Senate committee approves military strike; full Congressional authorization still needed to launch war
By Miriam Raftery
September 4, 2013 (Washington D.C.) – Should the U.S. attack Syria? What are the potential remifications for the U.S. and the world? What are the key issues and arguments on all sides of this compelling questions -- and where do your representatives stand?
President Barack Obama has asked Congress for approval to launch a military air strike against Syria amid indications that the Syrian president used chemical weapons against civilians in his own country, including children. Today, the Senate Foreign RelationsCommittee voted 10-7 to approve limited authorization. Chairman John Kerry said there is "no question" that Syria used chemical weapons in violation of international law. The full Senate and the House of Representatives must both approve the action.
In the interest of providing our readers with a variety of views and information on this important issue, we’ve rounded up articles from around the world and across the nation in our special section below. Click any headline to view full text of these articles. We've even included "9 questions about Syria you were too embarassed to ask" for those who haven't kept up with the news on this emerging world crisis.
Syria news stories:
The two House leaders agree that the U.S. should respond militarily to Syrian President Bashar Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons. It's a rare bipartisanship.
Reactions from local politicians over whether or not the U.S. should conduct military actions in Syria trickled in Saturday evening after President Barack Obama announced that he would seek congressional approval before getting the nation involved in the war-torn country.
President Barack Obama stepped back from the brink on Saturday and delayed an imminent military strike against Syria to seek approval from the U.S. Congress in a gamble that will test his ability to project American strength abroad and deploy his own power at home.
Obama sends Congress Syria strike resolution (The Hill)
President Obama on Saturday sent Congress a draft resolution to authorize a military strike against Syria in response to the Assad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons. It calls for a strike consistent with international and U.S. law and a past United Nations nonproliferation resolution, phrasing that arrives as the U.S. has few international partners for its current plan.
If passed, it would give Obama power to use the military in a way he deems “necessary and appropriate” in connection with chemical weapons to deter their use, and to protect the U.S. and its “allies and partners” against the threat of such weapons.
Senate panel authorizes Syria strike (Al Jazeera)
…While broadly in line with Obama’s wishes, the resolution limits punitive missile strikes to 60 days -- with a possible 30-day extension if the president consults with Congress again. It also explicitly rules out the use of U.S. ground forces, though the administration had already said it would not put "boots on the ground." The authorization still faces significant resistance in Congress, where many lawmakers fear it could lead to a prolonged U.S. military involvement in Syria's two-year civil war and spark an escalation of regional violence. The full Senate is expected to vote on the resolution next week. The House of Representatives must also approve the measure.
The House will consider granting President Obama authorization to strike Syria the week of Sept. 9, House leaders said Saturday. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other members of his leadership team applauded Obama for seeking the authorization, but made no mention of bringing Congress back early to consider it.
All the signals from Washington suggest that military action against Syria is a strong possibility. Contingency plans are being drawn up, potential target lists are being reviewed and various military assets are being moved into position.
With every indication that the US - along with a small number of its allies - may be readying a punitive strike against Syrian government forces, an obvious question is what could Syria do to respond? How far could it defend itself against the sort of attack that is being planned? And what steps might it take to retaliate in some way?
9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask (Washington Post)
The United States and allies are preparing for a possibly imminent series of limited military strikes against Syria, the first direct U.S. intervention in the two-year civil war, in retaliation for President Bashar al-Assad’s suspected use of chemical weapons against civilians. If you found the above sentence kind of confusing, or aren’t exactly sure why Syria is fighting a civil war, or even where Syria is located, then this is the article for you.
Escalation in Syria (The Peace Blog)
The Obama administration lacks a public mandate for escalation in Syria. While the elites seem gripped by war fever, "barely one in four Americans back attacking Syria even if it’s proven poison gas was used on civilians.” And only ten percent of the British public favors sending even small weapons to Syria. Never in the decade of the War on Terrorism has the gap between elites and the public been wider. On the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice, the public mood is decidedly set on domestic priorities.
Any military action against Syria will have consequences beyond the region and leave Israel in flames, Iran's army chief of staff General Hassan Firouzabadi said in remarks reported Thursday.
Possible U.S. strike on Syria sparks rallies (U-T San Diego)
Protesters around the world took to the streets Saturday to protest for and against a possible U.S.-led attack on Syria, as President Barack Obama announced he would seek congressional approval for such a move.
(JPost) -- Military, security personnel vacate headquarters in capital in preparation for possible Western strike.
(Reuters) - If the United States attacks Syria, it will be the first time it strikes a country that is capable of waging retaliatory cyberspace attacks on American targets.
(Reuters) - The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and other ships in its strike group are heading west toward the Red Sea to help support a limited U.S. strike on Syria, if needed, defense officials said on Sunday. / The Nimitz carrier strike group, which includes four destroyers and a cruiser, has no specific orders to move to the eastern Mediterranean at this point, but is moving west in the Arabian Sea so it can do so if asked.
(Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has moved military equipment and personnel to civilian areas and put prisoners in military sites as human shields against any Western air strikes, the opposition said on Sunday.
(NPR) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin called U.S. claims that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons "utter nonsense" and urged the White House not to launch a retaliatory strike. / Putin, speaking to reporters in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok, said he was convinced that reports of a chemical attack against opponents of the Syrian regime are "nothing more than a provocation by those who want to drag other countries into the Syrian conflict, and who want to win the support of powerful members of the international arena, especially the United States." / Moscow, a key Syrian ally, has blocked a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force against Damascus.
(JPost) -- Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said the Syrian government, a strong ally of Tehran, had carried out a chemical weapons attack against its own people, the semi-official Iranian Labour News Agency reported on Sunday. His remarks differed sharply from those of other Iranian officials, who have said rebels trying to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad were responsible for a poison gas attack on the outskirts of Damascus on Aug. 21 that has drawn Western threats of military reprisals against the Syrian government.
(Reuters) - Arab states on Sunday urged the international community to take action against the Syrian government over a chemical gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians. / The final resolution passed by an Arab League meeting in Cairo urged the United Nations and international community to "take the deterrent and necessary measures against the culprits of this crime that the Syrian regime bears responsibility for".
Lebanon (JPost) -- Hezbollah said it would fire rockets at Israel if the West attacks Syria in an attempt to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad.
(Jewish World Review) -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday issued the starkest warning to date in response to recent saber-rattling by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, which has said it might respond to a U.S. strike by attacking Israel. "We are not part of the civil war in Syria, but if we identify any attempt whatsoever to harm us, we will respond with great force," Netanyahu said after huddling for a second consecutive day with key Cabinet members to discuss the possible ramifications of a U.S. strike against Syria.
(CS Monitor) -- Israelis have overwhelmed the military’s gas mask distribution network after warnings from Iran and Syria that Israel might be targeted for retaliation should the US attack Syria. They descended on handout centers and flooded information hotlines as Israel’s security cabinet approved a limited call-up of reservists and the army reportedly deployed more missile interceptor batteries in case of a rocket attack.