From this past Sunday’s Bobblehead shows…
…Lawmakers sought to remind viewers on Sunday news programs of Obama’s declaration while discouraging a U.S. foothold on the ground there.
“The president has laid down the line, and it can’t be a dotted line. It can’t be anything other than a red line,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican. “And more than just Syria, Iran is paying attention to this. North Korea is paying attention to this.” Added Sen. Saxby Chambliss, also a Republican: “For America to sit on the sidelines and do nothing is a huge mistake.”
…But Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat, said Sunday the United States needs to consider those weapons. She said that when Assad leaves power, his opponents could have access to those weapons or they could fall into the hands of U.S. enemies.
“The day after Assad is the day that these chemical weapons could be at risk… [and] we could be in bigger, even bigger trouble,” she said…
…”The worst thing the United States could do right now is put boots on the ground on Syria. That would turn the people against us,” said McCain, the Republican who lost the 2008 presidential election to Obama.
His friend, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, also said the United States could safeguard the weapons without a ground force. But he cautioned the weapons must be protected for fear that Americans could be targeted. Raising the specter of the lethal bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Graham said the next attack on U.S. soil could employ weapons that were once part of Assad’s arsenal.
“Chemical weapons — enough to kill millions of people — are going to be compromised and fall into the wrong hands, and the next bomb that goes off in America may not have nails and glass in it,” he said…
…The United Nations and the Secretary General have been notified about alleged chemical weapons use in Syria by American politicians. In response, a spokesman for the UN chief warned that “the United Nations is not in a position to comment on assessments based on national intelligence information.”
But a team of UN advisers “have been in contact with the US authorities on the latest developments,” the spokesperson for the Secretary-General said in a statement.
The statement added that a “technical expert team to conduct a fact-finding mission” has been put together and is on standby, ready to begin work in “24-48 hours.”
So far the expert team is still awaiting its marching orders, after UN chief Ban Ki-moon promised the probe in late March, following an official request by the Syrian authorities to appoint an independent mission to investigate the alleged chemical attack that claimed lives of at least 25 people on March 19.
Although following the Syrian plea, the United Nations said the team would not include experts from Russia and China to ensure it wasn’t biased. Russian EU envoy Vitaly Churkin criticized “this kind of logic” saying in that case he “would recommend excluding all NATO countries too.”
Following this development, in early April, Syria refused to let the UN proposed team enter Syria as it – contrary to the Syrian request – was planning to deploy “throughout Syrian territory” and not at particular locations of alleged attacks. “Syria cannot accept such manoeuvres on the part of the UN secretariat general, bearing in mind the negative role that it played in Iraq and which cleared the way for the American invasion,” a Syrian foreign ministry official explained at the time.
The official stressed that Syria had specifically asked for “a neutral and honest technical team to visit the village of Khan al-Assal” in the province of Aleppo…
…Speculation on chemical weapons in Syria has flared up. The White House has stated that the government troops may have used them against the rebels. The international community is divided on whether to send an investigation panel to the country.
Amateur videos have sprung up online, showing various victims of chemical gas. This come after Washington’s accusation that Damascus has used chemical weapons.
One video shows people left unconscious and others reporting aches and dizziness after what they say was a Syrian government air raid in Aleppo on April the 13th.
And a picture purportedly showed a flock of sheep killed by chemical weapons.
…The Syrian government has denied accusations from western countries. It compares the US accusation to claims about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction to justify its 2003 invasion.
In the meantime, fears are growing in both government troops and rebel groups. Some are calling for a UN investigation, while others doubt UN neutrality.
Yahya Sulaiman, a retired soldier, said, “The UN is under control of the western countries. We don’t think it represents the justice. If the UN investigation doesn’t make clear the investigation period, their access to Syria may also bring foreign spies, who’s true purpose is to inspect Syrian military facilities.”
UN chief Ban Ki-moon says the investigation panel is ready to get access to Syria at any time. US President Barack Obama has expressed support for a UN mission.
Russia has warned not to use the allegations as an excuse for foreign military intervention. The final decision is still up in the air.
As the UK’s former Ambassador to Syria wrote recently…