U.S. works to build coalition to act outside of U.N. mandate
August 28th, 2013
05:31 PM ET

U.S. works to build coalition to act outside of U.N. mandate

By Elise Labott

The United States is working to build international support for military action against Syria, essentially bypassing the United Nations, U.S. officials and diplomatic sources said Wednesday.

As it mulls a possible strike against the Syrian regime in response to last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack by government forces, the sources predicted Russian opposition at the U.N. Security Council would force the United States and a coalition of states to act alone.

A draft Security Council resolution condemning Syria's alleged poison gas use, which killed hundreds of civilians, has stalled due to "intransigence," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Wednesday.

The permanent five members of the Security Council who each have veto power – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – met earlier in the day without reaching consensus.

"We see no avenue forward, given continued Russian opposition to any meaningful council action on Syria," Harf said.

Suggesting the United States and its allies would act without a U.N. mandate, Harf said, "We cannot be held up in responding by Russia's continued intransigence at the United Nations, and quite frankly the situation is so serious that it demands a response."

Britain proposed a U.N. Security Council resolution "condemning the chemical weapons attack by Assad and authorizing necessary measures to protect civilians," but certain opposition by Syrian ally Russia and possibly by China doomed its chances.

None of the sources detected a change in the Russian position and did not expect the Russians to vote for a resolution. American officials suggested Russian pleas to wait for the report of U.N. inspectors was a delaying tactic. For that reason, the United States would not give the Security Council process very long.

“We know the answer we are going to get, but we are going to ask anyway,” one US official said. “We know they are not interested in coming along. But if they can drag this out and have a protracted Security Council process by looking helpful, this is in their interest.”

Although the sources said a U.N. mandate would be preferable, a limited coalition of NATO partners and some Arab League members appeared more likely to act, which would provide President Barack Obama political backing to order U.S. missile strikes.

“This is the last chance,” a Turkish official said. “The strong preference is for the U.N. Security Council to act, but if they once again fail to act, then they themselves are taking the council out of the question and there is nothing left for the international community to do but act. The official cited international intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo as precedents for the world to act without a mandate.

Britain's Parliament, meanwhile, is voting on a motion Thursday that would rule out any consideration of possible military action until the United Nations chemical weapons inspectors explain their findings to the U.N. Security Council.

After the inspectors have made their findings, members of Parliament would be required to take another vote, according to the motion being put forward."

Efforts by the Obama administration to mount international support outside of the United Nations has reaped some benefits. Major NATO partners Britain, France and Germany have called for a tough response in Syria, and a NATO statement Wednesday signaled support for action.

"Those responsible must be held accountable," the statement said. "We consider the use of chemical weapons as a threat to international peace and security."

The NATO language echoed remarks by the Obama administration that sought to justify a military response to what U.S. officials characterize as the worst chemical weapons attack since former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein launched a poison gas attack that killed thousands of Kurds in 1988.

"Allowing the use of chemical weapons on a significant scale to take place without a response would present a significant challenge to or threat to the United States' national security," White House Spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday.

The sources said the coalition has plenty of regional and international political cover and support for a military strike, starting with the Friends of Syria group, made up of 138 nations. Senior officials from 11 of those nations, comprised of the Syrian opposition’s strongest backers, met in Istanbul on Wednesday, where sources said they decided action must be taken to respond to what the United States has called “undeniable” use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.

Next week, foreign ministers from the 22-nation Arab League are expected to pass a resolution blaming Assad for the attack, Arab officials said.

The group’s permanent representatives already pointed the blame at al-Assad in a statement Monday. On Tuesday, the Organization of Islamic Conference, made up of 57 Muslim nations, also issued a statement, stressing “the need to hold the Syrian Government legally and morally accountable” and calling on the Security Council to “take a unified position against this monstrous crime and its perpetrators, and put an end to such violations.”

soundoff (50 Responses)
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  8. Tom

    U.S. politicians should wait to see the UN assessment. If these politicians ignore the UN, they are acting irresponsibly.

    August 30, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Reply
    • George patton

      Good posting, Tom. Thank you.

      August 31, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  9. Windwalker

    At this point I think the United States is being played like a pawn, what better way to get U.S. intervention in a country who clearly is at war with not only an opposition group, but with terrorist states as well. We also have to understand that any country that wishes to further destroy our credibility will use this to their advantage. It would be a great mistake to jump into a war without solid credible evidence from lab tests taken by various international groups. The idea of videos and a few statements made through phone calls intercepted alone do not make a case for war. Jumping into a conflict that is not our own makes us susceptible to backlash if all countries are not in agreement.

    August 29, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Reply
  10. Jerry

    Sure, obama did such a great job in Libya, Egypt, and Packistain (killing Osama). Why would anyone question him about killing a few thousand Syrians? Since Russia is against this and they do have a very important base in Syria, will Putin roll over for Barry, or bloody his nose? What a joke!

    August 29, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Reply
  11. Rembrant

    The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims include promoting and facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, civil rights, civil liberties, political freedoms, democracy, and the achievement of lasting world peace. As a UN member, the US should work with the UN and respect the UN's resolutions. If we are to be the "peaceful nation" we purport to be (HA!), we should at least work with the UN to find a peaceful resolution to this issue.

