Published on 2013-08-28 at 12:53:07 © DiploNews
In less than a week the Syrian crisis has replaced the Egyptian crisis as the top concern of the international community. As German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, the use of chemical weapons in Syria broke a “taboo.” Western countries, mainly the United States, France and Britain, accused the troops of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of having struck the eastern Ghouta region near the capital city Damascus with chemical weapons on August 21, killing between 600 to 1300 people according to various sources.
United Nations (UN)-Arab League (AL) Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said evidence suggested some “chemical substance” was used. That evidence mostly designated the Assad regime as responsible for crossing the “red line”, said France. Certainly the most vocal leader along with British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President François Hollande has called for “force” against Assad and has affirmed his country’s “readiness” to “punish” those responsible. While the US intelligence community continues to gather facts “to ascertain what occurred,” the White House told the press that President Barack Obama has already received “a detailed review of a range of potential options he had requested be prepared for the US and the international community to respond to the use of chemical weapons.” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed the DOD “has a responsibility to provide with options for all contingencies.” Israel said it is “ready for any scenario” too.
In a first stage, there has been a consensus that the use of chemical weapons should prompt a quick and forceful response. In a second stage, however, President Obama now seems to think twice about what to do without getting involved further than planned. Prime Minister Cameron waits for the conclusion of the UN investigation and put forward a UNSC resolution, and President Hollande keeps on repeating all this must not go unanswered. Not to mention it seems more appropriate to wait for unquestionable evidence of Assad’s responsibility though “mounting evidence points a precise finger at the Syrian armed forces’ use of sarin gas” according to Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino, the fact no one forgets when assessing that range of options is that Syria is not Kosovo.
“It is not that clear that we have to go and help,” Mrs Bonino underlined. A large number of western countries would actually support a military strike only if authorized by a UNSC resolution. Russia has called for them “to refrain from a line of forceful pressure” that could finally prove counter-productive especially towards the holding of a Geneva 2 conference that the European Parliament and the UN still hope for. The situation could change dramatically at any moment: “Any adventurim in Middle East will endanger regional, global stability,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned.