The British Parliament has voted against military action on Syria. Prime Minister David Cameron brought up the motion to the parliament to authorize, in principle, a military response to the alleged chemical weapons attacks. The move was, however, struck down 285 to 272. Cameron said he strongly believes "in the need for a tough response to the use of chemical weapons" but that he will not override parliament’s decision. France said it still backs action on Syria despite the British no vote with President Francois Holland maintaining, "All options are on the table." According to U.S. officials, President Barack Obama is prepared to conduct a limited military strike without British involvement, but is continuing to seek a coalition for possible military action. Pentagon officials reported that the navy has moved a fifth destroyer into the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Russia is reportedly also sending two warships to the eastern Mediterranean, but has said it will not be pulled into a military conflict. After a briefing with senior U.S. lawmakers on Thursday, administration officials said they had "no doubt" of the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons. U.S. officials including U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry said evidence includes "intercepted communications from high-level Syrian officials." U.N. inspectors are continuing their investigation on Friday into the suspected chemical weapons attacks, visiting with Syrian soldiers at a military hospital in a government-held area of Damascus. The team of experts is set to leave Syria on Saturday and will report its findings to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are debating a draft resolution that would authorize "all necessary force" to respond to the alleged chemical attacks, however will likely not come to a decision until hearing the results of the investigation.
- Lebanon has charged five men in association with last week’s twin Tripoli mosque bombings, including a Syrian intelligence officer.
- According to Qatar-based Al Jazeera English, four of its journalists have been arrested in Cairo, meanwhile Egyptian authorities have banned Al Jazeera Mubashir Misr channel from working in Egypt.
- A suspected U.S. drone strike killed an al Qaeda leader and two other men in Yemen’s southern province of Bayda Friday.
- Al Qaeda affiliate, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, has claimed responsibility for recent deadly bombings across Iraq saying they have been in retaliation for the execution of Sunni prisoners this month.
- Egyptian naval police shot and injured two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip Friday signaling increased tensions between Hamas and Egyptian leaders.
Arguments and Analysis
‘Obama, Syria & the Constitution‘ (David Cole, New York Review of Books Blog)
"It is possible that the military action now being contemplated by the White House might qualify as ‘humanitarian intervention,’ on the ground that it is designed to forestall further atrocities in Syria. Whether such a response in the absence of UN Security Council approval is permissible under international law is a matter of debate, although most legal scholars would argue that Security Council approval is required. But again, under our Constitution, there is no exception to the requirement of Congressional approval for humanitarian interventions. Any hostile use of military force in another sovereign’s territory without its consent is an act of war, and requires Congress’s assent.
If President Obama ignores this requirement, he won’t be the first. President Clinton ignored it when he gave NATO authorization to use US forces to bomb Kosovo. President Reagan did so when he supported the contras in Nicaragua’s civil war, and when he sent troops to Grenada. President Truman did so in Korea, which he called a ‘police action,’ fooling no one. In fact, the reason Congress enacted the War Powers Resolution was that presidents had too often seized the advantage by unilaterally introducing troops, and only then, if at all, coming to Congress for authorization after the fact, when Congress had no real choice but to support the president."
‘Responsibility to Protect — Or to Punish‘ (Charli Carpenter, Foreign Affairs)
"There are two distinct conversations going on about the legitimacy of the West’s expected military campaign against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. The first has to do with whether military action is an appropriate response to the wanton violation of a near-universally held norm — in this case, the taboo against the use of chemical weapons, which the Assad regime allegedly violated last week. The second centers on whether military action is an appropriate means for protecting civilian populations from atrocities (of whatever kind) committed by their governments. These conversations, although often conflated, have very little to do with one another, since each policy goal suggests a very different form of intervention.
Despite diplomatic rhetoric, the goal of upholding the chemical weapons taboo is not the same thing as the goal of protecting civilians. It has more to do with protecting a set of shared international understandings about the proper conduct of warfare. If the goal were really to protect civilians, the West would have intervened long ago: bombs and guns have killed far more civilians, at least as horribly, as last week’s gas attack.
