Tonight, President Obama will address the nation to lay out his plan for addressing the crisis in Syria. Until recently, the President was expected to make a case for U.S. military intervention, which is embroiled in a violent civil war. But after an off-the-cuff remark by Secretary of State John Kerry insinuating that a military strike could be averted if Syria handed over its stockpile of chemical weapons to the U.N., a diplomatic solution is now in the works.
Russia, Syria’s biggest ally, backed Secretary Kerry’s proposed solution and has gotten the Syrian government on board. Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halki agreed to turn over his country’s chemical weapons to international inspectors “to spare Syrian blood.” Although a diplomatic solution seems possible, the Obama Administration isn’t celebrating just yet.
President Obama has said that the purpose of U.S. intervention in Syria was not to influence the outcome of the civil war or topple the Assad government, but rather enforce international law that bans the use of chemical weapons by governments, and also sends a message to Iran that these types of attacks will not be tolerated. While a diplomatic solution seems to be coming together, many, like Senator John McCain, are still pushing the President to intervene in the Syrian conflict, which has killed nearly 100,000 people.
While the Obama Administration insists the proposed solution only came about because of the threat of bombings by the U.S. and France, some are calling this compromise a win for the Assad regime.
According to reports, Assad’s military bombed rebel-held districts in Damascus on Tuesday for the first time since the chemical weapon attack on August 21.
Assad’s warplanes bombed rebellious districts inside the Damascus city limits on Tuesday for the first time since the August 21 poison gas attacks. Rebels said the strikes demonstrated that the government had concluded the West had lost its nerve.
“By sending the planes back, the regime is sending the message that it no longer feels international pressure,” activist Wasim al-Ahmad said from Mouadamiya, one of the districts of the capital hit by the chemical attack.
The war has already killed more than 100,000 people and driven millions from their homes. It threatens to spread violence across the Middle East, with countries endorsing the sectarian divisions that brought civil war to Lebanon and Iraq.
The Russian proposal “is a cheap trick to buy time for the regime to kill more and more people,” said Sami, a member of the local opposition coordinating committee in the Damascus suburb of Erbin, also hit by last month’s chemical attack.
The proposed compromise would allow Syria to avoid attacks the U.S. and France if they hand over their vast chemical weapons stash to U.N. inspectors. However, if they agree to the terms, but fail to meet them, the U.S. and its allies would reserve the right to use military force. China, who has continuously vetoed any effort to take action in Syria, has also agreed to support to the deal.
During President Obama’s address to the nation tonight he is expected to outline the diplomatic proposal and how his administration plans to proceed.