Obama needs Congressional approval to give Syria intervention 'at least some legitimacy' – Pushkov

US President Barack Obama does not need congressional approval to order strikes against Syria, but that option is disadvantageous to him, Chairman of the Russian State Duma International Affairs Committee Alexei Pushkov told Interfax.

 “The law obliges the president to seek congressional authorization in case of war, but in a whole number of cases in the past the law was ignored on the basis of Congress’s resolution 1973 which authorizes the president to launch a military operation overseas for up to 60 days under emergency circumstances without seeking permission from Congress if immediate action is necessary,” Pushkov said.

The history of the United States knows a number of precedents when presidents did not seek authorization from Congress for using military force outside of the US, yet no impeachment motion or accusations of breaching the law were subsequently brought against them.

“It happened when Reagan moved troops to Grenada in 1893 and also when Clinton ordered to bomb Belgrade in 1999. Nor did Obama seek

Congress’s permission for a military operation against Libya a few years ago,” Pushkov said.

Obama could have chosen the well-trodden path and skip Congress, yet decided against it – but why?

 “If Congress backs him, it will be his response to public opinion - look, I have a mandate of the American nation. Now, judging by opinion polls, Obama has no such mandate,” Pushkov remarked.

"Obama needs Congressional approval to give the war at least some legitimacy," Pushkov asserted.

Obama’s decision to seek congressional support postpones the beginning of military intervention Syria until at least September 9.

 “This, of course, is a shift in tactics, but the strategy is unchanged,” said the lawmaker.

He feels that Obama’s tactical maneuver “aims to garner as much support as possible”, which will also buy him time to convince public opinion at home, in Europe and other countries that the US Administration made the right decision, to “turn public opinion in his favor, which is now not in his favor, and thus forge a stronger political platform for military intervention”. 

“That’s the essence of Obama’s decision to go to Congress,” said Pushkov.


Terrorists Admit Responsibility for Chemical Weapons Attack

Armed group members have told the Associated Press reporter that they mishandled Saudi-supplied chemical weapons, causing accident, according to Inforwar.com.

An article written by Paul Joseph Watson and published by the "Infowars.com" yesterday, revealed that armed groups in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta have admitted to the Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident for which western powers have blamed the Syrian government's forces. Members of the group revealed that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by gunmen mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.

“From numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, armed group fighters and their families, many believe that certain gunmen received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the deadly gas attack,” writes Gavlak.

According to Watson, Gunmen told Gavlak that they were not properly trained on how to handle the chemical weapons or even told what they were. It appears as though the weapons were initially supposed to be given to the Al-Qaeda offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra.

“We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” one of the gunmen named ‘J’ told Gavlak.

His statements are echoed by another female fighter named ‘K’, who told Gavlak, “They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them. We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of an "opposition fighter", also told Gavlak, “My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” describing them as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.” The father names the Saudi gunman who provided the weapons as Abu Ayesha.

According to Abdel-Moneim, the weapons exploded inside a tunnel, killing 12 gunmen.

Watson said Gavlak wrote in his report that more than a dozen gunmen interviewed reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government.

If accurate, this story could completely derail the United States’ rush to attack Syria.

According to Watson, Dale Gavlak’s credibility is very impressive. He has been a Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press for two decades and has also worked for National Public Radio (NPR) and written articles for the BBC News.

Saudi Arabia’s role in providing armed groups, whom they have vehemently backed at every turn, with chemical weapons, is no surprise given the revelations earlier this week that the Saudis threatened Russia with terror attacks at next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi unless they abandoned support for the Syrian government.

“I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” Prince Bandar told Vladimir Putin, according to the Telegraph.

H. Mustafa

Putin: Accusing Syrian Army of Chemical Weapons Use "Nonsense", US Should Present Evidence to UNSC

MOSCOW- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday stressed Russia's confidence that the Syrian government didn't use chemical weapon in the military operations against armed terrorist groups in the country.

"Allegations of Syrian government forces use of chemical weapons in Syria are complete nonsense and provocative", Putin said in a statement to journalists, stressing that calls for striking Syria are made because of the successes being achieved by the Syrian Arab Army and the retreat of the armed "opposition". 

Addressing Obama as Nobel Peace Laureate, Putin urged him to "think about victims in Syria in case of US intervention" and called on the US to present its supposed evidence to the UN Security Council.

He pointed out that it will be "extremely regrettable" if Washington kicked off unilateral military operation against Syria, urging the US administration to think deeply before adopting any decision.  

Putin also said that UK Parliament's decision regarding operation in Syria shows that there are wise decisions and people guided by common sense.

Washington has been basing its proposed strategy of an attack on Syria on claims that the Syrian government forces have used chemical agents, while Russia finds the accusations unacceptable and the idea of performing a military strike on the country even more so. Especially as it would constitute a violation of international law, if carried out without the approval of the UN Security Council.

On Friday, Washington said a plan for a "limited" military response was in the works to "punish" the Syrian government for what it called a “brutal and flagrant” chemical attack that allegedly killed hundreds of people in Damascus 10 days ago.

The Syrian government has dismissed as untrue and baseless all allegations of chemical weapons use, calling the accusation preposterous and pointing its own accusations against armed groups, especially Al-Qaeda-linked extremists.

Putin also noted that next week's G20 Summit in Russia's St Petersburg could be a good platform to discuss Syria crisis.

"The G20 is a good forum for discussing the problem in Syria, so why not take advantage of this?" Putin said.

