General

By a Newsnet reporter

After the failure of David Cameron to gain the support of the House of Commons to authorise UK military action against Syria, the United States is gearing up to launch a military strike, possibly within days.

In a statement on Friday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the US had a "clear and compelling" case and "high confidence" that the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical attack last week in Damascus, which Mr Kerry said had caused the deaths of 1429 civilians including over 400 children.

Mr Kerry branded Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad as a "thug and a murderer", saying: 

"History will judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turn a blind eye to a dictator's wanton use of weapons of mass destruction ...  This is the indiscriminate, inconceivable horror of chemical weapons. This is what Assad did to his own people."

Mr Kerry claimed the US was in possession of "multiple streams of intelligence" which indicated that the Syrian government had carried out the attack.  The US intelligence also points to President Assad as the "ultimate decision maker" for the country's chemical weapons programme.

The US Secretary of State said that failure to take action would erode the nearly century-old norm against the use of chemical weapons, and would embolden Syrian allies Iran and Hezbollah.

Meanwhile in a statement on Friday evening, President Barack Obama said that "as a leader in the world" the United States has an obligation to hold states accountable if they violate "international norms", and that the alleged gas attack was a "threat to US security interests".

He added:  "This kind of attack is a challenge to the world.  We cannot accept a world in which women and children are gassed on a terrible scale."

However in an apparent attempt to assuage a doubtful US public opinion, the President assured reporters that any action would be limited in scale and would not involve US personnel on the ground in Syria.

"We're not considering any open ended commitment. We're not considering any boots on the ground approach,"  Mr Obama said.

UN experts in Damascus have now completed their investigation into the attacks on rebel held surburbs to east of the city, and said they would "expedite" a report on whether chemical weapons had been used there.

The UN investigators are due to leave Syria on Saturday, and will report back immediately to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.  Mr Ban has called on the US and other Western countries to allow the UN team time to complete their investigation and for their findings to be analysed, however it appears that the US is unwilling to wait for the United Nations, and is set to take action without UN approval.

The US is unwilling to wait for the United Nations team as any resolution calling for military intervention will be blocked on the UN Security Council by Russia, an ally of the Syrian regime. 

Uri Ushakov, chief foreign policy aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said any military action that bypassed the Security Council would "deal a serious blow to the entire system of world order".

Although the UK has now ruled out any military involvement in Syria, the Americans may be able to count on the support of France, which opposed intervention in Iraq.  French President François Hollande has said that the UK decision would not affect his government's position.  In an interview published today with Le Monde newspaper, Mr Hollande said that France "wants wants firm and proportionate action against the Damascus regime."

The US also has the backing of Turkey, whose Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly called for a sustained campaign to topple the Syrian regime.

The Syrian government has denied using chemical weapons against civilian targets, and claims that the attacks were engineered by the opposition.

Many observers believe that the US may initiate strikes against selected targets in Syria within the next few days, possibly as early as tomorrow after the departure of the UN team of investigators from Damascus.  President Obama is expected to leave on a trip to Sweden and Russia for the G20 summit on Tuesday, and military action would be unlikely to take place with the President out of the country.

Meanwhile the SNP, which voted against military action in the Commons vote on Thursday night, has called for the indictment of Syrian regime or opposition figures responsible for allegedly using chemical weapons.

Westminster SNP Leader and foreign affairs spokesman Angus Robertson MP said:

"The international community must prioritise efforts for a comprehensive peace settlement in Syria including justice for the victims of alleged chemical weapons attacks.

"No belligerent in Syria or elsewhere should get away with using these horrific and indiscriminate weapons and the International Criminal Court or a specially established war crimes tribunal should indict suspects.

"When I proposed this to Prime Minister David Cameron during the Syria debate he signalled this should be considered and I urge him to take this seriously.

"Following its parliamentary defeat the UK Government must refocus its foreign policy towards seeking a comprehensive settlement in Syria and stepping up humanitarian efforts."

Comments  

 
# WRH2 2013-08-30 23:02
The UK government wrings its hands about wrongs committed in other countries while it passes laws such as the "bedroom tax" which inflicts misery on its own people. It bails out banks and does nothing to stop the obscene salaries and bonuses of bankers with not a care about the effect of 0.5% interest on the life savings of pensioners. This is nowhere as horrific as chemical weapons attacks but no government that has such little care for its own people should try to claim they care about the citizens of another country. Hypocrisy doesn't begin to describe it.
 
 
# macdonald88 2013-09-06 16:56
A Government which cares so little for its people that it spends £159 Billion per year on welfare. £159 BILLION.
Hypocrisy is the word to use for those who voted against military action as war crimes are committed day after day in Syria but claim they would support such action if there was a UN resolution (in the certain knowledge that Russia will never allow one to be passed). They must live with the knowledge that they are providing a lifeline to a genocidal dictatorship.
 
