 2013
Russia Wants Seat Back at Mideast Table: Steven Hurst, Real Clear World, Sept. 16, 2013
Across Enemy Lines, Wounded Syrians Seek Israeli Care: Maayan Lubell, Reuters, Sept. 13, 2013
US, RUSSIA REACH DEAL ON
CONTROL OF SYRIA CHEMICAL WEAPONS
Jerusalem Post, Sept. 14, 2013
Russia and the United States put aside bitter differences over Syria Saturday, to strike a deal that by destroying Syrian President Bashar Assad's chemical arsenal may avert US military action against his regime. The agreement after three days of talks in Geneva between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov demands that Assad give a full account of his secret stockpile within a week.
International inspectors would rapidly get to work to eliminate all the weapons by the middle of next year – an "ambitious" target, in Kerry's words. If Syria reneges on a commitment to comply, Washington and Moscow pledged to cooperate at the United Nations to impose penalties – though these remain to be determined and Russia is highly unlikely to support military action, which US President Barack Obama has said must remain an option. Kerry said Obama retained the right to attack, with or without UN backing.
For Assad's opponents, who two weeks ago were expecting US air strikes at any moment in response to a poison gas attack on rebel territory last month, the deal was a big disappointment. Despite Kerry and Lavrov's assurances that the pact may lay a foundation for broader peace, they said Assad would not comply and that the deal brought an end to their battles no closer. Warplanes struck rebel-held suburbs of Damascus again on Saturday.
For the world's two greatest military powers, however, the Syrian conflict has chilled relations to levels recalling the Cold War, and Saturday's agreement offers a chance to step back from further confrontation. For Russian President Vladimir Putin, it brings management of the Syrian crisis back to the United Nations. For Obama, it solves the dilemma created by Congress's reluctance to back military strikes that he was preparing without a UN mandate.
Yet many difficulties lie ahead – not least the technical challenge of enforcing a major disarmament involving complex and dangerous materials in the midst of a vicious civil war that has inflamed the entire Middle East. Kerry told a joint news conference in Geneva: "The implementation of this framework, which will require the vigilance and the investment of the international community, and full accountability of the Assad regime, presents a hard road ahead."
Lavrov said: "It shows that when there is a will … Russia and the United States can get results on the most important problems including the weapons of mass destruction problem." "The successful realization of this agreement will have meaning not only from the point of view of the common goal of eliminating all arsenals of chemical weapons, but also to avoid the military scenario that would be catastrophic for this region and international relations on the whole."
In Istanbul, the head of the Syrian rebel Supreme Military Council was dismissive of the deal, however, saying it would not resolve the country's civil war, now in its third year. General Selim Idris called it a blow to opposition hopes of overthrowing Assad and accused the Syrian president of circumventing any disarmament by already sending chemical weapons to allies in Lebanon and Iraq in recent days.
Qassim Saadeddine, a rebel commander in northern Syria and a spokesman for the Supreme Military Council, told Reuters his forces would not cooperate: "Let Kerry-Lavrov plan go to hell. We reject it and we will not protect the inspectors or let them enter Syria," he said by telephone. A US official, however, said Washington believed all Syria's chemical weapons remained in areas under the Assad government's control.
Assad, who with backing from his sponsor Iran and its Lebanese Hezbollah allies has fought off first demonstrations demanding democracy and now full-blown rebellion backed by Arab states including Saudi Arabia, has agreed to sign up to an international treaty banning chemical weapons and to submit to controls by the UN-backed Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
While submitting to its inspections, he will be deprived of arms which he denies having used. But he has averted what were likely to be heavy US and French missile strikes and bombing raids that could have weakened his defenses against rebels who control large swathes of Syria, including around the capital Damascus. Despite the diplomatic breakthrough, chemical weapons only account for around 2 percent of deaths in a civil war in which 100,000 people have been killed since 2011.
On Saturday, Syrian warplanes struck rebel-held suburbs of the capital Damascus and government forces clashed with rebels on the frontlines, according to residents. The residents and opposition activists, asked about the deal, said that it would not benefit normal Syrians. "The regime has been killing people for more than two years with all types of weapons. Assad has used chemical weapons six or seven times. The killing will continue. No change will happen. That is it," said an opposition activist in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus who uses the name Tariq al-Dimashqi. "The most important point is the act of killing, no matter what is the weapon," he said.
