As the Syrian civil war escalates with their use of increasingly dangerous weapons, President Obama, the rest of Washington and the United Nations conflict on how to approach the sovereign country. Syria has been engaged in civil conflict since 2011, but arose to recent scrutiny with an attack on the Damascus suburbs last month, which resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 people.
With the body count from the Syrian civil war still piling, at 70,000 murdered, death is not new to Syria’s citizens or the onlookers of the world. However, the use of the chemical Sarin, a substance classified as a weapon of mass destruction, is what has drawn the attention of the United States and the United Nations. The details of the Damascus battle as well as the possessions of Syrian President Assad’s weaponry are still under investigation.
U.S. Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, announced to reporters, “Our intelligence community does assess, with varying degrees of confidence, that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically, the chemical agent Sarin.”
For this ambiguity, the United Nations have been hesitant to urge action towards a country that has been characterized for its violent internal conflict since the 80’s. However, facing an issue of human rights and plain justice, the United States, Britain and France pushed heavily for the United Nations to approve of a chemical weapons investigation team to gain access to Syria. This team arrived in mid-august, just days before the Damascus attack on August 21.
Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, blames rebels battling to overthrow him, saying it makes no sense for his forces to use chemical weapons when they were gaining the upper hand and while U.N. chemical inspectors were staying in central Damascus.
Opponents of the increased involvement in the Syrian civil war included Russia and China who in 2011 vetoed a European-backed U.N. Security Council resolution that threatened sanctions against Syria if it didn’t immediately halt its military crackdown against civilians, and in 2012 a bill a resolution in the U.N. Security Council that backed an Arab League plan calling for Assad to step down.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin was on questioned on his actions towards Syria, he replied that his handling of the situation was shaped by international law and past experiences. His hesitance to increase involvement in Syria’s on goings is rooted in the evidence surrounding the Damascus incident, which the United States feels to be more conclusive then other members of the United Nations. This evidence, Puttin commented, should be presented, but as long as it is withheld as classified. His support cannot be won on the basis of assumptions.
Puttin also delineated on the results of the Iraq war which are viewed by most analysts as a mistake. The Iraq war had its beginnings in a similar fashion, a search unapproved by the United Nations for weapons of mass destruction that were never found.
Leon Sapp, Staff Writer