(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada – September 3, 2013: 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 U.S.’s major Arab allies have stopped short of offering public support for a strike without international backing, reflecting broad unease in the region about another Western military intervention.
This suggests the U.S. would face no opposition from regional allies if things go smoothly, and leaves Arab governments with political cover if things go badly.
“Don’t expect a big cheer from us,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, a political-science professor in Dubai, of the likely response from the region. “If the results are fine, and the damage is very limited, I think that is gonna be a good sign. Maybe, ‘Wow, give America a D.’ ”
The U.S. is examining ways to attack Syria without the approval of the United Nations, where Russia would likely veto any military action, U.S. and European officials have said. The Obama administration has recently stepped up contacts with North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Arab League allies about supporting a military operation against Damascus. On Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke with his opposites in France and the U.K., according to defense officials.
The U.S. Defense Department has presented military options to President Barack Obama, Mr. Hagel said, without outlining them. Defense officials have said the U.S. is considering cruise-missile strikes from navy ships in the Mediterranean.
“We are ready to go,” Mr. Hagel said.
Arab League delegates on Tuesday urged the U.N. Security Council, rather than the West, to take “deterrent” action against Syria to prevent a repeat of alleged chemical attacks on Aug. 21 in the suburbs of Damascus.