Syria Looms Large Over G8 Conference
“You set an example for people in other corners of the world. You are the blueprint,” Obama said before an audience at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall.
First, the leaders of the G8 must overcome their differences on Syrian intervention. British Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged he has concerns about elements of the Syrian rebels, but argued that does not mean “we shouldn’t accept that the only alternative to Assad is terrorism and violence.”
Britain’s Foreign Secretary echoed Cameron’s concern by acknowledging that there are “no palatable options” remaining after more than two years of war.
London’s Mayor Boris Johnson argues that the time for intervention has passed and that no winner can emerge from the current crisis.
“Surely to goodness it is time to recognize that no one can win this conflict, because it has become at least partly a religious conflict, between Sunni and Shia. No one can win that conflict because it is almost beyond reason,” Johnson writes, who also contends sending arms will not produce a resolution.
“This is the moment for a total ceasefire, an end to the madness. It is time for the US, Russia, the EU, Turkey, Iran, Saudi and all the players to convene an intergovernmental conference to try to halt the carnage.”
US Pledged Support, But Has Not Contacted Rebels
While the Obama administration used the disclosure that Syria had used chemical weapons as justification for providing additional support to the rebels, The Daily Beast reports that leaders of the rebel forces have yet to be contacted by any US officials.
Russia Maintains Hard And Blunt Line On Intervention
Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who has consistently rejected the notion of offering support for the rebels or endorsing a no-fly zone, was less delicate in expressing his doubts about the rebels. “One hardly should back those who kill their enemies and, you know, eat their organs,” he said.
Lawmakers Concerned White House Lacks Plan
Even US lawmakers have voiced reservations. Many believe the window of opportunity has closed and fear the administration is moving forward without a firm plan.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said the White House has to explain in greater depth what their plan is before Congress will approve further action.
“It seems to me they have a great media strategy. They don’t have a great Syrian strategy, and I don’t believe any of our members – and we had both Republicans and Democrats on the committee – express concern about where they think we are today, and where we think the administration wants to go,” Rogers said.
Egypt Ends Relations With Syria
In a sign of the concern regional nations feel about the growing presence of radicals in Syria, Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi said his government planned to cut ties with Syria and would withdraw its charge d’affaires from Damascus. He also called for Hezbollah forces to withdraw.