- By Josh Rogin
A group of Syrian activists extended a long, symbolic red line in front of the White House Sunday in a call for the Obama administration to respond aggressively to the Syrian regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons.
The Syrian American Council, a U.S.-based group that supports the Syrian opposition, organized a series of events in the Washington area over the weekend and coordinated the White House protest. The group’s sign, directed at President Barack Obama, reads "Your credibility is on the line."
Obama gave no indication that his administration would change its calculus on whether or not to more aggressively support the armed Syrian opposition with lethal aid during his April 30 press conference. He did promise to continue to investigate what are now at least four instances of alleged chemical weapons use in Syria, two of which the U.S. intelligence community has said it can confirm, albeit with various degrees of confidence and with questions about who might be the perpetrator.
"And what we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria, but we don’t know how they were used, when they were used, who used them; we don’t have chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened," Obama said. ""Obviously, there are options that are available to me that are on the shelf right now that we have not deployed, and that’s a spectrum of options… And I won’t go into the details of what those options might be."
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the administration is considering providing arms to the rebels but that a decision isn’t likely for several weeks, as Obama prepares to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in June. Secretary of State John Kerry is set to travel to Moscow soon.
National Security Staff spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said that the administration is now discussing non-lethal military aid to the Syrian opposition, such as body armor and night-vision goggles, but no final decisions have been made on lethal assistance.
"As the president has said, our assistance to the Syrian opposition has been on an upward trajectory, and he has directed his national security team to identify additional measures so that we can continue to increase our assistance," she said. "We continue to consider all other possible options that would accomplish our objective of hastening a political transition, but have no new announcements at this time."
Russia now open to U.N. inspectors; The Syrian doves on the Hill reconsider intervention as WH ponders options; DoD could be forced to fire more than 6k civilians; Are they real? a new kind of IED; Situation Report goes dark for a week; and a bit more.Gordon Lubold
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.| Situation Report |