Thursday, September 5, 2013

Barack Obama Gets Approval From US Senate to Bombard Syria



A US Senate panel voted today to give President Barack Obama the authority to use military force against Syria in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack in Damacus on August 21 that killed over 1,400 people as they slept in their homes.

The vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was the first in a series as the president's request makes its way through congressional panels before coming before the two chambers of Congress for a final vote.

The full Senate is expected to vote on the measure next week. Obama's top advisers on Wednesday took the argument for action to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where the support seen in the Senate will be harder to find.

The resolution would permit Obama to order a limited military mission against Syria, as long as it doesn't exceed 90 days and involves no American troops on the ground for combat operations. (Associated Press)

Meanwhile some Arab countries have offered to pay for US military invasion in Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry said at Wednesday’s hearing that Arab counties have offered to pay for the entirety of unseating President Bashar al-Assad if the United States took the lead militarily.

“With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes,” Kerry said. “They have. That offer is on the table.”

Asked by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) about how much those countries would contribute, Kerry said they have offered to pay for all of a full invasion.

“In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we’ve done it previously in other places, they’ll carry that cost,” Kerry said. “That’s how dedicated they are at this. That’s not in the cards, and nobody’s talking about it, but they’re talking in serious ways about getting this done.

President Obama is expected to find little support for action on his overseas trip. Among major allies, only France has offered publicly to join the US in a strike. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that any "punitive" strike on Syria would be illegal without a sound case for self-defence or the approval of the Security Council, where Syria ally Russia has used its veto power to block action against Assad's regime.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned the West against taking one-sided action in Syria but said Russia "doesn't exclude" supporting a UN resolution on punitive military strikes if it is proved that Syria used poison gas on its own people.

In an interview with the Associated Press yesterday, Mr Putin expressed hope that he and Mr Obama would have serious discussions about Syria and other issues at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg this week.

Mr Obama said today that he is "always hopeful" that Mr Putin will change his position on taking action in Syria.