Marwan Bishara discusses the implications for the international community of potential chemical weapons use in Syria.
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2013 17:55
Bishara discusses why Assad may or may not have used chemical weapons.
What explains the impotence of the international community to act on Syria?
Over the last half a century, the international community's will to act in such circumstances has been dependent on the power and will of the United States.
But the Obama administration has made it abundantly clear in the past that it was not going to intervene militarily in Syria despite the political noise from Congress and the Washington pundits.
The conventional wisdom being, the White House is preoccupied by its domestic agenda, and terribly reluctant to intervene militarily after the fiascos of Afghanistan and Iraq, especially when none of its vital interests are threatened.
Indeed, until recently, the opposite has been true. In other words, not intervening seemed to serve US interest regardless of the human cost to Syrians.
There was no harm in watching from the sidelines as Syria, long America's nemesis and Israel's foresworn enemy, is terribly weakened, while Iran and Hezbollah are humiliated and losing support in the Arab world.
However, sustained Russian and Iranian support to Assad has turned the tables on the opposition and on America's calculations.
If Obama was reluctant to intervene or provide support for the opposition that ends up in the hands of "extremist Jihadis", today, Washington has every strategic reason to save face.
But President Obama's administration is choosing his foreign battles carefully and prefers not to be drawn into a dirt fight with Assad, Putin, and Khamenei.
Source: Al Jazeera
Syrian rebel forces have taken control of a strategic town in northern Syria, cutting off government forces' only supply route out of the city of Aleppo, the Syrian Observator for Human Rights has said.
Meanwhile, residents in the central province of Homs said rebels also tried on Monday to retake the strategic town of Talkalakh, 4km from Lebanon's northern border. Its capture would allow rebels in the Homs countryside to replenish their supplies.
For weeks, Assad's forces had been on the offensive in Homs, a province they consider vital to securing their hold from Damascus to the president's coastal stronghold.
The coast is home to a large number of Assad's Alawite minority sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam, who are seen to be supportive of the president.
Sectarian violence has increasingly overtaken a conflict that began as peaceful protests against four decades of Assad family rule but has now become an all-out civil war.
The sectarian dimension of the conflict has drawn in foreign fighters from neighbouring countries. Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah has sent fighters to join Assad's forces, angering Sunni Muslims in Lebanon and the region.
Read more: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/08/2013826124946176888.html
By Lesley Wroughton
WASHINGTON | Sat Aug 24, 2013 8:32pm EDT
(Reuters) - Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention in Syria's civil war and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if reports that Syria's government used deadly chemicals to attack civilians are confirmed, a Reuters/Ipsos poll says.
About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria's civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act.
More Americans would back intervention if it is established that chemical weapons have been used, but even that support has dipped in recent days - just as Syria's civil war has escalated and the images of hundreds of civilians allegedly killed by chemicals appeared on television screens and the Internet.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll, taken August 19-23, found that 25 percent of Americans would support U.S. intervention if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces used chemicals to attack civilians, while 46 percent would oppose it. That represented a decline in backing for U.S. action since August 13, when Reuters/Ipsos tracking polls found that 30.2 percent of Americans supported intervention in Syria if chemicals had been used, while 41.6 percent did not.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Cans are seen tied to the back of Proposition 8 plaintiffs Jeff Zarillo and Paul Katami during the Annual Pride Parade in San Francisco, CA
(08-14) 14:51 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- The state Supreme Court gave its final approval Wednesday to the rights of gays and lesbians to marry, dismissing an appeal by sponsors of the 2008 initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California.
The justices unanimously denied review of a suit by conservative Christians who put Proposition 8 on the ballot and argued that it remains in effect statewide, despite a federal judge's 2010 ruling in San Francisco that declared it unconstitutional.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/State-court-gives-final-OK-to-gay-marriage-4732959.php