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Obama Warns Syria on Use of Chemical Weapons

Posted by Steve Markowitz on December 10, 2012

The ongoing Civil War in Syria is advancing towards an inevitable tipping point.  Since the conflict began it is reported that 40,000 Syrian civilians have been killed.  As typical in such internal struggles, the longer they continue the stronger the insurgents become as they obtain more weapons and popular support.  In fact, it is reported that the rebels are now fighting on the outskirts of Damascus, the Syrian capital.

With the Assad regime cornered there are signs it is preparing to use its vast stockpile of chemical weapons against the rebels, according to American intelligence officials.  The Syrian, includes mustard gas, sarin, and nerve agents, is being physically moved in a way that may indicate their preparation for use.  In addition, the New York Times reported that some of these chemical weapons are now located close to terrorists Hezbollah camps in Lebanon.

This past week President Obama went public with concerns stating that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime would be “totally unacceptable” and warned Syria: “Today I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command:  The world is watching.”

While Obama’s Syrian warning is appropriate, it is likely too little, too late.  The Assad regime has its back to the wall.  Its Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam, represents only about 10% of the Syrian population.  They have ruled the Sunni majority with an iron fist for decades.  Should the rebels overthrow the Assad regime, not only is the ruling Assad’s at risk, but so too is the entire Alawite population who will likely be on the receiving end of violent and deadly reprisals.  Losing the battle against the rebels is not an option for the Assad regime.  Their choices are limited to winning the battle, escaping the country, or death.

It is ironic that the Obama Administration finds itself with a Middle East crisis of an Arab country potentially having Weapons of Mass Destruction and threatening their use.  The last time a US president faced this dilemma, Bush decided on preemptive action for which he was viciously castigated by the Left, including then Senator Barack Obama.  President Obama is unlikely to take the political risk that comes would preemptive action.  Instead, he will once again vote “present” and hope that with some veiled threats that the WMDs will not be used in Syria.  With a bit of luck this could be the best approach.  However, if the despot Assad unleashes the weapons against his people in a last ditch effort to survive, the consequences will be staggering and deadly.

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