The president suggested that he even sees a potential role for Iran in helping to stabilize Syria, despite reports that Iranian fighters have been streaming into the country to support the Assad regime.
Obama confirmed publicly for the first time on “This Week” that he has exchanged letters with new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, who has vowed to act forcefully to prevent any Western military intervention in Syria, using “all efforts to prevent it.” […]
“I think this new president is not going to suddenly make it easy,” he added. “But you know, my view is that if you have both a credible threat of force, combined with a rigorous diplomatic effort, that, in fact … you can strike a deal.”
Interesting and pretty bold move, striking up a conversation with the new Iranian president Rouhani. But what we don’t know is if it’ll amount to anything.
9:38 // 10 months ago
sturtlovinggood says: Syria?
» SFB says: Of mixed mind on the issue other than to say, it sucks for everyone—particularly the people currently suffering and in fear within the country, who get lost in the mix whenever we hear about the drama between Russia and the U.S. I think the Obama administration, if they’re gonna make an issue of it, needs to look beyond chemical weapons and at the numerous violent incidents that have taken place over the past few years. I don’t like war, but Syria isn’t getting any better and the international community has to figure out some way to ease this situation without washing their hands of it. Last point: I think that Obama was right to ask for a vote in Congress. I hope he follows whatever guidance Capitol Hill has to offer. — Ernie @ SFB
22:58 // 10 months ago
The CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria, ending months of delay in lethal aid that had been promised by the Obama administration, according to U.S. officials and Syrian figures. The shipments began streaming into the country over the past two weeks, along with separate deliveries by the State Department of vehicles and other gear — a flow of material that marks a major escalation of the U.S. role in Syria’s civil war.
The arms shipments, which are limited to light weapons and other munitions that can be tracked, began arriving in Syria at a moment of heightened tensions over threats by President Obama to order missile strikes to punish the regime of Bashar al-Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons in a deadly attack near Damascus last month.
The arms are being delivered as the United States is also shipping new types of nonlethal gear to rebels. That aid includes vehicles, sophisticated communications equipment and advanced combat medical kits.
The supplies were originally promised back in April; however, the United States delayed delivery in recent months while the UN investigated a number of atrocities being reported by both the Syrian government and opposition fighters.
15:13 // 10 months ago
However, over the last few days we’ve seen some encouraging signs in part because of the credible threat of U.S. military action as well as constructive talks that I had with President Putin. The Russian government has indicated a willingness to join with the international community in pushing Assad to give up his chemical weapons. The Assad regime has now admitted that it has these weapons and even said they’d join the chemical weapons convention, which prohibits their use.
It’s too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments. But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad’s strongest allies.
I have therefore asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path. I’m sending Secretary of State John Kerry to met his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin. I’ve spoken to the leaders of two of our closet allies, France and the United Kingdom. And we will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons and to ultimately destroy them under international control.
It’ll be interesting to see how this diplomatic path holds up. This feels like a weak thread but we’re not past the point where it can be reinforced.
21:30 // 10 months ago
Bashar al-Assad’s former defense minister has reached Istanbul after a defection that betrays cracks in the president’s support among his own Alawite sect, opposition and diplomatic sources said on Thursday.
Dismissing a cursory Syrian state television denial of the first Reuters report that General Ali Habib had been spirited across the Turkish frontier this week, opposition figures said Habib was likely to keep a low profile after evading house arrest and reaching Turkey with the aid of Western agents.
One prominent opposition figure also spoke of speculation that Habib, who is in his 70s and apparently broke with Assad after a crackdown on protesters in 2011, might be lined up by U.S. and Russian officials for a role in transitional arrangements to negotiate an end to the civil war.
The Turkish government has yet to confirm the general’s presence inside Turkey; however, Reuters notes that Habib has not been seen in public all week. If the reports are true, it would easily be one of the most high-profile defections to occur since the Syrian civil war began more than two years ago.
14:43 // 10 months ago