National Security Brief: U.S. Stresses Political Solution To Syria Conflict Amid Talk Of Air Strikes


chuck hagel


It appears that the United States is pursuing a two-pronged approach to the situation in Syria in response to President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged us of chemical weapons against opposition forces and civilians.

“[A]mid mounting signs the U.S. will soon conduct strikes in Syria, the White House made clear Tuesday that the purpose of the intervention would be limited and narrow, to uphold the universal prohibition on the use of chemical weapons,” reports Laura Rozen at Al-Monitor. “There were also signs of intensifying UN diplomacy behind the scenes to make way for a Syria peace conference in Geneva this fall.”

Top U.S. officials have repeatedly said that any military response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons would not involve a push for regime change. “We are very engaged in the process of pursuing a political resolution to this conflict. We have stated for a long time that there is no military solution available here; that the way to bring about a better future in Syria is through negotiation and a political resolution,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Tuesday.

Noting some behind the scenes diplomatic moves at the UN hinting at another effort at Syria peace talks, Rozen adds: “The emerging U.S. plan, then, seems to be limited strikes solely to uphold the universal prohibition on, and deter the use of chemical weapons; while simultaneously redoubling diplomatic efforts for Geneva2, likely in October.”

The limited military campaign against Assad would largely rely on cruise missiles and, according to the New York Times, “be aimed at military units that have carried out chemical attacks, the headquarters overseeing the effort and the rockets and artillery that have launched the attacks.”

While the Arab League said it blamed Assad for the attack last week, news that it would not publicly support a U.S.-led retaliatory strike may complicate its legitimacy given that it is widely understood that the operation will take place without backing from the United Nations Security Council.

The British reportedly will propose a new U.N. resolution authorizing action to protect Syrian civilians from chemical weapons use, but it’s probable that Russia and China will not sign on.

Further complicating any potential military strike on Syria is that, as the Wall Street Journal reports, “would likely dash expectations of progress in nuclear negotiations with Iran and undermine new Iranian President Hasan Rouhani’s call for improving relations with the West.”

In other news:

  • AFP reports: Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel met with his Asian counterparts on Wednesday as the United States promotes its strategic tilt towards the region but a potential showdown with Syria loomed over the talks.
  • The AP reports: After a brief courtship last spring, relations between Israel and Turkey have fallen to a new low, officials in both countries say, just as the two former allies are bracing for possible U.S. military action in neighboring Syria.
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