Syrian state media broadcast the Kerry and Lavrov news conference live, indicating that Damascus is satisfied with the deal. Having taken the surprise decision two weeks ago to seek congressional approval for military action to punish Assad for using poison gas, Obama faced a dilemma when lawmakers appeared likely to deny him that – citing unease about helping Islamist militants among the rebels and a wariness of new entanglements in the Middle East after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The weapons deal proposed by Putin, a former KGB agent intent on restoring some of the influence Moscow lost with the collapse of the Soviet Union, offered a way out. Russia has protected and armed Assad and has been alarmed at what it sees as Western willingness to bypass the United Nations to impose "regime change" in other states. Under the terms of the US-Russian agreement – a bilateral document which in itself may represent something of a landmark in the management of global affairs, recalling East-West deals of the Cold War-era – Syria must let the OPCW complete an initial inspection of its chemical weapons sites by November.
Kerry said Assad must produce a "comprehensive listing" of its chemical weapons stockpiles within a week. The goal, he said, was the complete destruction of Syria's chemical weapons in the first half of 2014. The framework agreement – which one US official described as having been worked out in "hard fought" negotiations with Russia – states that a UN Security Council resolution should allow for regular assessments of Syria's compliance and "in the event of non-compliance, including unauthorized transfer, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria, the UN Security Council should impose measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter". Chapter VII can include military force but can be limited to other kinds of sanction. Russia and the United States continue to have different views on what level of punishment to apply.
When Kerry said during the news conference that the text stated that the Council "must" impose measures under Chapter VII, Lavrov interrupted to point out that it says only it "should" impose measures. "There's no diminution of options," Kerry said, noting Obama's right under US law to order military action, with or without support from Congress or any international body.
Lavrov said of the agreement: "There [is] nothing said about the use of force and not about any automatic sanctions."
Putin has supported Assad's contention that the sarin gas attack on Aug. 21 around Damascus which Washington says killed over 1,400 civilians was the work of rebels trying to provoke Western intervention. If Russia were "100 percent" sure of a violation, Lavrov said, it would support UN moves to "punish the perpetrators".
Senior Kerry aides involved in the talks said that the United States and Russia agreed that Syria has 1,000 tons of chemical agents and precursors, including nerve agents such as sarin gas and blister agents such as sulphur mustard. But the officials, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, said there was no agreement among the powers on how many chemical weapons-related sites Syria has that must be inspected under the accord.
The US estimate is that Assad's government has at least 45 sites associated with its chemical weapons program, one US official said. Implementation of the accord, even assuming Syria complies with its terms, will be daunting. "There are lots and lots of details that still have to be sorted through," a second US official said. To inspect, secure and destroy all of Syria's chemical stockpiles by the first half of 2014 "is daunting to say the least".
That timeline and others in the accord "are targets … not a deadline" another said. Syria's chemical weapons are likely to be removed through a combination of destroying them within Syria and shipping some out for destruction elsewhere, the officials said. Russia is one possibility site for destruction, but no final decisions have been made.
Lavrov and Kerry have said they will meet in New York at the United Nations in about two weeks to see if they can push forward a long-delayed plan for an international peace conference to try to negotiate an end to the war. A drive last year for a political solution, dubbed the "Geneva Plan" and calling for a transitional government, went nowhere as Assad refused to cede power and the opposition insisted he could not be a part of any new political order. Kerry said Saturday's chemical weapons deal could be "the first concrete step" toward a final settlement. Lavrov said he hoped all parties to the conflict could attend a conference in October, without pre-conditions.
The Telegraph, Sept. 16, 2013
The deal looks like a humiliation for Obama – but what happens if it starts to unravel? Whichever analogy one chooses, the conventional wisdom is hardening: Vladimir Putin has judo-flipped, checkmated and floored Barack Obama this week with a plan to inspect and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons. For the sceptics, this was the diplomatic equivalent of polonium-210 in Obama’s teacup; Russia has sucked the Americans into a needless distraction, buying time for Assad and leaving Syria’s rebels adrift.
The critics have two charges. The first is that the agreement, hammered out in Geneva after late-night arms control talks reminiscent of the Cold War, is unworkable. Assad will cheat, inspectors won’t be able to operate in war zones, and the Americans will look unreasonable if they call foul. Just as Saddam toyed with UN inspectors throughout the Nineties, so will Assad hand over some chickenfeed while dispersing the crown jewels. The second criticism is that the plan might be too successful: Assad will trade off his chemical weapons for regime survival, by making himself indispensible to the disarmament effort. The United States will quietly sever what little military aid it is extending to the beleaguered rebels, and drop its insistence that Assad must go as part of a political transition.
