Strike against Syria on Hold, Obama Asks Congess for OK
The military strike against Syria has been postponed after US President Barack Obama announced Saturday he was going to seek approval from the Congress first.
Obama called the reported chemical use against civilians in Syria the worst in the 21st century, but decided to seek the backing of US lawmakers before attacking, as polls showed strong opposition from Americans already weary of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"After careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets. This would not be an open-ended intervention. We would not put boots on the ground. Instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope. This attack is an assault on human dignity. It also presents a serious danger to our national security," Obama said of the alleged Aug. 21 chemical assault the US intelligence community has linked to President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
The President's senior advisers had initially advised him not to seek congressional authorization for a military strike, according to a senior administration official, cited by US Today.
Obama indicated last Saturday during a National Security Council meeting that he was leaning toward taking action against Syria, but had not made a final decision, has said the official, who asked not to be identified to discuss internal deliberations.
But when Obama convened his senior advisers on Friday night to tell them he had decided to take military action, he also announced before them that he would seek Congressional authorization, the official said.
Backing from Congress is by no means assured, with many Democrats and Republicans uneasy about intervening again in a distant civil war.
Even without Congressional approval, US President can still order a strike.
“I am prepared to give that order. But having made my decision as commander in chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests, I’m also mindful that I’m the president of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy,” Obama said in a hurriedly organized appearance in the Rose Garden as American destroyers armed with Tomahawk missiles waited in the Mediterranean Sea.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was unable to persuade the British Parliament to back action earlier in the week, welcomed Obama's decision, as did the government of French President Francois Hollande, with whom Obama spoke on Saturday.
Hollande is firm France will join a military intervention in Syria, but pressure is mounting to have the move voted by the country's lawmakers.