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Russia and Syria Issue Warnings as U.S. Warships Poised to Strike
August 27, 2013
Both the United States and United Kingdom have placed military hardware near Syria in anticipation of a possible upcoming strike which is looking increasingly likely after Secretary of State John Kerry’s statements earlier Monday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that a Western military attack on Syria would only result in more problems in the region and lead to more bloodshed, according to The Washington Post.
Lavrov also said that an attack would be the same kind of “catastrophe” as the interventions in Iraq and Libya, while a senior Syrian official said that they will defend itself against any international attack, according to CBS News.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad told the Associated Press that airstrikes or other military action would not only trigger “chaos” and would also threaten peace and security worldwide.
Currently, officials in Washington are assessing their various options for an attack which would “probably last no more than two days and involve sea-launched cruise missiles — or, possibly, long-range bombers — striking military targets not directly related to Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal,” according to The Washington Post.
The factors reportedly involved in the decision are:
1. The findings of a yet-to-be-completed intelligence report evaluating any culpability on the part of the Syrian government in the alleged chemical attack last week
2. Consultation with allied nations and Congress, both of which are ongoing
3. The determination of a justification for the strike under international law
In his statements, Kerry said that the UN investigation of the chemical attack isn’t informing their current statements.
Kerry noted that although the UN investigators continue to gather “additional evidence on the ground, our understanding of what has already happened in Syria is grounded in facts, informed by conscience and guided by common sense.”
“We have additional information about this attack, and that information is being compiled and reviewed together with our partners, and we will provide that information in the days ahead,” Kerry said.
The Post summed up Kerry’s statement as “part of an escalating administration drumbeat, which is likely to include a public statement by Obama in coming days.”
CBS News speaks of the strike in Syria as a certainty.
“Any final decisions haven’t been made, but senior administration officials talk of Syria now as a place where the U.S. and its allies must exact a military price for heavy use of chemical weapons,” CBS reports.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) expects that a “response” – which most likely means a military strike – is imminent.
“I think a response is imminent. I talked last evening in the situation room and we’re building support with NATO allies,” Corker said on Monday morning.
While Russia is currently one of the greatest obstacles in the way of Western intervention and a significant Syrian ally, Saudi Arabia is attempting to make that change.
If Russia backs away from Assad, Saudi Arabia reportedly offered a secret deal “to control the global oil market and safeguard Russia’s gas contracts,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Leaked transcripts of a conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan revealed a quite disturbing conversation.
Bandar allegedly promised to protect Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad government falls and also protect the Sochi Olympics if they agree to a deal.
“I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the Games are controlled by us,” Prince Bandar allegedly said.
“We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role in Syria’s political future,” he reportedly said.
If this is accurate, it is a quite amazing, though not all that surprising, statement. It remains to be seen if Russia will back away from Syria in the coming days. For now, they seem to be standing behind Assad.
Putin reportedly told British Prime Minister David Cameron earlier Monday that there is no evidence that Assad’s forces were behind the alleged chemical attack.
If Russia suddenly stops opposing Western intervention in Syria, the last real obstacle would be removed.
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