Putin Warned West over Syria: Did We Forget about Iraq?
Al Ahed news
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West against taking one-sided action in Syria.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press and Russia’s state Channel 1 television, Putin said Moscow has provided some components of the S-300 air defense missile system to Syria but has frozen further shipments. He suggested that Russia may sell the potent missile systems elsewhere if Western nations attack Syria without UN Security Council backing.
The interview Tuesday night at Putin’s country residence outside the Russian capital was the only one he granted prior to the summit of G-20 nations in St. Petersburg, which opens Thursday. The summit was supposed to concentrate on the global economy but now looks likely to be dominated by the international crisis over Syria.
Putin said he felt sorry that President Barack Obama canceled a one-on-one meeting in Moscow that was supposed to have happened before the summit. But he expressed hope the two would have serious discussions about Syria and other issues in St. Petersburg.
“President Obama hasn’t been elected by the American people in order to be pleasant to Russia. And your humble servant hasn’t been elected by the people of Russia to be pleasant to someone either,” he said of their relationship.
In parallel, Putin said: “We work, we argue about some issues. We are human. Sometimes one of us gets vexed. But I would like to repeat once again that global mutual interests form a good basis for finding a joint solution to our problems.”
Putin said it was “ludicrous” that the Syrian regime would use chemical weapons at a time when it was holding sway against the rebels.
“From our viewpoint, it seems absolutely absurd that the armed forces, the regular armed forces, which are on the offensive today and in some areas have encircled the so-called rebels and are finishing them off, that in these conditions they would start using forbidden chemical weapons while realizing quite well that it could serve as a pretext for applying sanctions against them, including the use of force,” he said.
“If there are data that the chemical weapons have been used, and used specifically by the regular army, this evidence should be submitted to the UN Security Council,” added Putin, and conditioned : “It ought to be convincing. It shouldn’t be based on some rumors and information obtained by special services through some kind of eavesdropping, some conversations and things like that.”
He noted that even in the US, “there are experts who believe that the evidence presented by the administration doesn’t look convincing, and they don’t exclude the possibility that the opposition conducted a premeditated provocative action trying to give their sponsors a pretext for military intervention.”
He compared the evidence presented by Washington to false data used by the Bush administration about weapons of mass destruction to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
“All these arguments turned out to be untenable, but they were used to launch a military action, which many in the US called a mistake. Did we forget about that?” Putin said.
He said he “doesn’t exclude” backing the use of force against Syria at the United Nations if there is objective evidence proving that regime used chemical weapons against its people. But he strongly warned Washington against launching military action without UN approval, saying it would represent an aggression.
Putin reinforced his demand that before taking action, Obama needed approval from the UN Security Council. Russia can veto resolutions in the council and has protected Syria from punitive actions there before.
Asked what kind of evidence on chemical weapons use would convince Russia, Putin said “it should be a deep and specific probe containing evidence that would be obvious and prove beyond doubt who did it and what means were used.”
Putin said it was “too early” to talk about what Russia would do if the US attacked Syria.
“We have our ideas about what we will do and how we will do it in case the situation develops toward the use of force or otherwise,” he said. “We have our plans.”
Putin called the S-300 air defense missile system “a very efficient weapon” and said that Russia had a contract for its delivery of the S-300s to Syria. “We have supplied some of the components, but the delivery hasn’t been completed. We have suspended it for now,” he said.
“But if we see that steps are taken that violate the existing international norms, we shall think how we should act in the future, in particular regarding supplies of such sensitive weapons to certain regions of the world,” he said.
On another level, Putin also accused US intelligence agencies of bungling efforts to apprehend Snowden, the National Security Agency leader, who is wanted in the US on espionage charges. He said the United States could have allowed Snowden to go to a country where his security would not be guaranteed or intercepted him along the way, but instead pressured other countries not to accept him or even to allow a plane carrying him to cross their airspace. Russia has granted him temporary asylum.
Syria Says Will Not Give in ’Even If There Is WWIII’
Syria’s deputy foreign minister said Wednesday the state would miqdadnot give in to threats of a US-led military strike against the country, even if a third world war erupts.
Faisal Muqdad said the government had taken “every measure” to counter a potential intervention aimed at punishing Syria over a suspected deadly poison gas strike and was mobilizing its allies.
“The Syrian government will not change position even if there is World War III. No Syrian can sacrifice the independence of his country,” he said.
“Syria has taken every measure to retaliate against… an aggression,” he added, refusing to provide any clue as to what that might mean.
Muqdad said Syria was mobilizing its allies ahead of a possible strike, as US President Barack Obama lobbies Congress to back intervention and the French parliament debates the issue.
The Syrian official added two of America’s top allies in the region, Jordan and Turkey, should think twice before participating.
“Once the attack against Syria starts from Jordan and Turkey then they will both suffer,” said Mr. Mekdad.
Russia sends missile cruiser to Eastern Mediterranean
Russian military officials say Moscow is sending three more naval ships, including a missile cruiser, to the Eastern Mediterranean, as the United States is preparing for a possible strike on Syria.
The missile cruiser, Moskva, will take over the navy’s operations in the region, a move which Russia says is needed to protect its national interests, state agency Interfax quoted a military source as saying on Wednesday.
“The Cruiser Moskva is heading to the Strait of Gibraltar. In approximately 10 days it will enter the East Mediterranean, where it will take over as the flagship of the naval task force,” said the unnamed military source.
The missile cruiser is to be joined by two other vessels, a destroyer from Russia’s Baltic Fleet and a frigate from the Black Sea Fleet, which are to arrive in the region until Friday.
Russia has recently deployed other warships to the Eastern Mediterranean. On September 1, Moscow sent its Priazovye reconnaissance ship to the region tasked with collecting information in the tense region, which will be operating separately from the naval unit.
Last week, Russian Defense Ministry reported that additional warships, including the Moskva, were being sent to the Mediterranean on routine mission…
US Polls: Public Opposes Syria Strike
Al Ahed news
Two new polls out Tuesday have found strong opposition to US military intervention in Syria among a war-weary American public.
A survey carried out by the Pew Research Center over the weekend found that 48 percent of Americans oppose “conducting military airstrikes” against Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons compared to 29 percent who support such action.
A Washington Post-ABC news poll found a similar margin, with nearly six in 10 Americans opposed to missile strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The polls found opposition across the political spectrum.
The Pew poll found that just 29 percent of Democrats support US airstrikes compared to 48 percent who are opposed.
Republicans are slightly more supportive of military action, with 35 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed, the Pew poll said.
The Post-ABC poll, however, found a nearly identical level of opposition among Democrats and Republicans, and Independents even more opposed to military action, with just 30 percent in favor and 66 percent opposed.
The Pew poll found that 74 percent of Americans believe a US strike would likely spark a backlash against Washington and its allies in the region, and 61 percent think it would lead to a long-term US military commitment there.
The low levels of support for military action could complicate US President Barack Obama’s efforts to rally congressional support for punitive strikes against Syria.
Obama won support Tuesday from key Republican leaders in the House, but faces an uphill battle convincing critics on the left and right to endorse another military campaign in the Middle East after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Pew poll was conducted August 29-September 1 among 1,000 respondents. The Post-ABC poll was carried out August 28-September 1 among 1,012 respondents and had a margin of error of 3.5 percent.