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

  •  
A Vatican Swiss Guard looks at Pope Francis delivering the Urbi and Orbi (Latin for to the city and to the world) blessing from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the end of the Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square at the the Vatican Sunday, April 20, 2014.

    Pope's Easter Message 'Urbi et Orbi'

    The following is the text of the Vatican's official English-language translation of Pope Francis' Easter Sunday "Urbi et Orbi" (Latin for 'to the city and to the world') read by him in Italian from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

  • Emirati firm promises to send citizen into space

    One lucky citizen of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates could soon get the chance to be rocketed into space.

  •  
In this Thursday, April 17, 2014 photo provided by the Australian Defense Force, Commander James Lybrand, Mission Commander ADV Ocean Shield, left, and Chris "Sharkie" Moore, Phoenix team leader, watch the launching of the Phoenix International Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Artemis as it is craned over the side of Australian Defense Vessel Ocean Shield before launching it in to the southern Indian Ocean in the search of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Up to 11 aircraft and 12 ships continue to scan the ocean surface for debris from the Boeing 777 that disappeared March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. (AP Photo/Australian Defense Force, Bradley Darvill) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

    Malaysia, Flight 370 relatives talk financial help

    A Malaysian official met Sunday with relatives of passengers who were aboard the missing jetliner and discussed ways of providing them with financial assistance, as an unmanned submarine continued to search for any signs of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

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