By Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama stepped back from the brink on Saturday and delayed an imminent military strike against Syria to seek approval from the U.S. Congress in a gamble that will test his ability to project American strength abroad and deploy his own power at home. Before Obama put on the brakes, the path had been cleared for a U.S. assault. Navy ships were in place and awaiting orders to launch missiles, and U.N. inspectors had left Syria after gathering evidence of a chemical weapons attack that U.S. officials say killed 1,429 people. …
“… France’s muscular new approach was first on display in Libya, when then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy led the push to establish a no-fly zone over Libya and later ordered French forces to fire the first shots of the military intervention there….
Mali was an even stronger example…. The Obama administration condemned the Islamist push but made clear it had no appetite for a military intervention to stop it.
Enter France. In early January, French airstrikes stopped the Islamist advance….
With Britain sitting out any coming U.S. intervention into Syria, France is so far the sole ally signaling a clear willingness to commit military assets of its own so the U.S. doesn’t fight alone. France maintains bases in the United Arab Emirates and Djibouti that could theoretically be used as staging grounds for airstrikes into Syria. With Turkish permission, its planes could also potentially fly from the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey…. without the imprimatur of the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations or the United Nations. It would prefer to work with a broad alliance of fellow nations, but Shurkin says France is fully prepared to fight alone or solely alongside the United States….”
“…In the case of Syria, the minimum follow-on steps should be to announce a strategy of working with our allies to increase humanitarian support to the Syrians, and military advisory and arms support to the moderate factions in the Syrian opposition and forces. It should be able to say the U.S. will consider collective action in terms of some no fly zone or use of airpower to both protect and empower the rebels if they can show they really have moderate leadership, can control the flow of arms and support, and will give full rights and protection to their Sunni opponents, Alawites, Kurds, and other minorities if they win. It should make it equally clear the U.S. will leave them to lose if they don’t, and the U.S. should be openly ruthless in making these terms clear. …”
“…Les barrages et les portraits du président Bachar el-Assad se font plus nombreux, notamment quand on arrive dans la proche périphérie de Mezzeh. Sur la gauche s’étend l’aéroport militaire du même nom qui pourrait être l’une des principales cibles des frappes américaines, et juste derrière le quartier rebelle de Darraya que le régime n’arrive pas à soumettre complètement, après des mois et des mois d’attaques.Au barrage, un militaire arbore un écusson d’Hassan Nasrallah, le chef du Hezbollah, le parti chiite libanais qui aide l’armée régulière contre les insurgés. Les coffres une fois de plus sont fouillés, mais sans signe d’énervement. Sur la grande avenue Mezzeh qui conduit au cœur de Damas, la circulation est normale en ce dernier jour du week-end en Syrie. Dans les taxis, la radio diffuse des chansons à la gloire de l’armée syrienne, que l’on voit en exercice sur les chaînes de télévision officielles. Tout semble normal, mais pour combien de temps encore? .”
Yemeni Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa is unharmed after his motorcade is attacked by gunmen, officials say.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Delaying what had loomed as an imminent strike, President Barack Obama abruptly announced Saturday he will seek congressional approval before launching any military action meant to punish Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons in an attack that killed hundreds.
A quite beautiful song by the ????? (“heard/audible”) campaign, which calls of Egyptians to make clear their opposition to both the Brotherhood and the return of the security state (or as they put it, to both “religious fascism and the Egyptian state’s route to civil war”) by banging on pots and pans every evening. The refrain is “Freedom is coming.” Unfortunately, at least in my neighborhood, all I’ve heard every evening so far is a resounding silence.