As Royal Navy warships ready themselves for a joint operation with American naval forces against Syria, developments also transpired Aug 25 which indicates that Pres. Obama is trying to shield Pres. Assad from any military intervention by stalling and delaying any action.
In a secure phone conference with Pres. Obama, French Pres. Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the weekend Prime Minister David Cameron pushed for a “very targeted attack” within the next week to ten days to “prevent and deter” Assad from further use of WMD against the people of Syria.
While all the leaders agreed on the need of a serious message being sent to Pres. Assad, an anonymous senior State Dept. official labeled any UN inspection that took place at the chemical attack site as being "non-credible" based on the fact that Syrian forces apparently bombarded the site of the chemical attack a second time and likely destroyed evidence. That non-credibility obviously cuts both ways.
Pres. Obama is also apparently waiting on an intelligence assessment about what happened in Syria which could take several days while also insisting on building a coalition for a possible strike in Syria. On Aug 25, Pres. Obama spoke to French Pres. Francois Hollande who told Obama 'everyone was in agreement' the Syrian government was responsible for the attack. Obama only would agree to continue to consult closely.
Israeli intelligence has already confirmed that Pres. Assad’s brother Maher Assad in command of the Syrian Fourth Armored Division ordered the chemical strike. The international group, Doctors Without Borders has also confirmed 3,500 plus victims brought to hospitals for treatment with several hundred not surviving.
An influx of numbers which places the scale of the attack well beyond the capabilities of anyone in Syria but, the Syrian Army. Saudi sources have also now confirmed the chemical weapons were Iranian, made intentionally outside of the Iranian regimes military production process and the attack itself was coordinated with Iran.
As Pres. Obama began his first term in 2009, he reached out to Syria’s Assad and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. While the reach out to Iran met with little success, that with Assad led to the recess appointment in 2010 of Ambassador Robert Ford to Syria. Though short lived due to the civil war, it was a normalization of relations which had been suspended in 2005 after Syria became a conduit for al-Qaida fighters against US troops in Iraq.
Obama’s often stated goal in the Middle East is to force Israel to return to the 1949 borders which leave no more than Israeli rump-state and of course cede control of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority.
While pushing this narrative openly with Israeli leadership, Obama also sought to form a pincer against Israel of Syria and Hezbollah to the north and a Muslim Brotherhood controlled Egypt to the south; resurrecting a strategic threat to Israel that ended with the Camp David Peace Accords and permanent demilitarization of the Sinai.
The southern pincer collapsed with the coup that removed Pres. Morsi from power in Egypt. Since that turn of events the current interim Egyptian government has been working closely though quietly with Israel to pacify the Sinai once again which has been infiltrated by an unknown number of al-Qaida and Hamas militants.
If there is a military strike against Syria, it more than likely will hasten the final defeat and fall of Pres. Assad and hand victory to the rebels. After which, all support for Hezbollah via Syria will melt away.
Syria under control of the Assad Dynasty has been Iran’s base of logistics and material support to Hezbollah. Any attempt to do so directly by Iran would be halted by the Israel military, presuming it was not first halted by Egypt closing the Suez Canal to Iranian traffic.
Pres. Obama needs Hezbollah and its many thousands of rockets intact and in place threatening northern Israel. And, without Pres. Assad in control of the regions of Syria bordering Lebanon, there is no Hezbollah.
The importance of this is clearly demonstrated by Assad’s own conduct of the Syrian Civil War in that he has given up control of eastern Syria, handed Syrian Kurds virtual autonomy and even allowed portions of his own Alawite homeland to be overrun by rebels, just to marshal his forces to hold the areas bordering Lebanon and of course to hold Damascus, the hub of operations and logistics between Iran and Hezbollah.
Pres. Obama’s actions always speak louder than his echoing speeches, and his actions vis-à-vis Syria clearly indicate his desire to ‘run out the clock’ on any justification for military strike against Syria.