Chemical weapons used in Syria
Internevionary action being debated; could destabilize the region.
Article: Rikkeal Bohmann – News Writer
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated, “Any use of chemical weapons anywhere, by anybody, under any circumstances, would violate international law,” at a meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea on Aug. 23.
A UN team had been deployed in Syria for a 14-day mission, to probe the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Government. The weapons inspectors pulled out this past weekend. A UN report will be filed and sent to the Secretary General, where he will present it to the Security Council.
The alleged attack occurred on the morning of Aug. 21 near Damascus. In June, an international meeting was held with the UN and the League of Arab States to discuss actions to take in Syria. A Geneva II conference is tentatively being booked for September to try to find a political solution to Syria.
Doctors without Borders had been one of the first to be able to provide information on the alleged attacks. Three hospitals in Damascus that are supported by Doctors without Borders reported that that they received approximately 3,600 patients displaying neurotoxic symptoms in less than three hours on the Wednesday attack. 355 reportedly died.
The international community has been watching the United States’ reaction to the attacks. US Secretary of State John Kerry has said the attacks, “defied the code of morality,” as he took a firm stance against chemical weapons. The Obama administration has officially said it would take action following the attacks. What kind of action, is what kept the world in suspense.
Unexpectedly, the British government voted no for military action in Syria, while France has pledged support. Turkey, who has air bases in the area, has also pledged to support American action.
On Sunday, Obama began campaigning to Congress for support to do a punitive strike against the Syrian government, while Kerry tried to rally international allies. New evidence repeatedly came out from the US government that the chemical attack had actually killed over 1,400.
This campaign in Syria will also likely be short, if all things go as planned, as Martin Hewson, a political science professor at the University of Regina notes, “If it happens, it will be a one off, punishment strike against Syria.”
The American track record for short and easy campaigns has not always been a good experience though. Hewson notes three examples where the Americans thought they would be going in for a short and easy campaign, but the opposite occurred: Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
We do know for sure that Canada will not be taking part in military action though.
“There has never been any question on having no Canadian military involvement,” Hewson states.
The Harper government has condemned the chemical attacks and instead vows to give humanitarian help.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has challenged the American and French to provide proof that his regime was responsible for the chemical attacks.
“The Americans and French have not made their evidence public yet and that is why Assad is claiming that it wasn’t them, and the basic reason for this, I think, is that a lot of people are skeptical because ten years ago, President Bush said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that’s why they are invading Iraq and it turned out he didn’t have them. It was a huge mistake,” Hewson says.
On Monday, Assad warned that “the Middle East is a powder keg and the fire is approaching.”
Hewson describes the tension in the Middle East as “a low-level war, a cold war almost.”