Obama waits for congress vote on Syria
The US president appeared to perform a U-turn on Syria on Sunday as the White House has now asked congress for authorisation over military intervention.
Obama stressed that the operation was not “time sensitive” as congressional leaders have agreed to hold a vote when lawmakers return to Washington on September 9th. An attack would be “effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now,” he said.
However, there is no guarantee that an agreement could be reached as congress is reportedly divided on the issue with some democrats urging the president to wait for the UN’s report on the alleged chemical attack that took place in Damascus on August 21st and left more than 1500 dead according to the American administration.
Obama has stated that while he believed the government had the authority to launch strikes without consulting the congress, he was mindful of the importance of winning democratic support for the intervention.
“As a consequence, many people have advised against taking this decision to Congress, and undoubtedly they were impacted by what we saw happen in the United Kingdom this week when the Parliament of our closest ally failed to pass a resolution with a similar goal, even as the prime minister supported taking action”, Obama said.
It has become increasingly clear that the general public in America is against a military intervention. Nearly 80 per cent of Americans believe President Barack Obama should receive congressional approval before using force in Syria according to a new NBC news poll.
Opposition activists in Syria said the US president’s decision to delay the strikes came as a surprise and could embolden the Syrian regime to carry out more attacks on the civilian population.
Meanwhile, China and Russia reiterated their support for Assad’s regime. Russian president Vladimir Putin is fiercely opposed to a Western intervention and even questioned the regime’s responsibility in the alleged chemical attack saying it would be “utter nonsense” for government troops to use such tactics in a war it was already winning.
Obama stressed that any intervention in Syria wouldn’t be open-ended or aim for regime change but could be used a means to force Assad to reach a political compromise.