The Crisis Called Syria

The last several days have been riveting if you have been following the drama surrounding Syria. Here is a synopsis of some of the latest developments:

  • President Obama took his case public, telling America that he would ask Congress to pass a resolve to take limited military action on Syria. This, of itself, is quite ironic—the democratic president becoming a war hawk while various Republican senators have become pacifist doves.
  • The Obama Administration has been working the international diplomatic channels trying to muster support for an attack—all of this to send the Assad regime a clear message that it cannot use chemical weapons against its own. That Aug. 21 attack killed an estimated 1400 people, many of them women and children. There have been other reported smaller incidents of Assad using chemical weapons against his own citizens.
  • Senator McCain, in a town hall meeting in Arizona, encountered fierce opposition to any sort of military action in Syria. This is one of many surprising events—whether in America or in Europe—in which traditional lines of support appear to be smeared.
  • Newt Gingrich has gone public stating that any attack on Syria is an act of war on a sovereign nation. He is opposed to any military action.
  • If that isn’t enough irony, the normally docile French are more willing than the British or the Germans to launch missile strikes on Syria. Citizens of all European countries are decidedly against military action in Syria. In other words, it appears the world is willing to let what happens in Syria just go on.

Syrian refugees have put tremendous pressure on neighboring countries. In fact, Lebanon is all but overwhelmed with the refugee crises. It remains to be seen how Turkey, Jordan, Iran, and other neighboring countries will deal with the growing humanitarian crisis. Displaced Syrians exert tremendous pressure on the region and the problem is sure to worsen in the months ahead.

Opposition at the G20 Summit

The world is divided on what to do about the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons. U.S. President Barack Obama faced growing pressure from Russia’s Vladimir Putin and other world leaders at the G20 summit in Russia. The most vocal adversaries of any military action against Syria are (no surprise here) also Syria’s staunchest allies: China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran. The G20 summit is meant to address the world economy and the chief argument against an American or joint-nation attach is that it would hurt the global economy and push up oil prices.

Political analysts are saying the first round at the summit went to Putin, as China, the European Union, the BRICS emerging economies, and even Pope Francis (by letter) all warned against military intervention in Syria without the approval of the U.N. Security Council.

Obama blames forces loyal to Syrian President Assad for the poison gas attack in the Damascus suburbs that killed up to 1,400 people. Moscow says Obama has not proven that claim and says rebel forces may have carried it out.

Senator McCain refuted Putin’s claim, saying that in due time “irrefutable evidence” would be forthcoming and the whole world would see that Assad regime was, without question, responsible for the atrocities committed by a nation against its own citizens.

Some of Syria’s staunchest friends blasted what they call the “arrogance” of U.S.-led efforts to strike the war-torn nation and said those who do will pay a steep price.

It raises the question of whether Syria would have the capability to threaten any US or other participating nation assets in the region. Syria has at least 20 P-800 Oniks/Yakhont anti-ship missiles, which could pose a threat to any US ships. But the missile has a range of only 62 to 186 miles (100 to 300 kilometers), depending upon its flight profile.

Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had some of the harshest criticism for the United States and President Obama on Thursday. His assertion was that the US has no right to make “humanitarian claims (given) their track record” in Iraq, Afghanistan and at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Syrian problem is one that has polarized world opinion. Meanwhile, the tragedy continues to mount and worsen day by agonizing day. If the world does nothing, what will it mean to the way Assad continues with his side of the war? If the world does anything, what will it be and how will that decision play out in a world arena?

Expect more heartache and more controversy while the crisis that is Syria deepens by the hour. Nations and citizens of nations want to keep neutrality. I can’t imagine how they world can watch and wait and not expect the Middle East to deteriorate around this Syrian situation.

In this nation we continue to debate what to do about Syria. With all that is happening in the world, it does not yet appear certain what we will decide to do. I think of tiny Israel in all of this. Israel is directly affected by the Syrian civil war and its implications. Israel has already responded with military action when it felt to act.

Israel is shaped by a world-view that requires it know at all times what it must do and how it must act. I think how the rest of the world must covet this simple ability to act.

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