Global leaders plan collective response to Syrian crisis

Ahram Online, AFP, Wednesday 28 Aug 2013

UN approval and international cooperation is needed for military intervention in Syria; Assad accuses west of using 'excuses'

UN monitors observe Quneitra battles (Photo: Reuters)

It is unclear yet whether a military operation will take place over alleged chemical weapons use in Damascus. However, it appears world leaders are collectively weighing the option of intervention.

In the case that an intervention takes place, joint action is more likely to be decided upon.

The US, for instance, has announced that it will refrain from taking unilateral action without conferring with its allies first, according to AFP.

Britain and the US seem set on building a case for military action against Bashar al-Assad’s regime for an alleged chemical weapons attack that took place last Wednesday and left over 1,300 Syrians dead.

US officials boasted of gathering their own intelligence of the regime’s use of chemical weapons as US Secretary of State John Kerry promised “serious action” on Tuesday.

In a phone conversation on Wednesday, both British Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama agreed that all available information points to the regime as the perpetrator.

However, military action cannot be taken without the approval of the UN Security Council.

This point was reiterated by UN envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, who stressed that “international law is clear on this,” AFP quoted him as saying.

UN Chief Ban Ki-moon said the United Nations needs four more days to properly probe claims of the weapon attack. In the meantime, Britain is to present a draft of a resolution to the Security Council meeting condemning Assad’s chemical attack, for which they have already commenced talks with China, France, Russia and the US. The resolution is said to set the stage for military strikes.

Russia, however, which has vetoed resolutions on Syria before, could do so again, backing its decision with claims it was the rebels who used the chemical weapons in question.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was today quoted by AFP as saying that any form of intervention would only cause the region to descend into chaos. The country continues to stringently deny that Al-Assad is behind last Wednesday’s attack.

Similarly, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei voiced fears concerning the effects of a spillover, expressing that "the region is like a gunpowder depot. [Its] future cannot be predicted" in case of a military strike against Syria,” AFP reported.

On Tuesday, Iran opposed the use of its airspace or territory to attack war-torn neighbour Syria.

Taking precautions against an attack, the Israeli Cabinet authorised a partial call-up of army reservists, AFP said army radio reported.

Syria’s own reaction has been to stand behind Russia in denouncing the West for making “excuses” to intervene.

Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi said Wednesday his country would become a "graveyard of the invaders" should this happen.

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