Obama administration still mulling action in Syria

Obama gathered his team on the weekend to review options in Syria, but seems intent on waiting for UN investigation and US intelligence officials' analysis to finalize his decision

Obama administration still mulling action in Syria

World Bulletin/News Desk

US President Barack Obama met with his national security team on the weekend to discuss his options in Syria, but he seems decided to postpone making a final decision until the UN investigation and US intelligence officials' analysis are complete.

The US wants to adopt a multilateral approach in responding to the latest crisis in Syria that saw one of the deadliest chemical weapons attacks in decades. President Obama and the top US diplomat John Kerry recently communicated with several of their key counterparts to consider "possible responses by the international community."

US officials have detected use of chemical weapons in Syria before, but the latest attack on 21 August that killed upwards of 1,300 people seem to have changed the rules of the game and brought Obama slightly closer to giving the firm response that having crossed his 'red line' would require.

If the Syrian government is found to be responsible, Obama is expected to push for an international move, while trying to convince a skeptical Russia that thinks the rebels launched the attack to pressurize embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

Either way, the US has "little doubt" that Assad's forces carried out the poison gas attack, as it believes the rebels don't have the capacity and Syria's permission for the UN team to investigate the attack is "too late to be credible."

US’s top military officer General Martin Dempsey explained last month several options for US military action in Syria. These include enhanced assistance to the opposition, conducting limited remote strikes, establishing a no-fly zone over Syria, creating buffer zones across borders with Turkey and Jordan, and controlling chemical weapons.

The US has repeatedly written off the possibility of having troops on the ground, but a no-fly zone as explained by Dempsey necessitates thousands of US troops, even if positioned outside Syria.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said during his visit to Malaysia that the US was "prepared to exercise whatever option - if [Obama] decides to employ one of those options."

The last US intelligence research into allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria had taken two months, which has brought criticism on the Obama administration for looking determined to await analysis reports for its final decision.

The US has nearly thousand troops, missile batteries, and a dozen F-16 fighter jets currently stationed in Jordan. Some say these might be deployed in Syria in the case of a military operation.

On the other hand, the US has bolstered its presence in the Mediterranean with another aircraft carrier, which has led to speculation it might consider the option of using missiles.

The US's concerns about action in Syria have not abated. Obama does not want to be embroiled in yet another war after Iraq and Afghanistan.

In an earlier letter to US Congress, General Dempsey said there was no group among the opposition that would support the US if they came to power.

Obama now grapples with the question of whether going into Syria or keeping out would cost him more.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Ağustos 2013, 14:37