-US President Obama says "limited" action in Syria necessary, believes US Congress will agreeANKARA (AA) - US President Barack Obama has reiterated his position that the current situation in Syria requires military response, and is a test of the credibility of the international community.
ANKARA (AA) – US President Barack Obama has reiterated his position that the current situation in Syria requires military response, and is a test of the credibility of the international community.
Obama said the “red line” regarding chemical weapons use in Syria was not his designation, but a requirement of international norms and regulations.
“I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line,” he said during a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt in capital Stockholm.
“The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use even when countries are engaged in war.”
– Congress likely to approve action-
Obama said the world’s credibility was “on the line” in responding to last week’s gas attack in Syria that killed 1,500 people, for which the US and its allies blame the Syrian government.
“My credibility’s not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line, and America and Congress’ credibility is on the line because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important,” he said.
Obama has already received key backing from Congress members for a US-led operation in Syria, with Republican leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor signaling their support for a military intervention.
“I believe Congress will approve it because I think America recognizes that, as difficult as it is to take any military action — even one as limited as we’re talking about — even one without boots on the ground — that’s a sober decision,” he said.
If the international community does not maintain norms and standards, the world would become “more dangerous, not only for those people who are subjected to these horrible crimes, but to all of humanity,” he said.
Obama said he was aware he did not require authorization from Congress to order military action, but added it was “important to have Congress’ support on it.”
“I would not have taken this before Congress just as a symbolic gesture. I think it’s very important that Congress say that we mean what we say. And I think we will be stronger as a country in our response if the president and Congress does it together.”
– Syria not Iraq-
President Obama drew a distinction between Iraq and Syria, suggesting that the intelligence on use of chemical weapons in Syria was more reliable than that on the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
“Keep in mind, I’m somebody who opposed the war in Iraq and am not interested in repeating mistakes of us basing decisions on faulty intelligence,” he said.
“But having done a thoroughgoing evaluation of the information that is currently available, I can say with high confidence: chemical weapons were used.”
– “Hopeful” on dialogue with Russia-
Regarding the US-Russia relations, Obama expressed hope for better dialogue, although he said differences exist between the countries’ perspectives, not least in their approach towards the Syrian government and its culpability in the gas attack.
“Do I hold out hope that Mr. Putin may change his position on some of these issues? I’m always hopeful, and I will continue to engage him.”