Yet things aren’t so clear-cut. Russia has certainly scored a tactical diplomatic victory, but this deal – unprecedented in its ambition and timetable – could still blow up in Moscow’s face. If it works – even if only a fraction of Syria’s chemical weapons and sites are inspected and eliminated – this will do much more to degrade that capability than cruise missiles would have done. If this comes at the price of boosting Putin’s ego, that’s cheap. Inspectors will never catch every last ounce of poison gas, but so what? Remember, those missiles were never going to touch the actual stockpiles, and the strike was to be “unbelievably small”, in US Secretary of State John Kerry’s memorable and foolish words.
It is irrelevant that the process may take years to complete: just having inspectors inside Syria is an advance on what was thought possible a week ago. Recall, that for all of Saddam’s deception, the UN did in fact destroy virtually all of his chemical weapons by the end of the Nineties. Syria is a tougher case, because a war is raging across the country. But if Assad admits inspectors and consolidates his weapons into fewer sites, this automatically makes it harder to use them. If he does not, then he will eventually breach the agreement – and bring punitive strikes back into the picture. Providing that the US keeps the heat on Damascus – an important proviso – it has little to lose. Yes, Assad is likely to cheat. His regime developed its chemical arsenal in response to Israel’s nuclear weapons, and it will not give them up without a fight. But the United States has, rightly, insisted that the threat of force will stay on the table. The UN resolution that backs up this deal won’t explicitly authorise force, but this was never on the cards.
Remember Obama’s position last week. The president had lost British support for military action, was poised to lose a Congressional vote, and faced opposition from half of the G20, including Nato members such as Germany. His authority was sapped, and his options narrowed. If the cynics are right and this deal falls apart, the US will be well positioned to occupy the diplomatic high ground and renew its case for strikes. Congress will be more readily persuaded that the use of force is necessary, and even Britain – though the prospects are slim – may reconsider the issue in Parliament. Today’s UN inspectors’ verdict, reported to confirm chemical weapons use in Syria and point to regime culpability, will further strengthen the US hand. If some of Syria’s chemical weapons have already been inspected and destroyed by this time (the plan demands that inspectors visit by November), this might even make strikes easier. If Russia is intent on stringing along the Americans and shielding Assad, its plan will only buy a few months.
Critics are also overstating the technical difficulties involved in tackling Syria’s chemical weapons. The task is daunting, but last month’s successful inspections demonstrates that it is not impossible for inspectors to enter contested areas. Chemical weapons expert and former UN inspectors have made it clear that there are ways of putting at least some of Assad’s chemical arsenal beyond use.
However, in emphasising chemical weapons over conventional slaughter, has Obama given Assad a new lease of life? The text of the Russian and American agreement makes it clear that the Syrian government will be responsible for the safety of inspectors. Moreover, the guardians of Syria’s chemical weapons – the elite Unit 450 – will surely have to remain intact through any political transition if the plan is to work. The problem with this line of argument is that it assumes that a regime-shattering intervention was derailed by half-baked diplomacy.
But the cavalry was not coming – as, indeed, we have known for several weeks. Even as they were making the case for war, American officials were adamant both that strikes would not be intended to change the military balance, and that a negotiated political solution – via the so-called Geneva II conference – remained the US objective. With or without Russia’s gambit, the US was terrified at the prospect of Syria’s chemical warfare units dissolving and leaving their stockpiles unsecured.
In many respects, this deal doesn’t change much. Russia will continue to arm and fund the Syrian regime as it consolidates its rump state. The US will continue its tepid support for rebels, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar their more enthusiastic contributions. If Syria’s most obscene weapons can be taken off the battlefield, good. If not, our powder stays dry.
New York Post, Sept. 15, 2013
Even those who worried about how President Obama would handle the Syrian chemical-weapons crisis are shocked at his weird behavior, which puts the world at risk of becoming even more dangerous. To start with, he has created confusion regarding the US president’s public statements.
Except for Jimmy Carter, all presidents for the past century have taken care not to commit themselves to any action when they didn’t mean it. In global diplomacy, the phrase “America has spoken” carried special weight. America’s word was America’s bond.
