Evidence of Assad’s Involvement Lacking

Yagiz Harun, Contributing Writer

On Aug. 21, President Assad’s forces supposedly used sarin gas on civilians. British Prime Minister David Cameron jumped at the chance to propose an attack on Syria. Using the G-20 Summit as a platform to discuss military involvement, he convinced President Obama to pledge U.S. military support.

Prime Minister Cameron took the proposition to the House of Commons, but it got rejected. French President François Hollande initially backed the attack but recently decided to pull his support. This has left President Obama in a sticky situation. Without international support, a military engagement of Syria will involve U.S. forces only. Still hurting from the years, resources and lives spent in the Middle East, President Obama is wary of involvement in another conflict.

By seeking Congress’s support, he buys himself some time to back out and save face. Since President Obama declared his intention to attack Syria before the G-20 Summit, he cannot suddenly rescind his promise to punish the use of chemical weapons and maintain his image.

And surprise! Enter a wild Vladimir Putin (it just wouldn’t be a party without him). Putin has demanded that Assad give up the chemical weapons to “international organizations.” What is implicit in this statement is that Assad should relinquish the chemical weapons to international organizations so Putin can distribute them to terrorist organizations in Syria to be used against the Free Syrian Army. Putin’s offer is not an innocuous bailout option, but it will still help Obama escape this situation with less damage to his reputation.

First, this is not a national security problem, as President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry keep claiming. A government’s use of chemical weapons is a transgression of international law, and that makes it an issue of the United Nations. Meanwhile, the U.N. has taken a neutral stance on the conflict, and both Russia and China are busy creating obstacles in the U.N. Security Council. Second, there is no evidence that shows us definitively who used the chemical weapons. Neither Prime Minister Cameron nor President Obama has given us legitimate evidence to support that claim.

The videos that have been released showing the affected civilians cannot be used as evidence of Assad’s guilt because they do not involve him in any way. What if these videos are just the Free Syrian Army trying to evoke intervention by an external force in hopes of ruining Assad’s chances of winning? What if the videos are a U.S. attempt to compel us to attack Syria? I watched both the voting in the House of Commons and President Obama’s speech live, and I was not convinced by the attack propositions. If the claim is to counter the abuse of chemical weapons, then why haven’t we attacked Iran or North Korea, both of whom are developing nuclear weapons? Why just Syria? Also, chemical weapons have been used many times before this civil war, and none of the nations in the world took action. Why now? Is it worth it to intervene in Syria just to protect Israel?

I believe an intervention in the Syrian Civil War would have very negative consequences for the U.S. Syria is in great turmoil, and once we intervene, we cannot just walk away. We all know that a U.S. intervention would not cease with a “limited attack to degrade and deter Assad’s power to use chemical weapons,” as President Obama states. How could we acquire the chemical weapons without executing a land operation anyway? Is the plan to “force pull” the weapons from Syrian destroyers or fighter jets?

As far as I know, the U.S. military does not have any Jedis to assist us on this impossible mission. Even with Assad out of power, Syria is still destined to be in chaos for years to come. Like the Iraq War, this war may have no winner. Action in this matter should not be left to our discretion and instead must be decided upon by the U.N.