|Violence near Turkey-Syria border as Syrian refugees try to illegally cross the border|
The United States government is still investigating details about the supposed use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government against the rebellion movement. US Defense secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed this on Monday. The US government released a statement last week indicating the the Syrian government has likely used chemical weapons against the rebels on two separate occasions. It is unclear at this time how severe these attacks were. Congress’ calls for proactive measures - e.g. declaring a no-flyzone - have become increasingly louder over the course of the week.
President Obama declared that the Syrian government would cross a red line by resorting to the use of chemical weapons against its own civilians. Hagel, however, was reluctant to discuss any questions about a possible military intervention as the investigation surrounding the recent events is ongoing.
Meanwhile, preventative measures have been taken at a Turkish hospital located near the Turkey-Syria border for the treatment of Syrians injured in the attacks. It was reported that dozens of Syrian rebellions may have been injured in an attack involving chemical weapons, as was confirmed from sources from inside the Turkish hospital on Tuesday.
|Assad during a rare public appearance|
The use of chemical weapons is considered to be crossing a red line in the international political community. Though there is no conclusive evidence of such warfare tactics occurring in Syria, the possibility and accusations elevates the situation to a new level. The international political community, NATO, and the US in particular, have various options to consider in their efforts to aid the people of Syria.
One, is military action and sending forces to Syria. Obama issued a warning to Assad last August, stating that if he resorted to the use of chemical weapons - or preparing them for use - that would be considered crossing a red line with “enormous consequences”. Prior to that, Obama made the statement that Assad’s government would be held accountable.
Another possibility is for the US to increase their support for the opposition movement. So far, the US has supported the rebels with non-lethal aid. Recently, the Obama administration announced that they would continue and increase their support - up to $250 million worth of assistance. While the supply of arms is one of the various options currently in consideration, that option is to be refrained from until there is conclusive evidence of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The careful selection and supplying the rebels with arms would greatly increase the movement’s appeal in Syria and its effectiveness in their struggle against the authoritarian regime under Assad.
Lastly, NATO needs to consider its role in the Syrian conflict and assess their capabilities and preparation for a possible intervention. The US secretary of state has urged NATO to consider how they are prepared to respond to threats by Syria. Thusfar, NATO has expressed of having no intention to using military intervention in the Syrian conflict. Though there is concern for a possible regional threat to some of its 28 member states, NATO maintains that they will not intervene militarily. If conclusive evidence shows that Assad has in fact used chemical weapons against Syrians, however, NATO and the US government will have to take preventative action to protect its member states and hold firm on their outward political values.
The situation remains uncertain while the investigation is ongoing, but it appears that an intervention by the international community is imminent. The Syrian civil war is an ongoing conflict lasting over 2 years at this time and recent escalations are troublesome. It is recommended that the international community watch closely as the conflict continues and take measures to protect the people of Syria and aid them in their mission to establish an appropriately representative government regime.
Lin Nouheid, Alex Warren. "The Battle for the Arab Spring"
Al Jazeera. “Gauging Hezbollah’s role in Syria” <http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2013/05/20135262433130722.html>
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