As Congress prepares to reconvene and begin what are expected to be heated discussions over whether and how to launch a limited military strike against Syria, US Secretary of State John Kerry has already ensured that a number of key Arab allies are on board with US military action, Arab dailies report.
The London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi states that at a meeting in Paris, the foreign ministers of nine Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan, agreed that Syrian President Bashar Assad “had exceeded red lines set by the international community by using chemical weapons against his own people.”
“If the international community wants to ensure peace and security in the world, it cannot remain still when unarmed people are exposed to weapons of mass destruction,” Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid Al-Attiyah announced during a joint press conference with Secretary Kerry.
While emphasizing that only a political solution could ensure a real conclusion to the Syrian civil war, Kerry reiterated the US and the Arab allies’ position that deterrence against using chemical weapons must be upheld.
On the other hand, the Saudi-owned A-Sharq Al-Awsat reports that in preparation for this week’s congressional discussions, Assad himself is launching a very public impassioned defense stressing that his military was not responsible for chemical weapons attacks whatsoever. Granting an exclusive interview to Charlie Rose, an American television journalist on PBS, Assad said, “There is no proof I ever used chemical weapons against my own people.”
While expressing sadness for the tragic deaths of so many of his countrymen, Assad took the chance during his interview to say to the American people that he’s not the bad guy. “America has not been so successful at intervening in conflicts in the Middle East,” Assad said. “I pray the American people will see that the real way to achieve peace in Syria is to stand up to the real terrorists, which are acting with Al-Qaeda.”
As Assad continues his propaganda battle to sway the US Congress to vote against a military strike against his government, the leaders of the Free Syrian Army, the main military outfit of the Syrian opposition, are already preparing for the aftermath of a US strike. The Doha-based media network Al-Jazeera reports that the Free Syria Army is preparing for the military strike as if it’s “a matter of fact” and “will be exploited so that more territory can be taken.”
The political spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, Louay Mekdad, confirmed that, despite the Free Syrian Army’s battle plans, there is no direct communication between their forces and the Pentagon.
Of course, major questions remain regarding what the possible response of Assad’s allies Russia and Iran will be in the event of an American attack. Last week Russia sent naval warships to the eastern Mediterranean as an intimidating sign to the US fleet. Iran has been accused of plotting attacks against US interests around the world.
However, the Dubai-based media channel Al-Arabiya reports on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif’s speech delivered in Iraq accusing the American government of being reckless war mongers.
“We (the Iranians) are concerned about the advocates of war in this region,” Zarif said. “Those who are short-sighted are beating the drums of war which will ignite a fire and burn everybody. Intervention in Syria will affect neighboring countries directly, such as Iraq, and usher in an age of instability in terms of security and humanitarian issues.”