Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding

News, September 2013


Al-Jazeerah History


Mission & Name  

Conflict Terminology  


Gaza Holocaust  

Gulf War  




News Photos  

Opinion Editorials

US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)




Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.


Obama Puts off Syria Strike Amid Fresh Diplomatic Push

Putin: Syria chem arms handover will work only if US calls off strike

RT, September 11, 2013, 09:35

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Syria’s chemical arms handover will only work if the US and its allies renounce the use of force against Damascus.
Follow RT's Live Updates

"Of course, all of this will only mean anything if the United States and other nations supporting it tell us that they're giving up their plan to use force against Syria. You can’t really ask Syria, or any other country, to disarm unilaterally while military action against it is being contemplated," President Putin said on Tuesday.
President Putin said that the matter of bringing Syria’s chemical weapons under international control has long been a subject of discussion by experts and politicians.

Putin confirmed that he and President Barack Obama had “indeed discussed” such a possibility on the sidelines of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg last week.

It was agreed, Putin said, “to instruct Secretary of State [John Kerry] and Foreign Minister [Sergey Lavrov] to work together and see if they can achieve some progress in this regard."
President Putin’s comments came shortly after the Syrian government said it would agree to place its chemical weapons arsenal under international control. 
On Tuesday, Britain, France and the US said they would table a resolution on Syrian chemical weapons to the UN Security Council later in the day.  

An emergency closed-door meeting at the Security Council is scheduled to take place at 4:00pm EST (20:00 GMT), the UN press office said.

"If this is a serious proposal, then we should act accordingly and I think a UN Security Council resolution is a good idea," British Prime Minister David Cameron said.

However, the US and France said they would not rule out any possible reaction to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Interfax cited the Elysee Palace as saying in a statement.

According to the news agency, “the presidents of France and the US reiterated that they would prefer a diplomatic solution, but they have also expressed willingness to retain any other options to neutralize the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal.”   

Russia’s Foreign Ministry will propose a draft statement by the chairman of the UN Security Council, supporting the initiative to transfer Syria’s chemical weapons to international control.

The issue was discussed during a phone conversation between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius.

“[Lavrov] said that Russia, on its part, is submitting a draft statement for the UN Security Council’s chairman, welcoming the… initiative and calling on the UN Secretary General, the general director of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and all the interested parties to make efforts to facilitate the implementation of this proposal,” the ministry’s statement said. 
At the same time, Syria said it was ready to completely give up chemical weapons and sign the Chemical Weapons Convention.

“We are ready to show sites with chemical arsenals to Russia’s representatives, as well as representatives of other states and the UN,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV.

Despite voicing “some serious skepticism,” Western countries supported Russia's proposal, stressing the importance of Assad fulfilling the agreement and surrendering the weapons stockpiles.

Britain said it would like Russia and Syria to show that the proposal to President Bashar Assad is “serious and genuine.”

In Washington, the White House echoed the UK statement, saying it wanted to verify that Syria was serious in its intentions.

Earlier, the French government said that the handover of Syria’s chemical weapons to international control should be closely scrutinized. France said it would table a draft resolution to the UN Security Council calling on Syria to give up its stockpiles of chemical arms, threatening "extremely serious" consequences if Syria violates its conditions.

Obama’s administration, which last week was firmly insisting on military intervention following the Aug.21 chemical weapons attack, has now changed its position.  

In response to Russia’s proposal, Obama said he was willing to “absolutely” put on pause a military strike on Syria if Assad accepts the offer.

The US Senate was initially scheduled to vote on whether to authorize “limited military actions,” but a Senate Democratic leadership aide said it was now not known if the Senate would vote this week on Syria.

"We want to give the president a chance to make his case," the aide said, adding that following President Obama’s speech Tuesday night, Senate leaders would review the situation.

Obama Puts off Syria Strike Amid Fresh Diplomatic Push

By FRANCE 24 (text), September 11, 2013 

US President Barack Obama said in a televised speech late Tuesday that he has asked Congress to delay voting on US military action in Syria, saying that a Russia-backed initiative to neutralise Syria's chemical weapons should be given a chance.

US President Barack Obama postponed the possibility of military strikes on Syria Tuesday, vowing to explore a fresh diplomatic push to gather and destroy Syria’s chemical arsenal.

In an address from the White House late Tuesday, Obama said he had asked US lawmakers to delay a vote on whether to authorise military action while Washington studies the Russia-backed initiative.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said Tuesday that Damascus had "already agreed" to the proposal.


FRANCE 24 'A targeted strike to achieve a clear objective.'

Obama said he would stay in personal contact with Russia's President Vladimir Putin and would dispatch Secretary of State John Kerry to Geneva for talks on Thursday with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

"It's too early to tell whether this offer will succeed,” Obama warned. “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."

Obama said he had ordered US forces to remain on standby should talks fail, but set no deadlines for diplomacy to run its course.

“This speech was supposed to be about Obama convincing the public and congressmen that a military intervention in Syria is the right choice," said FRANCE 24's Washington correspondent Philip Crowther. "But Russia's move means the speech evolved into something entirely different.” A deterrent for tyrants

The Russian offer has given Obama a lifeline as he fights an uphill battle to persuade Congress and the American public to support a strike on Syria.

Obama made his threat of strikes in response to an August 21 attack in which Syrian forces killed 1,400 people in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus using sarin gas, according to Washington.

"Speech opens up two tracks" By Philip CROWTHER reporting from Washington DC

He defended the military option again Tuesday in an emotional passage about the horrors of the massacre, and said allowing a dictator to use chemical arms would threaten US security.

"If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons," Obama said. "As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas and using them."

FRANCE 24's chief foreign editor Robert Parsons said the US president delivered a strong message on national security.

“Obama said we have to accept that if Assad were to get away with the use of chemical weapons on this massive scale, then he and others – not just dictators but also terrorist organisations – would be encouraged to go even further,” Parsons said.

However, the US president pledged not to use military force until United Nations weapons inspectors have delivered their report on what happened.

Obama also stressed that any US military action would be limited, nothing like the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that he has spent much of his presidency winding down.

SYRIA-CHEMICAL WEAPONS The challenge of dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons

“No American troops will be on the ground in Syria if action is taken,” Obama said.

Back to the UN

Earlier on Tuesday, Syria promised to abide by Russia’s proposal and renounce chemical weapons.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem told Russia's Interfax news agency: "We are ready to state where the chemical weapons are, to halt production of chemical weapons and show these installations to representatives of Russia, other countries and the UN."

Putin, Assad's most powerful foreign ally, said the Syrian offer could end the crisis, but only if the United States withdraws its threat to take punitive action.

"It all makes sense and can work if the US side and all those who support it renounce the use of force," Putin said, according to Russian television.

Washington's allies France and Britain said they were drawing up a tough UN resolution that would authorise enforcement action if Syria failed to hand over its weapons.

"It will provide for extremely serious consequences in the event of Syria violating its obligations," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

The Syrian crisis flared when Assad's forces launched a brutal crackdown on anti-regime protests in March 2011, and spiralled into a civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people.


Fair Use Notice

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.




Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah & &