UN report on Syria: Is White House jumping to conclusion?

It is important to note that nowhere in the UN report it has been mentioned that the Syrian government fired the missiles.

US president Barak Obama today cleared the way for assistance to the Syrian opposition and other organisations working in the country regarding chemical weapons. This has come only after the release of the UN report which said that sarin-filled rockets were fired on the people.

This is clearly a victory for the US, UK and France, which was all the way talking about the use of sarin gas. But the assistance is riding on the conclusion which US has jumped to by itself.

It is important to note that nowhere in the UN report it has been mentioned that the Syrian government fired the missiles. When Ban ki-Moon was asked by the media whether he knew he was behind the attack, he replied that “we may all have our own thoughts” but it was for “others to decide” what steps should be taken to bring those responsible to justice.

As reported by the BBC, UK foreign secretary William Hague and US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power used similar tone and language regarding the report. They both said that the “technical details” of the report made it clear that only the regime could have carried out such a large scale attack. In fact Power also pointed out that 122 mm rockets cited in the report was of the type previously associated with Syrian government forces and that the quality of Sarin was higher than that used by Saddam Hussain in Iraq. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius too has supported the idea.

According to media reports, the White House said the non-lethal assistance could fall into three categories:

-Chemical weapons-related “personal protective” equipment to international organizations working in Syria, including the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

-Medical assistance to strengthen local Syrian health care providers’ ability to prepare for and respond to the use of chemical weapons.

-Defensive chemical weapons training and protective equipment to vetted members of the Syrian opposition to protect against the use of deadly gases.

A senior Obama administration official said the assistance and training would not give the Syrian opposition the ability to prepare, deploy or move the chemical weapons stockpiles. The U.S. says it believes Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad’s government retains control of the deadly gases.

Obama, who has repeatedly said the use of chemical weapons would cross his “red line,” appeared ready to launch a U.S. military strike against Syria in response to the sarin attack. But he reversed course and instead decided to seek approval of Congress, where there was widespread opposition to a strike.

Before lawmakers took any votes, an ambitious agreement emerged between the U.S. and Russia calling for an inventory of Syria’s chemical weapons program within a week. All components of Syria’s chemical weapons program are to be removed from the country or destroyed by mid-2014.

Russia has long been one of Mr. Assad’s strongest military and economic backers. The differences between Washington and Moscow will only deepen as later will see this assistance and jumping to conclusion as another excuse to war.

The need of the hour is a full investigation as to who gassed who rather than devising strategies to deploy military or any other intervention. Sure, White House would not like to repeat its Afghanistan mistake.

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