On Saturday, President Obama made the decision to seek Congressional approval on any possible military strikes in Syria. This in response to the chemical weapons attack carried out on the Syrian people on August 21, likely ordered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that the United States has proof that Saran gas was used in the attack.
Opinions vary widely on what the global response to the attack should be. British Prime Minister David Cameron called the British Parliament back into special session last week. But any British military involvement was voted down. Cameron had wanted to delay any vote until a report by U.N. Weapons Inspectors was issued. However, Inspectors did not leave Syria until Saturday, and any report will not be issued until at least some time later this week. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also stated late last week that there would be no Canadian military involvement. French President Francois Hollande had initially pledged support in the region, but had recently backed off that position, saying he felt that a political solution was needed.
Here at home, opinions vary on what course the United States should take. While many in Congress believe that a strong message should be sent to the Assad regime, that using chemical weapons is unacceptable, and that the United States should take the lead in sending that message, many lawmakers are reluctant to engage in another Middle-East conflict, if there is no clear national security, or other American interests at stake. Another problem, the "red line" statement made by the President last summer. Most Republicans want Obama's threat backed up with action. Key Congressional members continue to be briefed on the fluid situation. But no action is expected to be taken until Congress returns to Washington from their summer break on September 9.
Questions remain as to whether Assad ordered the attack himself, and if an American objective is to remove him from office. If Assad goes, the possibility of a Muslim Brotherhood or Al Qaeda-backed replacement taking control is very real. The threat to allies in the region also remains high. Iran has already announced that if the U.S. does strike Syria, they will consider launching attacks against Israel.
Tensions remain extremely high. The world waits to see if the United States will continue to "lead from behind".