 
# call me dave 2013-08-30 23:50
Hypocrisy doesn't begin to describe it.
I agree with that.

Here is a really good article:
Ian Bell.
---------------------------------------
Sorry to disappoint, but we are not mired in a hate-filled war

heraldscotland.com/.../...
------------------------------------
 
 
# gus1940 2013-08-31 05:10
One of the main reasons why The Evil Empire goes to war every few years bombing and killing so many innocent civilians is that having spent countless Billions developing new and even more sophisticated ways of killing people they have an irresistible desire to play with their latest toys.
 
 
# Breeks 2013-08-31 05:15
Several layers of hypocrisy too. The US and UK very much flaunt their status as permanent members of the UN Security Council, (more Trident anyone?), but then proceed to devalue the UN by the selective regard for its resolutions; one law for some, a very different law for others.
We are asking the wrong questions. Why should we assume China, Russia, and sometimes France are going to veto resolutions, unless you accept the UN doesn't stand for a fair and just World order, it is just a cloak of convenience to make unhindered pursuit of hawkish self interest more palateable in the eyes of the world.
The UN's authority should be paramount, the council of governments, or what is the point of the UN?
The selective regard for UN resolutions is very damaging, but if we must have permanent privileges for some members of the Security Council, (why?), then African and Arab interests should have equal weight.
 
 
# Macart 2013-08-31 06:30
You either believe in the rule of international law or you don't. If the American govt. flatly ignores the efforts of the UN they may as well shut the doors in that big shiny building in NYC.
 
 
# Jamie Black 2013-08-31 06:44
'Bedroom Tax' and Chemical poisoning? You and most of the people on this site using such comparisons are an embarassment to Scotland and it's people.

The bitter comments on here over the last few days say so much about the Nationalist regime in this country. Inwards, insular and incapable of acting on a world stage.

I'd love to know how the SNP think they will try Assad - call him up and ask him to go to the Hague? Get with it and stop making fools of yourselves.

Vote NO in 2014
 
 
# Breeks 2013-08-31 09:54
That 'regime' is a democratically elected government with an outright majority, but from your wider comments, I take it you don't really 'get' democracy anyway.
Repeat after me: Scottish Government, Scottish Government, Scottish Government...
Next one's a bit tricky for Unionists to say too: Independence, Independence, Independence...
 
 
# xyz 2013-08-31 10:17
"Nationalist regime"

Grow up Jamie.

The SNP government is far superior to anything your side could ever produce. They work for Scotland. Your side works for Westminster.
 
 
# Alba4Eva 2013-08-31 10:23
Quoting Jamie Black:
I'd love to know how the SNP think they will try Assad - call him up and ask him to go to the Hague?


At least the SNP would revert to what is Rule of Law in Scotland, just as they did in the Magrahi situation. Unlike the UK, who blatantly lied about evidence of Iraq having WMD's and took us into illegal wars... not to mention UK Prime ministers selling arms, doing oil deals and hugging middle eastern dictators in a desert tents at the same time.

Believing that better results are achievable through communication and diplomacy, rather than rash warmongering which carries a risk of escalating the situation (even beyond Syria's borders), is not insular and isolationist.

Vote YES 2014
 
 
# Joker 2013-08-31 11:10
Quoting Jamie Black:
Vote NO in 2014

Nice to see you've dropped the pretense of being a pragmatist.

You are the flipside of the militant nationalist coin; the only difference is "NO" in place of "YES".

Don't be surprised if neither side welcome you to their camp.
 
 
# Macart 2013-08-31 12:37
An interesting use of terminology to describe our current democracy Mr Black. So unilateral action is your preferred course? Not the consensus and weight of international law then? Just how does that unilateral action fit with your idea that those who support independence are unfit to act on the world stage?

I would say that those who support greater democratically elected freedoms and cooperation with the family of nations are far more fit to act on the world stage than those who ignore, at will, the laws agreed upon by all. Since however the HoC has already voted down direct action on a UK scale perhaps you should address your complaints about a lack of blood letting to Westminster too?

This one appears to have a consensus of agreement across a broader UK canvas.
 
 
# Leader of the Pack 2013-08-31 16:15
Black

What is Assad guilty of that Blair isn't? Why should Assad end up in the Hague while Blair Bush Cheney & Rumsfeld end up making millions doing exactly the same thing?
Unionist hypocrisy knows no peers or betters. Stop trying to pretend you believe this is all about humanitarian intervention. Its pathetic.
 
 
# Saoghal Eile 2013-08-31 07:17
Why on earth should we offer compassionate, humanitarian support to Syrians when we can blow them to smithereens? The lady doctor on the news reportage dealing with the aftermath of some atrocious weaponry showed more courage than the entire massed might of the trigger happy USA armed forces.
 
