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Closer to confrontation with Syria

Updated: Saturday, September 7 2013, 11:29 AM EDT
SCHENECTADY --  Moving closer to a confrontation.  The Obama administration is making its case to Congress that our country should take military action against Syria.

The White House maintains that Syrian forces killed hundreds of civilians using toxic chemicals last week.  The administration also alleges Syrian president Bashar Assad was behind the massacre.

But if the US takes action, it may have to do so without the help of British allies.  Prime Minister David Cameron says his country is waiting for the UN's report with evidence of an actual chemical assault.

Closer to home, we learn that there is a great deal at stake should the US attack Syria.

A local woman familiar with Middle Eastern politics encourages the US to use caution in deciding whether or not to strike Syria, because an attack against one country could include a response from more than one.

"The list starts with Russia and China," said Union College political science professor Michele Angrist.

That list includes the countries who may wish to retaliate against the United States if it launches an attack on Syria.  Angrist says our relationships with those two countries could be strained. 

Then, there's Iran.  "The Iranians have threatened that there would be consequence," Angrist said.  "Iranian Naval vessels can cause trouble in the Persian Gulf and complicate the movement of oil out of the region in to the global market."

Angrist also fears US intervention can also encourage Hezbollah to attack Israel.  But, she believes any attack would likely happen overseas.

"I don't think Iranian fallout would happen on US soil," Angrist said.  "The much more likely scenario would be regional destabilization."

US officials or interests in the region then could be at risk.  But this is a volatile time in the Middle East.  Countless innocent lives have been caught in Syria's conflict, including those killed in a suspected chemical attack.  The US should be cautious, Angirst suggests, and recalls a thought shared by those familiar with the culture and politics in the Middle East.

"They would say, 'you don't know what kind of uncertainty, what kind kind of Pandora's Box may be opening by launching cruise missiles in to a very destabilized region,'" she said.
A fifth US destroyer ship is headed to the Mediterranean Sea right now.  Still, the pace has slowed in talks to attack Syria, Angrist says.

Analysts initially believed some action might be taken Thursday.Closer to confrontation with Syria

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The Syrian civil war, (also known as the Syrian uprising or Syrian crisis) is an ongoing armed conflict in Syria between forces loyal to the Ba'ath government and those seeking to oust it. A part of the larger Middle Eastern protest movement known as the Arab Spring, the conflict began March 15th, 2011 with local demonstrations that grew in scope to become nationwide by April 2011.

Protesters demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has held the presidency in Syria since 1971, as well as the end of Ba'ath Party rule, which began in 1963.

The Syrian Army was deployed in April of 2011 to stop the uprising, and soldiers fired on demonstrators across the country. After months of cities and neighborhoods being cut-off by the Army the protests evolved into an armed rebellion.

The Arab League, United States, European Union, and other countries condemned the use of violence against the protesters. The Arab League suspended Syria's membership as a result of the government's response to the crisis, but granted the Syrian National Coalition, a coalition of Syrian political opposition groups, Syria's seat on 6 March 2013.

According to the UN, about 4 million Syrians have been displaced within the country and 2 million have fled to other countries.

Syrian government supporters include Russia and Iran, while Qatar and Saudi Arabia are providing material and weapons to the rebels.


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