The Obama administration has already confirmed that its primary concern is with protecting the norm and punishing its violators. Given that goal, the appropriate course of action would be to, first, independently verify who violated it. The United States claims that it has ‘no doubt’ that Syria was behind last week’s chemical attack, but that remains an open question until the UN inspectors have completed their investigation. Second, the United States would have to consider a range of policy options for affirming, condemning, and lawfully punishing the perpetrator before resorting to force, particularly unlawful force. As Article36.org, a nongovernmental organization notes, these might include condemnation, an arms embargo, sanctions, or any of the other bilateral and multilateral measures that are typically used to respond to violations of weapons norms (and which might be at least as effective than air strikes, if not more so). Third, should the United States decide on military action, with or without a UN Security Council resolution, it would need to adhere to international norms regulating the use of specific weapons in combat."
–Mary Casey & Joshua Haber
Yochi Dreazen is a Managing Editor for News at Foreign Policy. He is also writer-in-residence at the Center for a New American Security. His book about military suicide was published by Random House's Crown division in 2014.
Prior to joining Foreign Policy, Dreazen was a contributing editor at the Atlantic and the senior national security correspondent for National Journal. He began his career at the Wall Street Journal and spent 11 years at the newspaper, most recently as its military correspondent. He was born in Chicago, and later attended the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, he edited the award-winning daily campus newspaper and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1999 with degrees in History and English. He was hired by the Wall Street Journal immediately after graduation. Dreazen arrived in Iraq in April 2003 with the Fourth Infantry Division, and spent the next two years living in Baghdad as the Wall Street Journal's main Iraq correspondent.
Dreazen has made more than 12 lengthy trips to Iraq and Afghanistan and has spent a total of nearly four years on the ground in the two countries, mostly doing front-line combat embeds. He has reported from more than 20 countries, including Pakistan, Russia, China, Israel, Japan, Turkey, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia.
In 2010, Dreazen received the Military Reporters & Editors association’s top award for domestic military reporting in a large publication for a series of articles about military suicide and the psychological traumas impacting veterans of the two long wars. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Smithsonian, Tablet and the New Republic and he appears regularly on TV and radio programs such as NPR's Diane Rehm Show and PBS' Washington Week with Gwen Ifill. Dreazen gives frequent lectures about journalism, the wars and current events to both civilian and military audiences.
Dreazen lives in Washington with his wife, Annie Rosenzweig Dreazen, and their beloved Golden Retriever, Charlie.| The Cable |
Colum Lynch is Foreign Policy's award-winning U.N.-based senior diplomatic reporter. Lynch previously wrote Foreign Policy's Turtle Bay blog, for which he was awarded the 2011 National Magazine Award for best reporting in digital media. He is also a recipient of the 2013 Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Silver Prize for his coverage of the United Nations.
Before moving to Foreign Policy, Lynch reported on diplomacy and national security for the Washington Post for more than a decade. As the Washington Post's United Nations reporter, Lynch had been involved in the paper's diplomatic coverage of crises in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, and Somalia, as well as the nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea. He also played a key part in the Post's diplomatic reporting on the Iraq war, the International Criminal Court, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and U.S. counterterrorism strategy. Lynch's enterprise reporting has explored the underside of international diplomacy. His investigations have uncovered a U.S. spying operation in Iraq, Dick Cheney's former company's financial links to Saddam Hussein, and documented numerous sexual misconduct and corruption scandals.
Lynch has appeared frequently on the Lehrer News Hour, MSNBC, NPR radio, and the BBC. He has also moderated public discussions on foreign policy, including interviews with Susan E. Rice, the U.S. National Security Advisor, Gerard Araud, France's U.N. ambassador, and other senior diplomatic leaders.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Lynch received a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985 and a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 1987. He previously worked for the Boston Globe.| Turtle Bay |