by Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

September 5, 2013 

NEW YORK–As President Obama’s call for a strike in Syria moved one step closer after the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted in favor of authorizing the President to launch the attack, he met with leaders from France, China and Japan on the sidelines of the G-20 global economy summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Obama’s sales pitch to secure international backing for the strike: It’s a moral thing to do after the world has set a red line against chemical weapons use. That exactly what he proposes to apply to Syria. “I also look forward to having an extensive conversation about the situation in Syria and I think our joint recognition that the use of chemical weapons in Syria is not only a tragedy but also a violation of international law that must be addressed,” said Obama.
But convincing these leaders may not be that easy – some world leaders already took the summit to stump against the strike in Syria.
European Council President Herman van Rompuy said that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that only a political solution can end the bloodshed, grave violations of human rights and destruction in Syria.
In a letter to the G-20 host, Pope Francis urged Russian President Vladimir Putin for a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis – through dialogue and negotiations that is supported by the international community.
Meantime, President Francois Hollande will make his decision after the US congress votes on the proposed strike.
An Obama advisor says the President will likely talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin during summit meetings.
Russia is a long time ally to Syria but Putin said on Wednesday that he does not exclude supporting a UN-backed military action to punish Syria, if there is proof beyond doubt that Syria’s government was behind the chemical weapons attack that killed more than 1400 people in Damascus.
But political analyst Ramon Mappala doubts that Putin, who has a big economic stake in Syria, has any intentions to go against its ally. “The relationship with his dad, the former President Assad was established with Russia for 40 years and their support, they’re given port facilities, yung mga merchant Marine vessels nila and almost all of their military hardware were bought from Russia,” Mappala explained.
The Great Britain, usually America’s dependable ally, already voted against taking any military action in Syria.
Mappala says without a US led coalition against Syria, going alone in the strike could be a big burden military-wise and financially for America.
“We should always reach out to other country,” Mappala said, “So personally I think we should still use diplomatic channels.”
“I think whether we like it or not, people look at the US as that Superpower so I think it’s out there that the US may have to do something, whether we like it or not it has become a responsibility,” Sunnyside resident Ged Merino said.

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