US President Barack Obama has said that he had not yet decided whether to attack Syria in the aftermath of the Assad regime allegedly using chemical weapons against its own people on August 21.
“We have not yet made a decision,but the international norm against the use of chemical weapons needs to be kept in place.
“Hardly anybody disputes that chemical weapons were used on a large scale in Syria against civilian populations,” Obama told the PBS News Hour in an interview yesterday.
“We have looked at all the evidence,and we do not believe the opposition possessed nuclear weapons or chemical weapons of that sort.
“We do not believe that,given the delivery systems,using rockets,that the opposition could have carried out these attacks. We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out. And if that’s so,then there need to be international consequences,” Obama asserted in response to a question.
As such the US is consulting its allies. “We’re consulting with the international community. And you know,I have no interest in any kind of open-ended conflict in Syria,but we do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on weapons like chemical weapons that could threaten us,that they are held accountable,” he said.
“I have not made a decision,but I think it¿s important that if,in fact,we make a choice to have repercussions for the use of chemical weapons,then the Assad regime,which is involved in a civil war,trying to protect itself,will have received a pretty strong signal,that in fact,it better not do it again,” he said.
Obama hoped that ultimately,a political transition can take place inside of Syria. “We are prepared to work with anybody the Russians and others to try to bring the parties together to resolve the conflict,” he said.
Obama said the Assad regime there has been killing its own people by the tens of thousands,that there are sectarian arguments that have spilled over into bloodshed and have escalated over the last couple of years.
“And although whats happened there is tragic,and although I have called for Assad to leave and make sure that we got a transitional government that could be inclusive in Syria,what I’ve also concluded is that direct military engagement,involvement in the civil war in Syria,would not help the situation on the ground,” he said.
“Syria has one of the largest stockpiles in the world of chemical weapons. This is a volatile country in a very volatile region,” Obama said.
Referring to the death of hundreds of people in Syria due to chemical attacks,Obama said what has happened has been heartbreaking.
“But when you start talking about chemical weapons in a country that has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world,where over time,their control over chemical weapons may erode,where they are allied to known terrorist organisations that,in the past,have targeted the United States,then there is a prospect,a possibility,in which chemical weapons that can have devastating effects could be directed at us.
And we want to make sure that that does not happen,” he said. “There’s a reason why consistently,you know,the rules of war have suggested that the use of chemical weapons violates Geneva Protocols,” he said.
“And if,in fact,we can take limited,tailored approaches,not getting drawn into a long conflict,not a repetition of,you know,Iraq,which I know a lot of people are worried about and may have a positive impact in the sense civilians,” Obama added.