Earlier this week President Obama asked congressional leaders to postpone a vote on legislation that would authorize the use of force against Syria.
“We will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons and to ultimately destroy them under international control,” the president said in a televised address to the nation Tuesday night.
Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and the author of the influential and widely-read blog Syria Comment, says the new diplomatic development is a victory for Moscow.
“Here was a situation where the United States was about to unilaterally strike at one of their chief allies in the Middle East,” Landis says. “All of a sudden, Russia is back in the game. America hasn't struck, and everybody's looking to Moscow for a solution.”
Landis says the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups had been hoping Washington would finally commit to military action and join the fight to take down President Bashar al-Assad. But now, Assad has a seat at the negotiating table talking to America as a partner.
“This legitimizes him, and he's going to drag and wait and use Russia,” Landis says. “And even if Russia can get him to give up the chemical weapons, he's in a position to trade for more conventional weapons. So it makes America look very weak.”
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