570 words - September 4, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
After the refusal by the UK Parliament to authorize Prime Minister David Cameron to use force against Syria, US President Barack Obama has finally decided to seek Congress authorization. In the meantime, the French parliament has held a debate without a vote amid growing protest. President François Hollande has been accused of ignoring the doubts of both a large part of the elected representatives and the public opinion whose 68% would disapprove a military action against Syria, latest polls showed. Actually the constitution, which was fit for historic figure General Charles de Gaulle, authorizes the French President to take such decisions under his sole responsibility in his capacity of "Chief of the Armies."
This week, the three aforementioned governments have released unclassified intelligence reports which, they said, have brought evidence of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and/or his government-military's involvement in the chemical attack that killed more than a thousand people near Damascus on August 21. Summing up, the intelligence that has been collected so far points to President Assad and his regime. Though the reports – especially the French one – have listed the chemical weapons of the Syrian government – approximately a thousand tons and numerous vectors – they failed to bring concrete and unquestionable evidence of President Assad's responsibility. At least the reports highlighted how dangerous the situation could turn in case the Syrian chemical weapons were to be used extensively by the Syrian government or fall into the hands of extremists. The main issue for Presidents Obama and Hollande is that belief is not evidence, particularly according to international laws.
That's why, a "yes" at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is mission impossible. Furthermore, the United Nations investigation might not clarify the situation since it will mostly confirm the use of chemical agents but will be unlikely to tell – with absolute certainty – who was behind it. From the viewpoint of Washington, this will be because it has taken too long for the UN investigation team to access the attack's site. "We have reached a point now where we believe too much time has passed for the investigation to be credible," said US Department of State's spokesperson Marie Harf. From the viewpoint of Moscow, this will add to the belief that President Assad had no interest in this attack. "Common sense speaks for itself. Syrian government troops are on the offensive. In some regions they have encircled the rebels. Under these conditions, the idea of giving a trump card to those who are constantly calling for foreign military intervention is utter nonsense," said Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview.
In the end, the United Nations will be powerless despite having pushed for a peaceful solution in Syria from the outset. On the one hand, Presidents Obama and Hollande have decided the chemical attack cannot remain "unpunished" and only a negative vote from the US congress could persuade them not to send their "strong message". On the other hand, the Syrian crisis is grave enough for the "message" to bring unexpected consequences, as President Assad has clearly warned the French government that there would be "negative repercussions." According to DiploNews, the only way-out that might save all the parties' face would be, though very unlikely, the surprise holding of a Geneva 2 conference and the resumption of a credible political process in Syria. This week, the number of Syrian refugees passed the threshold of two million.
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