The USA, backed by Turkey is preparing for some kind of military strike against Syria. This is despite the G-20 summit which was held over the last two days in St Petersburg, being divided on the matter of military intervention in Syria,
The US is, apparently, willing to act alone against mounting opposition from its own citizens and the UN Security Council which includes China and the Syrian regime’s staunch ally, Russia.
Anticipating further conflict, the United States evacuated non-essential staff from its Beirut embassy on Sept 6 and warned Americans against travelling to Lebanon, Pakistan or southern Turkey, as the US government considers strikes against neighbouring Syria.
“The Department of State has ordered a draw down of non-emergency U.S. government personnel and family members in Beirut, Lebanon and approved the draw down of non-emergency personnel and family members who wish to leave Adana, Turkey,” deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
The evacuations came as the United States has been trying to muster support for U.S. military strikes on President Assad’s regime in Syria, in retaliation for its alleged use of chemical weapons in an August 21 attack on Damascus suburbs.
Harf warned any U.S. citizens who chose to remain in Lebanon or southern Turkey that they “should limit non-essential travel within the country, be aware of their surroundings whether in their residences or moving about, make their own contingency emergency plans.” Separately, the State Department said the consulate general in Adana, “has been authorized to draw down its non-emergency staff and family members because of threats against US government facilities and personnel.”
Incirlik NATO air force base lies close to Adana, a largely agricultural region in southern Turkey. The base is a likely hub for the United States during an eventual military operation against Syria.
However, Harf said she was not aware of “any specific threats” against the mission in Turkey.
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan had said that Syrian opposition militants were awaiting air support from “allies.”
“Leaders have carefully watched the massacre the Syrian regime carried out on its people, and they accept the extreme necessity of an operation against Syria,” Erdogan told reporters after the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg. “They asked ‘what will happen when al-Assad falls?’ What can be crueler than the leader who bombs his own people? An administration that was elected by the will of the people will not be bad as this one is,” Erdogan said, apparently referring to world powers’ concerns about jihadists fighting in the country.
“At the moment, there is no such thing as a decision for a joint operation but it can be done with a coalition composed of countries. It could be three countries, five countries. What will be the strategy of such an operation, what will be the tactics – those are separate issues,” Erdogan said, adding that rebels were urgently seeking air support from outsiders. “There is no problem on land. The rebels’ biggest expectation is air support. If this is given, they would advance at a quicker pace.”
U.S. President Barack Obama said he would address the nation about Syria on Sept. 10 as he seeks public and congressional authority for military action against the Syrian government.
Failing to answer chemical weapons use would “send a signal to rogue nations,” he said in reference to Damascus’ alleged use of sarin gas on Aug. 21. Obama, however, refused to say what he would do if Congress does not approve Syria strikes.
The United States has lost its hope for a negotiated solution to the crisis with Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sept. 6 that he held talks on Syria with Obama on the sidelines of the G-20 summit but confirmed the meeting did not end their differences on the conflict.
“We spoke sitting down … it was a constructive, meaningful, cordial conversation. Each of us kept his own opinion,” Putin told reporters. On the same day, a White House official said Russia had nothing to add to the political debate on Syria in the U.S.
“I don’t know that the Russians have anything to add to the debate in the United States, given that we know where Russia stands on this issue,” said Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.
“They’ve continually supported [President Bashar] al-Assad no matter what the facts show, and no matter what the regime does. So again, on the issue of chemical weapons, we don’t expect to have Russian cooperation,” he said.
A day before, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said the U.S. had given up trying to work with the U.N. Security Council on Syria, accusing Russia of holding the council hostage and allowing Moscow’s allies in Syria to deploy poison gas against innocent children.
“In the wake of the flagrant shattering of the international norm against chemical weapons use, Russia continues to hold the council hostage and shirk its international responsibilities, including as a party to the chemical weapons convention,” Power said.
“Our considered view, after months of efforts on chemical weapons and after 2.5 years of efforts on Geneva [peace talks] … is that there is no viable path forward in this Security Council,” she added.
Anticipating hostile action, Russia, which is steadfastly against any military action on Syria, evacuated its 89 Russian nationals from Syria some ten days ago.
A Russian Ministry spokesperson, Irina Rossius stated that a Russian plane had delivered 30 tons of humanitarian aid to the Syrian city of Latakia and returned with its Russian nationals.
She said that the evacuation had been required because of anticipated external military intervention in Syria.