Following President Barack Obama’s speech in the White House Rose Garden Saturday, where he announced he would defer to congressional debate before striking the Assad regime, members of the Syrian government wasted no time in hailing the move as a victory.
“Obama backed off of his decision. He must admit the victory of Syria,” Sheikh Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of Syria (the highest religious law official) and a close ally of Syrian president Bashar al Assad , told Israeli YNetNews, adding that Syria was winning “thanks to its leader, its people and its army, and this proved that the issue is not one of ethnic groups, but of homeland, which does not to yield to anyone except Allah.”
In his speech, Obama said he was “ready to act,” and challenged Congress to follow his lead. He maintained that he does not need to seek congressional approval to strike, citing the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons that killed approximately 1,400 of its own people.
“We lead with the belief that right makes might. Not the other way around,” Obama said. “Now’s the time to show the world that America keeps our commitments.”
While many in Congress commended the president for allowing the issue to be debated, the Syrian Deputy Prime Minister told YNetNews it was “the Syrian army’s readiness [that] warded off U.S. aggression against Syria.”
In a telephone interview with Syrian State television, Syria’s envoy to UN Bashar al-Jaafari said that Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron — who last week ruled out military action after failing to get parliamentary approval — had “climbed to the top of the tree” but didn’t know how to get down, and so had deferred the decision to lawmakers.
On the other hand Syrians opposed to Assad expressed anger Sunday that President Obama had decided against an imminent strike in Syria.
The Syrian Opposition Coalition released a statement urging Congress to support military action, saying that if the international community does not respond to Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons, it would set a dangerous example for other dictatorships around the world.
“Assad has been given the green light by the international community,” said Musab Abu Qatada of the Damascus Military Council, speaking from a rebel-held area west of the capital. “The message he got from the international community is that he can kill his people with conventional means, just not with chemical weapons.”
Although it’s possible that Congress could be pulled back early, it’s more likely that military action against Syria will come up for a vote the week of September 9th.
business insider/ agencies
Photo : Syria’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun, is shown with a picture of his son Saria who was shot dead near Ibla University on the Idleb-Aleppo highway in October 2011.