    August 29, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Reply
    • Jack Hollis

      If we Americans are such a "peaceful" people, then why do we elect these right-wing morons like Barack Obama and Rep. Peter king into office and why are we constantly at war, Rembrant? We need to respect international law, but this we ignore along with our crony British and French allies, or should I say, lackeys? This is just one big obscenity!!!

      August 29, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Reply
  12. dw1650

    The only time social welfare is ever legitimate to our Republican leaders is when it involves any country but our own! It is nauseating knowing the change of heart almost ALWAYS involves how they can profit! The people are seeing transparency within the Republican party alright...we can see right through you and if you continue to undermine the American people by mocking them...one day your secret won't be secret anymore!

    August 29, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Reply
    • Jack Hollis

      Let's just hope you're right, dw1650. The Republicans are a true insult to humanity!

      August 29, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Reply
  13. George patton

    Coalition "building" is no problem as long as one has the money to do it with! Since 1950, bribery has been a very staple part of U.S. foreign policy and that is why almost every country in Europe is behind us as well as the Arab League. These leaders a totally amoral and will stop at nothing to gain a buck! And then again, most of that money has been borrowed from China!!!

    August 29, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Reply
  14. jsmoulder

    Here we go again a president not wanting to work with the UN just like George W Bush did in Iraq. Meet the new boss same as the old boss.

    August 29, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  15. SESZOO

    Still... Whats the big hurry to start throwing missiles into that country , We're told that they have all the evidence we need ,good then show it to the world so everyone knows just who used these weapons and just where they can from .But without it it's still just suspected use which is not enough to bring us into another war , With the whole world focused on this now ,it would have to be someone totally insane to dare use chemicals again there which would end up with them being wiped out right after that. So again whats the hurry without Definete Proof of What was used and By who and where were they made and came from ?

    August 29, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Reply
    • StanCalif

      Right! We, the USA, spend billions on "intelligence", but know nothing. This was GWB's dilemma with Iraq. The decisions made were based on very sloppy evidence, later proven to be untrue. GWB needed one piece of "evidence" to send Colin Powell to the UN and lie! Remember, the only "evidence" ever admitted to was an interview between a CIA agent and an Iraqi taxi driver! The Taxi driver told of numerous installations of WMD's out in the desert, he said he saw them! This was considered "good enough"! Much later, this taxi driver admitted he was only trying to get a good tip!
      Who, in Syria, used lethal gas? We still don't know. Maybe the CIA should go interview some Syrian taxi drivers and get the real story.

      August 29, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Reply
  16. Big Bird

    Only the UN has the moral authority to sanction this kind of thing – let them solve it.
    How can we shed our blood and treasure on something, tragic as it is, which is not our problem and we can't solve it.

    August 29, 2013 at 11:52 am | Reply
    • nonyabidnes2

      The only problem with that statement, is the UN has no morals.

      August 29, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Reply
  17. George patton

    Obama and his rotten right-wing henchmen are not going to stop at anything in order to drag us into another one of their obscene wars of theirs!!! This thugs in Washington are an insult to the rest of the world with their lust for murder and conquest! Enough is enough!!!!!!!!!

    August 29, 2013 at 10:05 am | Reply
  18. U.S.M.C. 1371

    Hate to admit it but that guy in the pic with the C15 on his cevlar might as well have put CIA on there.....

    August 29, 2013 at 7:12 am | Reply
    • cocpuf4u

      He looks like a Frenchman to me. They use the taped numbers to identify temporary guests such as advisers that are not U.N. personnel would be my guess here. Not likely that CIA personnel would be on CNN. LOL

      August 29, 2013 at 11:56 am | Reply
  19. necronn99

    scary just seriously scary.



    August 29, 2013 at 1:04 am | Reply
  20. Jamal

    Great and when China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea decide to form their own little "coalition" against our coalition, then what?

    August 28, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Reply
  21. Fish

    Steps in taking out a dictator are easy just as the President did in Libya, 1. locate the dictator 2. take own the walls protecting him 3. let the people take over!!! If he is loved as he says they will wash his feet if not they will kill him!!! Simple plan tough execution. The President knows what he is doing!!!

    August 28, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Reply
    • Portland tony

      Theirs is a sectarian society where at times there is violent confrontation. And you might ask yourself why our Presidents do not "walk among the people" but are the most protected men on earth.

      August 28, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Reply
    • Alex279

      By the same logic, the President of the United States should disband his own security when traveling within the United States and drive an open limousine along the streets filled with cheering crowds on the sides. He is elected by The People, so people like him and there is nothing to afraid, right?

      Instead, when Obama comes to LA his does so unannounced (we see it on the news only after the fact) and the his route is kept secret for security reasons. Marine helicopters follow to protect him.

      August 29, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Reply
  22. saeed

    what a joke can something be outside international law this is just crazy Obama is a real cocaine junkie.

    August 28, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Reply
    • BIG SHIZ

      And your a gay Muslim.

      August 28, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Reply
      • marco1

        Hay! That's a real insult to gays every where.
        He is a useless Muslim!

        August 29, 2013 at 8:21 am |

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