Arab leaders blame Syria for using chemical weapons

 

McClatchy Foreign Staff

With a U.S. military strike potentially imminent, Arab leaders on Tuesday provided a qualified endorsement should President Barack Obama decide to retaliate against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people.

Pushed by the Gulf states, the 22-member Arab League, after a two-hour session, issued a strongly worded five-point statement holding Syria “fully responsible for the ugly crime" and demanding "that all the perpetrators of this heinous crime be presented for international trials.”

Without directly blaming the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Arab League Secretary General Nabil el Araby said that what happened was a “flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.”

The league also said the United Nations Security Council should put aside its differences and pass the “necessary resolutions against the perpetrators of this crime.”

Meanwhile, a U.S. defense official, who declined to be identified so he could speak about Syria, told McClatchy that he believes the strike could happen within a week. He said it would be carried out exclusively by the four U.S. destroyers currently based in the eastern Mediterranean and would not include air strikes to supplement the destroyer missile strikes.

The Defense official said that targets would be hit over several days in an effort to send a message to the Assad regime that the international community would not tolerate chemical weapons attacks.

“We are ready to go,” the official said. “We are just waiting for the order."

There was no discussion at the Arab League about the potential U.S. strike, though the tone of the statement suggested that the possibility of one drove its tough rhetoric.

While traveling in Ramallah, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy condemned a possible attack on Syria and said there should be a political solution instead. Fahmy did not outline what such a solution should look like.

At one time, Egypt could have brokered such a move, but the nation has faced unprecedented strife in the last two months that has included the military ouster of its first democratically elected president and the deaths of more than 1,100 people in clashes over just four days.

That the Arab world cannot address its own problems frustrated some in Cairo, who said they fear a U.S. strike would lead to more instability in this already fragile part of the world.

“We are talking about Syria now, after a million people have suffered?” asked taxi driver Mohammed Moussa, 61. “Bombing is not the solution. It will only lead to more destruction.”

He also said, “The Arab League is supposed to address the problems of the Arab world. But they are weak. They do nothing.”

Still others questioned why Assad would deploy such weapons, knowing that Obama had called it a “red line” for the United States. But with such turmoil engulfing their own country in recent days, many Egyptians conceded they did not know what to believe had happened in Syria.

Read more World Wires stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, meets with South African President Jacob Zuma in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014.

    Russia's Putin calls for release of Ukrainian POWs

    Russia's President Vladimir Putin has called on pro-Russian separatists fighting government troops in eastern Ukraine to release Ukrainian soldiers they took prisoner and allow them to return home.

  •  
This undated image posted  Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters from the Islamic State group that captured the Tabqa air base from the Syrian government on Sunday, praying inside the air base, in Raqqa, Syria.  A U.N. commission on Wednesday accused the extremist Islamic State organization of committing crimes against humanity with attacks on civilians, as pictures emerged of the extremists' bloody takeover of a Syrian military air base that added to the international organization’s claims.

    UN says Syria refugees top 3 million mark

    The civil war in Syria has forced a record 3 million people out of the country, an increase of 1 million from almost exactly a year ago, the U.N. refugee agency said Friday.

  • Actor arrested with Jackie Chan's son released

    A Taiwanese actor arrested along with the son of Hong Kong film star Jackie Chan on drug charges has been released after two weeks in detention.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category