Within the past week, there has been a number of key developments surrounding the Syrian conflict. The three different messages were delivered via three different types of media, from three different Presidents.
On Monday, Sept. 9, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appeared in an interview with Charlie Rose, responding to President Obama’s decision to seek congressional approval for a military strike on Syria. In the interview, Assad continued to deny the use of chemical weapons on his own citizens, citing his “disappointment” with the Obama administration for making false claims.
“We expected this administration [to be] different from Bush’s administration,” said Assad, “[but] they are operating the same doctrine with different accessories.”
Despite the assurance of innocence from Assad, American officials maintain that they have clear evidence of Assad and his government using chemical weapons. However, Russia, an ally to Syria, claim that they have evidence that would clear Assad of any wrongdoing. Secretary of State John Kerry had previously been overseas attempting to gain support for American action from the international community, but the majority of the response was tentative. Nations agreed that evidence of chemical weapons would require a strong and clear counter measure, but many nations wanted to wait while more evidence was gathered before any action was taken.
Two days later, on Tuesday evening, President Obama addressed the nation, arguing for the necessity of a military strike versus Syria. In Obama’s address, he reiterated the fact that any military action would be a precise, swift strike, avoiding any “boots on the ground.” He also acknowledged a developing diplomatic solution put forth by Russia: Assad and the Syrian government would become a member of the Chemical Weapons Convention, meaning they would surrender any chemical weapons they had, while the U.S. would back off any military action. With the majority of congress and public against any strike, this new diplomatic resolution quickly gained traction and attention.
“I have, therefore, asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path,” said Obama. However, the President left the door open for armed measures, saying, “Meanwhile, I’ve ordered our military to maintain their current posture to keep the pressure on Assad, and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails.”
The very next day, the morning of the 11th, Russian President Vladimir Putin penned an op-ed piece in The New York Times, urging the U.S. to avoid military action. With each party not willing to budge, Russia has played the part of peace maker.
“Recent events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders,” began Putin. “It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.” He went on to say that forceful strategies would damage all nations involved, and called on the U.S. to return to diplomatic path.
“If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust,” Putin concluded.
Now, all eyes turn to the U.N., who are awaiting conclusions from their chemical weapons experts. Within the next week, these experts will present their findings to the U.N. Security Council, which will give all parties a clearer indication of the situation.