26 August 2013, 15:01

'US military strike against Syria is not a settled matter' - expert

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Russia has urged the United States to refrain from exerting military pressure on Damascus. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry, reminded him of the dire consequences of new military intervention for the entire Middle East and North African region. He cited the examples of Iraq and Libya. Given the current circumstances, does the West really want Syria to become a second Iraq? There is no definite answer to that question, said analyst Leonid Isayev, when asked by the Voice of Russia to comment on the issue. 

“With Iraq, the Americans made a mistake, which forced them to acknowledge later that no chemical weapons had been found there. That was a big blow to President George W. Bush and America’s image. I think that they will act more cautiously now,” he said.

The Pentagon has meantime contrived a plan for a military operation against Damascus with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel saying that the plan will go ahead as soon as President Barack Obama gives his orders.

British Prime Minister David Cameron doubts, however, that the proposed military intervention will win the UN Security Council’s approval as Russia and China are certain to veto any such initiative.

The US is evidently expecting a UN fact-finding mission, which is currently probing the alleged use on August 21 of chemical weapons outside Damascus, to come up with anti-Assad evidence. The Syrian government and the rebels blamed each other for the incident that allegedly left between 300 and 1,300 people dead, according to various sources.

After a slight hesitation, Damascus agreed to allow UN inspectors to visit the scene of the attack in a move that visibly disappointed Washington as it immediately announced that time had already been lost. Thus, whatever the results of the investigation, the White House, in fact, already discredited them in advance, while on the other hand, by threatening to respond militarily, it sent a clear message to the UN mission as to what kind of results it was expecting from it.

“For the US to have no scruples about intruding into Syria, it must have the unanimous backing of the UN chemical weapons commission. I am afraid this result won’t come easily. After all, this is the most impartial commission in the world,” Leonid Isayev said.

Barack Obama is in an awkward situation. Some time ago, he warned Syria that using chemical weapons would be crossing the “read line”. And although there is no proof whatsoever of the Syrian military firing war chemicals, opponents of the Assad regime keep reminding Obama of his warning.

Intervening in Syria now is not in US interests. Perhaps the US really wants Bashar al-Assad to be removed. But who will come after him? Merely replacing one leader with another could plunge Syria into chaos, making things worse for Israel. Also, a military operation in Syria may prove too costly for the US sequestered budget. That’s probably why President Obama is taking his time, Sergei Demidenko, a research fellow with the Institute for Strategic Assessments and Analysis, told the Voice of Russia.

“Russian and US diplomats are scheduled to meet on August 28 to discuss preparations for an international conference on Syria. So far, this meeting has not been cancelled, which indicates that a military strike against Syria is not a settled matter,” he said.

Moscow has cautioned Washington against a military adventure in Syria. Any unilateral use of force by-passing the UN will undermine international efforts in the Middle East and escalate tensions across the region.

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