H. Mustafa

'US, NATO, hands off Syria' – hundreds of New Yorkers during massive protest against US strike on Syria


Hundreds of people protested at New York’s Times Square on Thursday over possible US plans to strike Syria .

"US, NATO, hands off Syria," chanted hundreds of protesters, weaving through thousands of tourists, some carrying pictures of President Bashar Al-Assad, and some just declaring themselves against another US war.

"It is another lie and a lot of people are going to die for nothing," Khaldon Makhoul, 43, a physician who moved from Syria to America 17 years ago, said. "Where is the chemical weapons? Until now we didn’t find it. US soldiers will die for nothing. Where is the evidence"?


Moscow to oppose any UN resolution paving way for use of force against Syria – deputy foreign minister


Russia will oppose any UN Security Council resolution that could pave the way for a military operation against Syria, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Friday.

“Russia will oppose any UN Security Council resolution making the use of force likely,” the diplomat said ,according to Voice of Russia, TASS.


Cameron Forced to Put off Plans for War on Syria

London- British Prime Minister David Cameron has put off his plans to support a military strike against Syria after coming under domestic and international pressure, Press TV reports.

The British government’s efforts over the past days to garner support for military intervention in Syria were met with opposition by lawmakers from the country’s major political parties, including the Labour Party.

Protests similar to those opposing the war on Iraq in 2003 have also been held on Downing Street against Cameron’s plans for supporting an attack on Syria.

Anti-war campaigners are also voicing opposition to the potential military strike against Syria.

 “Only nine percent in the latest UK poll think that this attack on Syria is a good idea. If I were an MP, I’d be worried about those figures,” said John Rees, with the Stop the War Coalition.

Cameron has recalled the UK parliament for an emergency session on Thursday.

The UK government said a second vote on a strike against Syria would come after the UN chemical weapons investigation team releases the results of its probe on the sites where chemical agents have been used inside Syria.

Since August 27, speculations became stronger about the possibility of a military attack on Syria. Media outlets reported US plans for likely "surgical" attacks, which would be in the form of “cruise-missile strikes,” and “could rely on four US destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea.” The plan was said to be awaiting US President Barack Obama’s go-ahead.

Although the UK strike delay seems to have slowed down the momentum for war, it by no means has eradicated the possibility of unilateral action by the US. Washington said that it is willing to go ahead with its plans for a strike on Syria even without the approval of the United Nations or the support of its allies.

The UN, as well as Iran, Russia, and China have cautioned against war.

H. Mustafa

China opposes force, urges restraint on Syria

Foreign Minister Wang Yi says China opposes any external military intervention in Syria and urges restraint by all sides until a UN team has investigated the suspected use of chemical weapons,according to Voice of Russia, dpa.

"External military interference is against the purpose of the UN Charter and the basic principles of international relations, and it will aggravate the unstable situation in the Middle East," the ministry quotes Wang as saying.

Wang says China "firmly opposes any use of chemical weapons in Syria and supports the UN investigation team to launch an independent, objective, fair and professional investigation."

"Now (people) should avoid causing interference to the investigation and pre-judging the results."


Russia's Security Council: Syria leadership cannot be accused of chemical weapons use without proof

MOSCOW- It is inadmissible to accuse the Syrian leadership of the use of chemical weapons until the UN investigation is completed, the Russian Security Council believes,according to ITAR TASS.

 “Clearly, the use of chemical weapons in Syria or in some other conflict is unacceptable. However, there is no answer yet to the question on who has used chemical weapons there - the opposition or the government forces. The answer must be given by competent experts from the UN team, which is conducting there an on-site investigation,” and informed source in the Russian Security Council told Itar-Tass.

“It is unacceptable when without the results of the experts’ probe accusations continue to be voiced only against the Syrian leadership,” said the official. “The US, British and French politicians have been making statements about the allegedly available evidence. But why should we believe the words?” Where is the evidence?”

The  source said that the invasion of Iraq had also been preceded by the so-called “evidence” obtained by Western intelligence services ostensibly from their most reliable sources. The UN experts’ opinion was unclaimed. Now it is known that these “intelligence sources” shamelessly lied,” the source said, noting that the result was virtual destruction of the Iraqi state, the domination of terrorists, hundreds of thousands dead, the plight of the Iraqi people.

He cited the example of the most well-known terrorist organization Al Qaeda, which was created, as is known, by the CIA, for the war against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.” “Now the Americans and their allies are persistently demonstrating the fight against this organization around the world. At the same time, the available intelligence data, the “quiet Americans” also now occasionally contact Al Qaeda representatives,” the source stressed.

He wondered, “Why is ignored the important information about the use of chemical weapons by armed detachments of the Syrian opposition, which terrorists and extremists from"Al Qaeda, the al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" affiliate themselves with?

“As it is known, terrorists may use any means, including chemical weapons. Recall at least the toxic gases that had been used by the notorious Aum Shinrikyo in the Tokyo subway,” the source said. “Why are these supposed champions of democracy and the new order a priori out of suspicion by the enlightened world community, which is ready to bomb a country that is the cradle of Christian civilization?”

“Why the leaders of the world’s strongest states actually act as allies of these terrorists and murderers? They do not want to listen to the words of the UN Secretary General, who on August 28 once again called on all sides of the Syrian conflict to restore peace, put an end to the bloodshed and violence,” the source said. “What’s happening? Who is pushing the US president to the decision to use force against Syria?”

In the view of the source, not only Syrians and their neighbors, but also the citizens of Western countries themselves would suffer and continue to suffer further as a result of such ventures; and not only those who would take part in the aggression, but also ordinary people.