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Obama meets resistance as he presses case for Syria strike

English.news.cn   2013-09-08 10:08:29            

BEIJING, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama ran into resistance from war-weary American republic and lawmakers as he continued to press his case for a military strike on Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons.

The White House said Saturday that for that purpose, Obama, who just returned Friday night from a Group of 20 (G20) summit in Russia, will tape his interviews with anchors of ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN and Fox News.

The networks will air the interviews Monday night ahead of a planned televised speech to the nation that the president will make from the White House on Tuesday, in another push to win support for his military plan on Syria.

Obama announced on Aug. 31 that he decided to launch a limited military strike on Syria, but will first seek congressional authorization.

He argues that the planned attack is aimed at punishing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for perpetrating a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 outside Damascus, which says have killed 1,429 people, including 426 children.

However, Obama is facing an uphill battle in both chambers of Congress as public opinion polls have repeatedly shown that most Americans are against military intervention in Syria and many traditional allies, such as Britain, have refused to join the United States in the action.

In the Democrat-controlled Senate, the president looks likely to get enough support after the Foreign Relations Committee passed Wednesday a resolution on authorizing limited U.S. action against Syria, thanks to the support of several hawks from the Republican Party.

The full Senate house will debate and vote on the resolution in the week of Sept. 9 after it returns from the summer break.

The real test for Obama, however, will be in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives, where many Republican lawmakers have expressed opposition to the military strike against Syria despite the rare calls for support to Obama from Republican Speaker John Boehner and majority leader Eric Cantor.

On Saturday, anti-war protesters took to the streets in Washington DC, asking Congress to reject President Barack Obama's plan of military action against Syria.

The protesters gathered around noon at the White House, loudly chanting slogans such as "You say more war, we say no war" and " Obama, hands off Syria, Congress, hands off Syria." They walked in circles on the pavement in front of the White House, holding placards reading "Bombing Syria doesn't protect people, it kills them."

Several protesters even played soccer in front of the White House, while chanting "make soccer, not war."

Radhika Miller, an activist with anti-war group ANSWER Coalition, said she is against the strike on Syria because "the bombs we drop around the world explode here at home," as many people in the United States still suffer from joblessness and other pains of a sluggish economy, while billions were squandered in military actions in distant land.

"We are against the war not because we are isolationists," said Miller, pointing to the White House behind her. "It's because the bombs dropped in Syria kill people, and we will not allow you to kill people in our name."

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of anti-war group Code Pink, said in the coming week, the American public will be able to see if the Congress will listen to the voice of the people, or will just go ahead and authorize another war.

"This war will not help the Syrian people, it will not help the American people, and it will not help the international rule of law," said Benjamin, noting the use of force is only legal when it is in self-defense or with United Nations Security Council authorization.

Without UN backing, a U.S. strike against Syria is illegal, Benjamin said.

Multiple polls show that the U.S. public is overwhelmingly against military action in Syria, and lawmakers are deeply divided on the issue.

Protesters took to the streets of Washington on Saturday, urging Congress to reject President Barack Obama's plan of military action against Syria.

The protesters gathered around noon at the White House, loudly chanting slogans such as "You say more war, we say no war" and " Obama, hands off Syria, Congress, hands off Syria." They walked in circles on the pavement in front of the White House, holding placards reading "Bombing Syria doesn't protect people, it kills them."

Several protesters even played soccer in front of the White House, while chanting "make soccer, not war."

Radhika Miller, an activist with anti-war group ANSWER Coalition, said she is against the strike on Syria because "the bombs we drop around the world explode here at home," as many people in the United States still suffer from joblessness and other pains of a sluggish economy, while billions were squandered in military actions in distant land.

"We are against the war not because we are isolationists," said Miller, pointing to the White House behind her. "It's because the bombs dropped in Syria kill people, and we will not allow you to kill people in our name."

The Obama administration accuses Syrian President Bashar al- Assad's government of using chemical weapons against its own people, which Damascus denies, and Obama has asked Congress to authorize a punitive military strike.

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of anti-war group Code Pink, said in the coming week, the American public will be able to see if the Congress will listen to the voice of the people, or will just go ahead and authorize another war.

"This war will not help the Syrian people, it will not help the American people, and it will not help the international rule of law," said Benjamin, noting the use of force is only legal when it is in self-defense or with United Nations Security Council authorization.

Without UN backing, a U.S. strike against Syria is illegal, Benjamin said.

Multiple polls show that the U.S. public is overwhelmingly against the potential strike, and even some political allies of Obama expressed doubt.

Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, said the administration had not met his criteria for gaining his support: a compelling national security interest, a clearly defined mission with a definitive end, and a coalition of allies.

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday stressed the need to take quick moves to respond the alleged use of the deadly gas in Damascus.

Fabius added that all the members of the UN Security Council should denounce the Syrian government and support the use of force.

However, he also said "the solution to end the Syrian crisis will be political."

French President Francois Hollande said he won't declare his decision on how to punish the Syrian regime over the alleged chemical until an UN investigation report on the issue is released.

"I'll await the UN report which will ready in a reasonable delay ... I will have all the elements which allow me to address French people and announce the decision I made (over action against Syria)," he said,

It is unclear when the UN investigator will unveil the report.

"We are not saying when that will be, except as soon as feasible... This is a scientific timeline, not a political timeline," said UN chief spokesman Martin Nesirky.

Editor: Yang Yi
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