Obama has depleted that capital of trust. A man who loves the sound of his voice has devalued that bond in speeches and TV appearances, setting “red lines” that slowly vanish, shouting “Assad must go” then doing nothing to make that happen and promising to arm Syrian rebels only to have the arms never arrive. And now, after waxing lyrical about “the conscience of humanity,” he has dropped everything in exchange for a ride on the anfractuous path of Russian diplomacy.
The second danger is the perception that Russia may have gained a veto on aspects of US foreign policy. In his New York Times op-ed last week, Russia’s Vladimir Putin made it clear his “veto” goes beyond foreign policy to include cultural topics such as the “specialness” of the United States.
Putin claimed equivalence between the USSR (“the Evil Empire,” according to Ronald Reagan) and the United States, recalling the time when “we were allies” during World War II. He forgot to mention that the USSR had been allied to Nazi Germany, switching sides only after Hitler invaded.
In the blink of an eye, Obama has shrunk into second fiddle to Putin. Speaking in Geneva on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made a point of showing who was running the show: He said a new round of talks on Syria would start soon, with Iran and Saudi Arabia invited, to discuss transition plans for Syria.
The deal concocted by Moscow and bought by Obama gives Bashar al-Assad a free hand to kill Syrians as long as he doesn’t use chemical weapons. Moscow always wanted Assad to remain in power until the end of his presidential term next May. This is precisely what Obama has signed up for, since the deal gives Syria at least until next June to deliver on Moscow’s promises. The Damascus-Moscow-Tehran axis hopes to crush the Syrian rebellion within the next six or seven months and then hold fake elections in which Assad is re-elected or has one of his minions elected as president. In other words, the US has agreed to abandon Obama’s stated “Assad must go” policy in exchange for a Russian-led process. The fact that Assad is a war criminal is brushed under the carpet, a signal to actual or burgeoning war criminals across the globe to operate with impunity.
Whatever happens in Syria, the United States is likely to lose. If Assad’s gang keeps power, they’ll have no reason to abandon their Russian and Iranian protectors. If the rebels win, they’ll have a hard time forgetting Obama’s betrayal. The perception that America is led by a group of amateurs (some where they are only because they have risen to the level of their incompetence) is already encouraging other dangerous trends….
Obama’s Syria fiasco has also encouraged Iran to harden its position on the nuclear issue. In his speech at the Bishkek summit, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani tried to link the issue of Syria’s chemical weapons to Israel’s alleged ownership of a nuclear arsenal. He also said that Tehran was ready for talks with the 5+1 Group to secure recognition of “our legitimate right” to enrich uranium — ignoring five Security Council resolutions that demand an end to enrichment.
And in an interview Thursday, Ali-Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, said, “We do what
we want . . . They cannot do anything about it.” Tehran media report talks with Russia to help Iran build new nuclear power plants. A similar scheme that Iran signed with China 10 years ago could be revived.
The perception that, out of ideology or incompetence, Obama is leading the United States into strategic retreat has persuaded nations in Eastern Europe, Transcaucasia, Central Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, to review their foreign policies.
Finally, the Syria episode sends another message: While all nations can use force to impose their will (in 2008, Russia invaded Georgia and occupied 25 percent of that nation’s territory), only the United States is denied that right even to enforce international law. That’s the kind of “American exceptionalism” that Obama has secured.
Front Page Magazine, Sept. 16, 2013
A Lebanese reporter for the Al-Monitor Middle East news service explains that Iran and Hezbollah view the Syrian civil war not only in a strategic context, but in a prophetic one. In their belief, the radical Sunnis will conquer Syria for a short period of time and then Iranian forces will intervene on their way to destroying Israel.
The unnamed reporter points out that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is, like Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, “known for being a strong believer” in the Shiite prophecy that Iran will lead an End Times war against Islam’s enemies. At that time, the Mahdi will “reappear” and defeat the infidel.
According to the author, Iran and Hezbollah rely upon a book of prophecies called Al-Jafr to guide them. It was passed down to Jafar al-Sadiq, for whom the Jafari school of Shiite jurisprudence is named after. Teachers of this book say that the Syrian leader will be killed in a civil war during the End Times.
A Sunni leader will take over Syria and persecute Shiites, Allawites and Christians. The persecution will continue until an Iranian army invades Syria via Iraq, killing this Sunni leader on the way to capturing Jerusalem. Once Jerusalem is taken, the Mahdi will appear. Interestingly, in a modern context, this means that Hezbollah is fighting to preserve the regime of a man (Bashar Assad) that they believe will be killed.
