WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) – President Barack Obama, in a planned address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday morning, said that the “peace process is stillborn” in regards to resolving civil war currently plaguing Syria.
Obama added that America is “prepared to use all elements of our power … to secure our core interests in the region” before stating that the United States will provide an additional $340 million to aid Syrians affected by their country’s war.
“There is no great gain to be won, nor does the United States have any interest in Syria beyond the well-being of its people, the stability of its neighbors, the elimination of chemical weapons, and ensuring that it doesn’t become a safe haven for terrorists,” he added.
Obama also remarked that the U.S. is “chastised for meddling in the region … [yet] at the same time blamed for failing to do enough to solve the region’s problems,” and said that the double standard has residual, negative effects on the potential support offered by the American populace.
U.S. and Russian officials had recently reached an agreement to inventory Syria’s chemical weapons programs within a week and remove all of them by the middle of next year. During the speech, Obama referenced the agreement, noting that “if we cannot agree even on this, it will show that the UN is incapable of enforcing even the most basic of international laws.”
High on Obama’s agenda at the U.N. was rallying Security Council support for a resolution that would establish consequences for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime if it failed to adhere to that plan.
Under the agreement, inspectors are to be in Syria by November and all components of the chemical weapons program are to be removed from the country or destroyed by the middle of next year. The U.S. wants the Security Council to approve a resolution making the U.S.-Russian agreement legally binding in a way that is verifiable and enforceable.
International debate has waged for weeks regarding whether the United States should ultimately carry out a military strike in retaliation for a chemical attack that the U.S. says killed 1,400 people. U.S. officials have stated that evidence shows Assad’s regime to be responsible for the attack. The deal, if adhered to, would stave off such an attack.
Obama mentioned speculation regarding the validity of accusations against Assad’s administration, adding that “[i]t’s an insult to human reason … to suggest anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.”
“There, peaceful protests against [Assad's regime] were met with repression and slaughter … [and] the situation spiraled into civil war,” he stated. “The international community recognized the stakes early on … [but] the response has not met the scale of the challenge.”
At the beginning of his speech, Obama spoke of the stabilization of the international economy and the ending of several wars, including the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
“Like every generation of leaders, we face new and profound challenges. [T]his body continues to be tested,” he added, before later asserting that ”the world is more stable than it was five years ago.”
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