As the Western drum beats war threats against Syria, the Obama administration is having difficulty convincing its Arab allies to publicly support military intervention.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Arab leaders said Tuesday that Syria had used chemical weapons against its population, while Western governments discussed military responses to the attacks, bolstering the case for U.S. military strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The Arab League demanded an international response to what it called the “heinous crime” of last week’s alleged chemical attack near Damascus that activists and rebels said left more than 1,000 Syrians dead. But the major Arab allies of the U.S. have stopped short of offering public support for a strike without international backing, reflecting broad unease in the region about another Western military intervention, the Wall Street Journal reports.
US Finds Support Among Western European Allies
According to The New York Times, the Obama administration has robust European backing and more muted Arab support for a strike on Syria. The position of the Arab League and the unlikelihood of securing authorization from the United Nations Security Council complicate the legal and diplomatic case for the White House.
The White House said Tuesday that there was “no doubt” that Assad’s government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack — an assessment shared by Britain, France and other allies — but it has yet to make clear if it has any intelligence directly linking Assad to the attack. The administration said it planned to provide intelligence on the attack later this week, the Times reported.
Obama sought to shore up international support for military action, telephoning Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain. Administration officials said they did not regard the lack of an imprimatur from the Security Council or the Arab League as insurmountable hurdles, given the carnage last week, the report said.
A Warning From Russia
A Western military attack on Syria would only create more problems in the region, lead to more bloodshed and could result in the same sort of “catastrophe” as previous interventions in Iraq and Libya, said Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, on Monday, according to the Washington Post.
“Hysteria is growing, and confrontation is incited,” Lavrov said, in what he portrayed as an emergency news conference. He said the U.S. and its European allies have condemned Assad regime without any evidence that it actually used chemical weapons in an attack in the Damascus suburbs on Wednesday, the Post reported.