Keep in mind, the Jafari school of jurisprudence is mainstream Shiite doctrine. There’s bound to be disagreement over the interpretation of prophecy, but these are not the beliefs of an isolated cult. In July 2010, a senior Iranian cleric said that Khamenei told his inner circle that he had met with the Mahdi, who promised to “reappear” during his lifetime.
A very similar eschatological viewpoint is articulated in a 2011 documentary produced by the office of then-President Ahmadinejad. The film, titled The Coming is Upon Us, does not predict a Syrian civil war but shares many of the same details articulated by the Al-Monitor reporter in Lebanon.
A critical point of convergence between the two sources is about Saudi Arabia’s role in prophecy. Both agree that the death of Saudi King Abdullah will be a major trigger. In fact, this event is so central to the Iranian film that it opens up with the statement, “Whoever guarantees the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, I will guarantee the imminent reappearance of Mahdi.”
What’s amazing about this film is the high level of detail of the discussed prophecies. It is easy to see why, if you were a devout Muslim (especially a Shiite), you would believe that the Mahdi’s return is near. The arrival of Jews in Palestine from the West and the birth of the state of Israel, the conquering of Arabia by the Al-Sauds and the global dominance of the U.S. and the West are all clearly foretold, it claims. An Allah-blessed revolution will take place in Iran led by a man based out of Qom. The narrators point to the 1979 Islamic Revolution as a clear fulfillment. After this happens, a series of vague and specific “signs” are to follow.
The most specific “signs” are related to Iraq. The Iranian video claims that prophecy requires the invasion of Iraq by infidels from the south with heavy use of aircraft, as happened in 2003. The infidel will cause tribal divisions and the evil dictator of Iraq (Saddam), will be killed. Other signs include the Westernization of Muslim youth (with the 2009 Green Revolution offered as evidence), the Iran-backed Houthi rebellion in Yemen and the overthrow of Egyptian President Mubarak.
“The preparer,” named Seyed Khorasani, will rule Iran at this decisive point in history. He will come from Khorasan Province, his strong army will have black flags and there will be a “sign” in his right hand. The filmmakers point out that Khamenei fills these requirements and has a disabled right hand.
Yamani will coordinate the offensive against the infidel with Khorasani that trigger the Mahdi’s reappearance. The film argues that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is his incarnation. Yamani will have a Yemeni background and it says that Nasrallah’s ancestors came to Lebanon from Yemen.
Khorasani/Khamenei’s military leader is given the name of Shoeib-Ebne Saleh. The film allegedly produced by Ahmadinejad’s office predictably says he is the incarnation of this figure. However, any military commander under Khamenei can arguably be him.
Analysis of these prophecies helps us see the future through the eyes of Hezbollah and the Iranian regime. Iran and Hezbollah are first focused on assembling an anti-Western Arab coalition. The Coming is Upon Us film specifically cites the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood as a step towards this, even if Iran and the Brotherhood are on opposite sides in Syria.
This stage includes fomenting internal strife in Bahrain, a Shiite-majority country governed by a pro-American Sunni monarchy. A representative of Khamenei said in 2011 that Bahrain presents “the best opportunity to begin setting the stage for the emergence of the 12th imam, our Mahdi.”
The development that Iran is eagerly awaiting is the death of the Saudi King Abdullah, which will trigger internal strife throughout Saudi Arabia. It is probable that this is when Iran hopes to begin a rebellion in the Shiite-majority Eastern Province where 90% of the country’s oil is.
After Assad is killed and replaced by a vicious Sunni leader, Iranian forces are to invade Syria from Iraq. The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and the Iraqi government’s slide into the Iranian orbit are undoubtedly seen as dramatic “signs.” Once an Arab coalition is formed and Syria is invaded, Jerusalem is to be captured by the Iranian-led forces. At this point, the Mahdi is to reappear and final victory will come that includes a Nasrallah-led march to Mecca.
The Al-Monitor report appears fanciful until all of these pieces are put together. Once they are, it is easier to understand why the Iran-Hezbollah bloc is confident of victory. “According to Shiites who believe in this [Al-Jafr] book, mainly Khamenei and Nasrallah, there is one possible explanation. The signs of reappearance of Mahdi are being successfully unveiled, and the Great War with Israel and the disbelievers is just around the corner,” writes the Lebanese reporter.
