Obama urged to seek congressional approval on Syria action, Russia calls it 'challenge' to UN charter

By FnF Desk
PUBLISHED: Aug 29, 2013, 14:04 pm IST | UPDATED: Aug 29, 2013, 14:10 pm
Keywords: Obama on Syrian strike  US Congress on Syria attack  Russia on Syria attack  Chemical weapons in Syria  UN Charter on chemical weapons  
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Obama urged to seek congressional approval on Syria action, Russia calls it 'challenge' to UN charter Washington: At least 116 American lawmakers have asked President Barack Obama to seek congressional approval for any military strike against Syria in response to alleged use of chemical weapons in the Arab country.

A letter signed by 116 Congressmen — 98 Republicans and 18 Democrats — was sent to Obama as the state department said that it would brief the Congress in a classified setting on the intelligence related to the alleged chemical attack by the Assad regime in a Damascus suburb last week.

The lawmakers in their letter expressed disapproval at the President's intervention in Libya without prior statutory authorisation, and said that Congress stood ready to return to session to consider the facts in Syria.

"We strongly urge you to consult and receive authorisation from Congress before ordering the use of US military force in Syria. Your responsibility to do so is prescribed in the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973," said the letter spearheaded by congressman Scott Rigell.

"If you deem that military action in Syria is necessary, Congress can reconvene at your request. We stand ready to come back into session, consider the facts before us, and share the burden of decisions made regarding US involvement in the quickly escalating Syrian conflict," the lawmakers wrote.

In an interview to the CNN, Republican Senator Bob Corker, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, urged Obama to call Congress back to Washington to seek approval for possible surgical, proportional military action in Syria.

"The administration has consulted and we have been aggressive, candidly, about being consulted. I do think we would be so much better off if the administration would come to Congress, call everybody back and let Congress authorize this activity," said Corker.

In terms of the US foreign policy goals in Syria, Corker said, "I don't want what we may be getting ready to do with Syria to take us away from the stated strategy and policy of insuring that we don't get directly involved in any kind of quagmire relative to civil war. I think what the president is proposing, a surgical, proportional strike, is called for here assuming the intelligence briefing that I get justify those actions."

Meanwhile US President Barack Obama has said that he has not yet decided whether to attack Syria in the aftermath of the Assad regime allegedly using chemical weapons against its own people on August 21.

“We have not yet made a decision, but the international norm against the use of chemical weapons needs to be kept in place.

“Hardly anybody disputes that chemical weapons were used on a large scale in Syria against civilian populations,” Obama told the PBS News Hour in an interview yesterday.

“We have looked at all the evidence, and we do not believe the Opposition possessed nuclear weapons — or chemical weapons of that sort.

“We do not believe that, given the delivery systems, using rockets that the Opposition could have carried out these attacks. We have concluded that the Syrian Government in fact carried these out. And if that’s so, then there need to be international consequences,” Obama asserted in response to a question.

As such the US is consulting its allies.

“We’re consulting with the international community. And you know, I have no interest in any kind of open-ended conflict in Syria, but we do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on weapons like chemical weapons that could threaten us, that they are held accountable,” he said.

“I have not made a decision, but I think it’s important that if, in fact, we make a choice to have repercussions for the use of chemical weapons, then the Assad regime, which is involved in a civil war, trying to protect itself, will have received a pretty strong signal, that in fact, it better not do it again,” he said.

Obama hoped that ultimately, a political transition can take place inside of Syria.

“We are prepared to work with anybody — the Russians and others — to try to bring the parties together to resolve the conflict,” he said.

"Declared plans by some states to inflict a military strike on Syria are an undisguised challenge to the key provisions of the UN charter and other norms of international law," the statement quoted deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov as telling UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at a meeting at The Hague yesterday.

Russia yesterday stressed that it was premature to mull any reaction by the United Nations Security Council to an alleged chemical attack near Damascus before the UN team inspecting the site releases its findings.

"At this stage it is necessary to use political and diplomatic instruments to the maximum, first and foremost by letting the UN experts inspecting possible chemical weapons use in Syria complete their mandate and report the results to the UN Security Council," Gatilov told Ban, according to the ministry statement.

Russia, which has supported the Damascus regime throughout the two-and-a-half-year conflict, Calls for a military intervention in Syria are an "undisguised challenge" to the United Nations charter, the Russian foreign ministry said today.

"Declared plans by some states to inflict a military strike on Syria are an undisguised challenge to the key provisions of the UN charter and other norms of international law," the statement quoted deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov as telling UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at a meeting at The Hague yesterday.

Russia yesterday stressed that it was premature to mull any reaction by the United Nations Security Council to an alleged chemical attack near Damascus before the UN team inspecting the site releases its findings.

"At this stage it is necessary to use political and diplomatic instruments to the maximum, first and foremost by letting the UN experts inspecting possible chemical weapons use in Syria complete their mandate and report the results to the UN Security Council," Gatilov told Ban, according to the ministry statement.

Russia, which has supported the Damascus regime throughout the two-and-a-half-year conflict, is widely expected to block any Security Council action aimed at punishing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad..
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