 
# Breeks 2013-08-31 08:36
Just to add - I am not a pacifist or conscientious objecter type, though I fully respect the position.
I don't believe in an independent Scotland being meek or insular. IF and when the UN requires manpower to impliment its resolutions, by force if necessary, then I would hope an independent Scotland would indeed be able and willing to commit a healthy contingent of professional and specialist military 'capacity' to back up the will of the UN as part of any properly assembled international coalition. We have the most excellent soldiers and they would be a valuable resource.
But the big difference is doing so when there is a formal UN mandate, due process, and clear objective which is universally respected by the international community.
To put that in context, I would hope that troops from an Independent Scotland might have helped the liberation of Kuwait as part of Desert Storm, but they'd have stayed in their barracks for Gulf War 2.
 
 
# Abulhaq 2013-08-31 08:48
is this really about Syria's alleged use of chemweapons or about something else. about the US going into decline led by a weak man and losing face against a resurgent Russia. about Turkey and its islamist government reconnecting with lost territories of the old ottoman empire. the French now so second rate compared to Gauliste years trying to climb back on the world stage to sort out the mess it made in one of its old mandates. the Brits facing the end of their state showing what the old bulldog is capable of. the Saudis et al pushing for the west to do yet more dirty work while they recline and cheer from the sidelines knowing heads or tails they always win and get richer and fatter. WMDs a plenty in N Korea but nukes v chem weapons not really a contest.
 
 
# Roll_On_2011 2013-08-31 10:18
OT

Just come across this article by Douglas Fraser on the BBC website. It looks like the Hootsmon continue their slide down the road to oblivion.

bbc.co.uk/.../...

“ Amid declines in almost every newspaper sales figure, the numbers from the Holyrood Road office of The Scotsman stand out.

It's given up on the monthly torture of seeing its sales fall, in favour of a six-monthly report through the industry's auditor.

That makes it all the more of a shock to find the Scotsman's active sales dip below 30,000, its January to June average sale down by more than 17% on the first half of last year.

Its stablemate, Scotland on Sunday, faced an even bigger fall of 20% to 37,400, and the Edinburgh Evening News was one of the bigger fallers too. “
 
 
# Arthur G 2013-08-31 13:25
The Scotsman only has to last up until the Referendum. That is all those who are financing it and dictating its anti-independnce editorial line require.

£305m in debt? Just as well The Hootsmon is a Unionist rag and not a Scottish football club or there would be a chorus of demands for its l.iquidation.
 
 
# Rafiki 2013-08-31 12:03
Could we be seeing the end of the so ofter mentioned "Special relationship, and the place being occupied by the "cheese eating surrender monkeys" as George Bush called them.
As to Kerry's comments on the "oldest" ally, the American War of Independence and Britain's war with France were on around the same time.

Common denominator?
 
 
# proudscot 2013-08-31 12:39
Jamie Black, how do you think Cameron or Obama or Hollande will ensure Assad is tried in The Hague? I hardly think missile strikes on his country's people or its infrastructure will do it.

Incidentally your obvious hatred of our SNP Government blinds you to the fact that it was democratically elected by the Scottish electorate. I am not a supporter of your preferred Westminster English MPs-dominated parliament, but I acknowledge it is also democratically elected by the UK electorate as a whole. So, like its Holyrood counterpart, it is not a "regime" either.

If you wish to be taken seriously try to temper your language, instead of peppering it with pejorative, anti-SNP politically driven tribal insults.
 
 
# Abulhaq 2013-08-31 14:48
A pole indicates that 2/3 of the French public are opposed to their country becoming involved in Syria. François Hollande, already deeply unpopular, is set to bring les citoyens out on the streets again. Leaders losing popularity Obama, Cameron, Hollande are peevish and dangerous beasts. In real democracies such would be removed by constitutional mechanisms even though some act as if elected absolute monarchs. We have the Egyptian model to hand of course. The one with the Western stamp of approval for disposing of democratically elected leaders that dont suit. Just send in the army!
 
 
# samizdat 2013-08-31 15:15
Listening to the BBC yesterday its seems their main concern was worrying about the UK's "standing on the world stage"or the "special relationship" and nothing to do with the plight in Syria,of course we always knew that, it was all about their vanity to be seen as big shots in the world and they are now mortified that France of all countries may now supercede them as the US's best buddy.
Thank Gawd when Scotland is an independent country all that delusional world power vanity baggage will be left behind and we will abide by UN decisions and do our bit as required in proportion to our size or expertise.
 
 
# AlastairMcIntyre 2013-08-31 20:16
I confess that the attitude to the Syrian conflict by the west puzzles me. At the end of the day this all started because the Suni Moslems objected to how the country was run. Under Asad Christians and other minorities were protected. It is the Suni's that have attacked some 60 churches in Egypt and are the main cause of attacks on Christians and other minorities in the Middle East as well as other ethnic groups. So why are we supporting these people?
 

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