After President Barack Obama asked Congress on Tuesday to postpone a vote on airstrikes against Syria to allow time to explore a Russian proposal getting Syria to turn over its chemical weapons to international control.
Obama made the last-minute dramatic turnaround in closed-door meetings with members of Congress and seemed to accept Russia’s proposal turning over Syria’s chemical weapons to international monitors if Bashar Assad accepted that according to politico website.
The result would be much better than a least-bad alternative. It would be a good outcome of a horrible circumstance.
No one knows whether and how Syria’s civil war can be ended. Neither President Obama, nor Congress, nor the Americans believe the United States can stop the slaughter by force of arms. Americans cannot end the Assad government’s killing of its opponents, and then subsequently prevent the opponents from revenge-killing the Alawites, or prevent Sunni jihadists from killing mainstream Sunnis.
If Moscow and Tehran can avert U.S. military strikes by persuading Syria’s Assad to transfer chemical weapons to an international authority, then the United States should welcome it.
Russia has already demonstrated its interest in the chemical-disarmament option. There is reason to believe that Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, might press Assad in this direction.
The Syrian regime has already used chemical weapons. There is reason to fear that as the civil war continues, these weapons may be transferred to other dangerous actors within the country or elsewhere. Turning Assad’s crime against humanity into an opportunity to gain control over these weapons is therefore a vital U.S. and international interest.
In other hand, The Arab League will back a Russian plan to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international supervision for eventual destruction, its secretary general said Tuesday.
Nabil al-Arabi told reporters in Cairo the League will “soon issue a statement announcing its support officially” for the Russian plan.
“If you remember, I always insisted that (the Syrian conflict) needs a political solution,” Arabi told middle-east-online.com
On September 1, the League urged the United Nations and the international community to take “deterrent” action against the Syrian regime over the alleged attacks near Damascus.
“The United Nations and the international community are called upon to assume their responsibilities in line with the UN Charter and international law by taking the necessary deterrant measures” following the suspected August 21 incident, Arab League foreign ministers said in a statement.
But they fell short of calling for military strikes as proposed by Washington, with several member countries opposed to foreign intervention in Syria.
The Arab League has suspended Syria as a member and replaced it with the main opposition coalition.
Syria’s conflict has killed more than 110,000 people since it began in March 2011.
The last survey of gallup.com said that President Barack Obama’s job approval rating on handling foreign affairs remains low, at 42%, although no lower than it was in June or August of this year. Thirty-one percent of Americans approve of Obama’s handling of the situation in Syria, the first time Gallup has measured the president’s approval rating on this issue.
Obama’s handling of foreign affairs is particularly relevant at this juncture, given the focus in Congress and the news media on the president’s proposed plan to initiate military action in Syria in response to that country’s alleged use of chemical weapons. Gallup polling last week showed that Americans oppose military action in that country by a 15-percentage-point margin, and Obama’s low rating on handling Syria no doubt reflects the public’s disagreement with his stance on the necessity for such military action.
But Obama’s controversial position on the situation in Syria has not, in the short term, affected his public standing on his handling of foreign affairs. His approval on this dimension has been stable since June, although it remains below his overall job approval rating (45%) in the same poll. Obama’s approval rating on foreign affairs has fluctuated over his time in office, ranging from a high of 61% just after he took office, in March 2009, to the low of 40% last month.
President Obama’s current high-profile and controversial proposal for U.S. involvement in Syria has — so far — had little effect on his image in Americans’ eyes. Although he has a low approval rating for handling the Syrian situation in particular, his rating on handling foreign affairs has not moved since June. Additionally, the public’s perceptions of him on a series of key characteristics relating to leadership and government management have not changed in recent months. Obama’s job approval rating in Gallup Daily tracking is, however, currently 43%, down slightly from averages in the mid-40s in August, and slightly lower than his 45% overall approval rating in the Sept. 5-8 survey.