21 August 2012, 15:20

US issues new Syria ultimatum

US issues new Syria ultimatum
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The United States has threatened Syria with military action regardless of UN backing. A statement to this effect was made on Monday by US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland who made it plain that Washington will brief the new UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, on the matter.

Brahimi has, in turn, repeatedly stressed the necessity of his peacekeeping mission being endorsed by developed countries. According to Victoria Nuland, the US will try to make Brahimi believe that the UN allegedly exhausted all possibilities to resolve the Syrian crisis. In this connection, it is worth mentioning the international community’s failed attempt to break the Syrian deadlock, especially after the resignation of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan who admitted the lack of unanimous support of his mission in Syria by major international players.

All signs are that the US is keen to deal a new blow to the UN’s authority related to overcoming crises, says Alexei Podtserob, of the Moscow-based Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

"It’s not surprising that Nuland made such a statement," Podtserovb says. "Americans had more than once resorted to the use of force without paying attention to the UN’s decisions. Suffice it to mention the US’ invasions of Panama and Grenada, as well as its aggressions against Yugoslavia and Iran in 1999 and 2003, respectively. As for the 2003 aggression, it was staged under a clearly trumped-up pretext of Sadam Hussein possessing biological and chemical weapons. That aggression was never endorsed by the UN either. As for a possible strike on Syria, it may be fraught with serious repercussions, right down to a full-fledged war," Podtserob warns. "Even though Syria will certainly be unable to contain the US, I’m sure that Syrians will fight up to the last ditch, something that means that this will be a new and very bloody war in the Middle East."

Speaking at a news briefing in Washington on Monday, President Barack Obama also warned of a possible intervention against Syria. He said that a decree to this effect has not yet been issued. At the same time, Obama threatened to change his stance in case of Damascus using chemical or biological weapons. This is little more than a new ultimatum to Damascus and a challenge to the international community which has a spate of conventions-leaning mechanisms to prevent countries from using weapons of mass destruction.

It is these mechanisms that should be used in contacts with Damascus as soon as possible, in view of an ever-increasing threat of Syria’s WMD seizing by al-Qaeda militants. Paradoxically, the US can help them fulfill this task given Washington’s support of the armed Syrian opposition leaning more and more on al-Qaeda fighters. For their part, Americans have repeatedly denied information about their lending a military support to Syrian opposition. At the same time, Washington welcomes efforts by Saudi Arabia and Qatar to shore up Syrian rebels who are also supported by Turkey and Libya which continue to send more militants and arms to Syria. In this regard, a close collaboration between Syrian opposition and al-Qaeda is only natural, says Boris Dolgov, another analyst from the Institute for Oriental Studies in Moscow.

"Afghanistan, Yemen and the US are fighting al-Qaeda which is perceived as Number One Enemy there," Dolgov says. "At the same time, Washington is, in fact, backing al-Qaeda’s effort in Syria, something that was also the case with Washington’s accretions with respect to Afghanistan and Lebanon. During a civil war in Afghanistan, US special services supported Osama bin Laden who was referred as an ‘influence agent of the United States.’ Right now, Washington along with leading NATO countries are trying to prod radical Islamists to topple the Assad regime in Syria, not least with the help of al-Qaeda. Of course, the US pursues its own interests when interacting with the Islamists," Dolgov says, referring to Washington’s similar attempts in Afghanistan. All this may well lead to grave consequences, Dolgov concludes, cautioning the US against playing with fire.

On Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry, in turn, warned against arms trafficking in Syria, citing Libya, Turkey and Lebanon which turned into ‘channels of arms supplies to Syrian opposition.’

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