The Shiite Islamists’ End Times worldview does not necessarily result in recklessness. They do consider military strength and geopolitical realities, but the objectives of those calculations are to fulfill prophecy. Any policy debate that takes place among them is not about whether to pursue the war that summons the Mahdi, but how.
HUMOUR: IN A POLL, MAJORITY OF AMERICANS
APPROVE OF SENDING CONGRESS TO SYRIA
The Onion, Sept 5, 2013
As President Obama continues to push for a plan of limited military intervention in Syria, a new poll of Americans has found that though the nation remains wary over the prospect of becoming involved in another Middle Eastern war, the vast majority of U.S. citizens strongly approve of sending Congress to Syria.
The New York Times/CBS News poll showed that though just 1 in 4 Americans believe that the United States has a responsibility to intervene in the Syrian conflict, more than 90 percent of the public is convinced that putting all 535 representatives of the United States Congress on the ground in Syria—including Senate pro tempore Patrick Leahy, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and, in fact, all current members of the House and Senate—is the best course of action at this time.
“I believe it is in the best interest of the United States, and the global community as a whole, to move forward with the deployment of all U.S. congressional leaders to Syria immediately,” respondent Carol Abare, 50, said in the nationwide telephone survey, echoing the thoughts of an estimated 9 in 10 Americans who said they “strongly support” any plan of action that involves putting the U.S. House and Senate on the ground in the war-torn Middle Eastern state. “With violence intensifying every day, now is absolutely the right moment—the perfect moment, really—for the United States to send our legislators to the region.”
“In fact, my preference would have been for Congress to be deployed months ago,” she added.
Citing overwhelming support from the international community—including that of the Arab League, Turkey, and France, as well as Great Britain, Iraq, Iran, Russia, Japan, Mexico, China, and Canada, all of whom are reported to be unilaterally in favor of sending the U.S. Congress to Syria—the majority of survey respondents said they believe the United States should refocus its entire approach to Syria’s civil war on the ground deployment of U.S. senators and representatives, regardless of whether the Assad regime used chemical weapons or not.
In fact, 91 percent of those surveyed agreed that the active use of sarin gas attacks by the Syrian government would, if anything, only increase poll respondents’ desire to send Congress to Syria. Public opinion was essentially unchanged when survey respondents were asked about a broader range of attacks, with more than 79 percent of Americans saying they would strongly support sending Congress to Syria in cases of bomb and missile attacks, 78 percent supporting intervention in cases of kidnappings and executions, and 75 percent saying representatives should be deployed in cases where government forces were found to have used torture.
When asked if they believe that Sen. Rand Paul should be deployed to Syria, 100 percent of respondents said yes. “There’s no doubt in my mind that sending Congress to Syria—or, at the very least, sending the major congressional leaders in both parties—is the correct course of action,” survey respondent and Iraq war veteran Maj. Gen. John Mill said, noting that his opinion was informed by four tours of duty in which he saw dozens of close friends sustain physical as well as emotional injury and post-traumatic stress. “There is a clear solution to our problems staring us right in the face here, and we need to take action.”
“Sooner rather than later, too,” Mill added. “This war isn’t going to last forever.”
Text: Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons: Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sept. 14, 2013—
Taking into account the decision of the Syrian Arab Republic to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the commitment of the Syrian authorities to provisionally apply the Convention prior to its entry into force, the United States and the Russian Federation express their joint determination to ensure the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program (CW) in the soonest and safest manner.
Into the Syrian Bazaar: Editorial, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 15, 2013—Politicians on the right and left are praising Saturday's U.S.-Russia "framework" to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons as a step away from American intervention. That is true only in the looking-glass world in which politicians are desperate to avoid voting on a military strike. The reality is that the accord takes President Obama and the U.S. ever deeper into the Syrian diplomatic bazaar, with the President hostage to Bashar Assad and Vladimir Putin as the friendly local tour guides.
Russia Wants Seat Back at Mideast Table: Steven Hurst, Real Clear World, Sept. 16, 2013—The U.S. deal with Russia to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons has pulled the Obama administration into deep waters: the Kremlin's long-standing drive to put the brakes on American power and to restore Moscow to its place as a pivotal Mideast player.
Across Enemy Lines, Wounded Syrians Seek Israeli Care: Maayan Lubell, Reuters, Sept. 13, 2013—Not a hundred miles from Damascus, a Syrian rebel lies in a hospital bed, an Israeli sentry at the door. Nearby a Syrian mother sits next to her daughter, shot in the back by a sniper.
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