The Guardian reports: Britain and the US are under pressure to delay military intervention in Syria after Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, said more time should be allowed for inspections in Damascus.
Ban said the inspectors, who are investigating the chemical weapons attack last week, would need a total of four days to carry out their site visits and then further time to analyse their findings.
He spoke as a 90-minute meeting of the National Security Council (NSC), devoted to discussing the options for targeted attacks against Syria, broke up in London before a debate and vote in the House of Commons on Thursday on government plans to respond with force to Syria’s use of chemical weapons.
Sources in London and Washington have been suggesting that a limited attack could take place before the end of the week, but Cameron’s desire to show that he is not ignoring the UN could put that timetable in jeopardy. [Continue reading…]
It’s worth remembering that when France and Britain led NATO’s intervention in Libya, they only did so after getting the support of a UN Security Council resolution, and President Obama only agreed to participate if the U.S. could have a back-seat role.
This time, while there have been lots of signals the White House is willing to launch attacks without the authority of a UNSC resolution, it’s less clear whether Britain and France are willing to go that route.
David Cameron is facing growing opposition in parliament as Labour leader Ed Miliband says the government should not be provided with a “blank cheque.” Add to that the fact that Obama has already ruled out unilateral action and the war machine ready to be unleashed “within hours”, may in fact end up in a holding pattern.
And now the UN Secretary General is also stepping his foot on the breaks.
The Associated Press reports: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says a team of chemical weapons inspectors needs a total of four days to complete its investigation into an alleged chemical weapons attack in Damascus.
Ban said Wednesday the team had completed a second day of investigations at a site in a suburb of the Syrian capital, Damascus.
He says, “Let them conclude … their work for four days and then we will have to analyze scientifically” their findings and send a report to the Security Council.
So that would delay any U.S. action until next week. But on Tuesday, Obama will be leaving the U.S. heading for Russia — I can’t see him launching an attack while overseas, least of all in Russia.
And then come these rather telling comments:
One U.S. official who has been briefed on the options on Syria said he believed the White House would seek a level of intensity “just muscular enough not to get mocked” but not so devastating that it would prompt a response from Syrian allies Iran and Russia.
“They are looking at what is just enough to mean something, just enough to be more than symbolic,” he said.
If or when Obama speaks to the nation, expect the word “calibrated” to feature prominently in his message.
These days Bashar al-Assad probably welcomes support from any quarter including that from ultra-right British National Party leader Nick Griffin who just “dramatically cut short a conference in Brussels to embark on an emergency BNPeace mission to war-torn #Syria.”