All signs indicate that President Barack Obama is
prepared for a limited strike on Syria despite a lack of broad support from allies and Congress.
Yesterday, the U.K.’s House of Commons rejected Prime Minister David Cameron’s motion for military action, while the U.S. Congress is demanding a say and the UN Security Council has failed to agree on military action.
The administration’s resolve arises from the assessment that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad killed hundreds of his own people in a chemical weapons attack on August 21, creating a need to uphold the international norm against using poison gas and enforce Obama’s blurred “red line.”
White House officials on Thursday signaled a desire to act quickly in Syria, on the U.S.’s own timetable and unilaterally, if necessary.
They cited a concern that waiting longer would inflame debates in the U.S. and Europe, while providing Syria more of an opportunity to cover its tracks and giving Syria’s allies time to whip up international opposition to U.S. strikes.
That concern is justified since the Britain’s House of Commons rejected Prime Minister David Cameron’s motion for military action in Syria, driving a wedge of sorts between America and its closest ally. Then Germany ruled out participating in a strike on Syria. (France reaffirmed its support of a strike.)
And according to a Russian adviser (via the BBC), the Kremlin welcomed the rejection of Cameron and is “actively working to avoid any scenario involving use of force in Syria.” Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah have both threatened retaliation to any Western strike.
“What’s being contemplated is of such a limited and narrow nature that it’s not … imperative for bringing in different capabilities from different countries,” a senior administration official told WSJ.
The White House’s apparent commitment to a limited strike soon is based on “multiple pieces of evidence of regime involvement” when hundreds were killed and thousands suffered “neurotoxic symptoms” near Damascus last week.
A senior administration official told CBS News late Thursday that on Friday the administration will release a declassified version of an intelligence report that contains “very convincing” evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons its own people.
The UN chemical weapons inspection team will reportedly wrap up its investigation and leave the capital on Saturday.
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