Obama says strug­gling over whether to in­ter­vene in Syria

The Kurdish Globe - - REGIONAL -

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said he has been wrestling with the ques­tion whether a U.S. mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion in Syria's 22-month-old civil war would help re­solve the bloody con­flict or make things worse.

In a pair of in­ter­views, Obama re­sponded to crit­ics who say the United States has not been in­volved enough in Syria, where thou­sands of peo­ple have been killed and mil­lions dis­placed ac­cord­ing to U.N. of­fi­cials. Tran­scripts of both in­ter­views were re­leased on Sun­day.

The United States has called on Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar alAs­sad to step down, and has rec­og­nized an op­po­si­tion coali­tion - but has stopped short of au­tho­riz­ing U.S. arm­ing of rebels to over­throw As­sad.

"In a sit­u­a­tion like Syria, I have to ask: can we make a dif­fer­ence in that sit­u­a­tion?" Obama said in an in­ter­view with The New Repub­lic pub­lished on the mag­a­zine's web­site.

Obama said he has to weigh the ben­e­fit of a mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion with the abil­ity of the Pen­tagon to sup­port troops still in Afghanistan, where the United States is with­draw­ing com­bat forces af­ter a dozen years of war.

"Could it trig­ger even worse vi­o­lence or the use of chem­i­cal weapons? What of­fers the best prospect of a sta­ble post-As­sad regime?

"And how do I weigh tens of thou­sands who've been killed in Syria ver­sus the tens of thou­sands who are cur­rently be­ing killed in the Congo?" he said.

Obama's com­ments come as world lead­ers gath­ered in Davos, Switzer­land, said they wished the United States were more en­gaged in geopo­lit­i­cal is­sues such as the con­flicts in Syria and Mali, where France is at­tack­ing al Qaeda-af­fil­i­ated mil­i­tants.

De­fense Sec­re­tary Leon Panetta said on Satur­day that the United States will fly tankers to re­fuel French jet fight­ers, ex­pand­ing U.S. involvement, which had been lim­ited to shar­ing in­tel­li­gence and pro­vid­ing air­lift sup­port.

In an in­ter­view with CBS tele­vi­sion pro­gram "60 Min­utes," Obama bris­tled when asked to re­spond to crit­i­cism that the United States has been re­luc­tant to en­gage in for­eign pol­icy is­sues like the Syr­ian cri­sis.

Obama said his ad­min­is­tra­tion put U.S. war­planes into the in­ter­na­tional ef­fort to oust Muam­mar Gaddafi in Libya, and led a push to force Egyp­tian Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak from of­fice.

But in Syria, his ad­min­is­tra­tion wants to make sure U.S. ac­tion would not back­fire, he said.

"We do no­body a ser­vice when we leap be­fore we look, where we ... take on things with­out hav­ing thought through all the con­se­quences of it," Obama told CBS.

"We are not go­ing to be able to con­trol ev­ery as­pect of ev­ery tran­si­tion and trans­for­ma­tion" in con­flicts around the world, he said. "Some­times they're go­ing to go side­ways."

U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama speaks in the State Din­ing Room of the White House in Washington, Jan­uary 24, 2013.

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