President Barack Obama intensified his campaign to persuade a reluctant American public to back military action against Syria as Bashar al-Assad threatened retaliation "direct and indirect" if the U.S. attacks.
With U.S. lawmakers expressing skepticism about the stakes involved in Syria and the public increasingly opposed, the fight to win congressional authorization for a military strike risks undermining Obama's domestic agenda and weakening his clout internationally during his final three years in office.
And on Russia:
The Russian government, which has been using its United Nations Security Council veto to shield Assad from international censure and has supplied his regime with weapons, called on Syria to give up its chemical weapons stockpile to stave off a U.S. attack.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke following comments by Kerry that suggested the U.S. may call off a military strike if Syria handed over its chemical weapons within a week. Kerry added that Assad "isn't about to do it," and State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said afterward that the secretary of state was making a "rhetorical argument."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he may ask the Security Council to demand Syria immediately take steps to destroy its chemical weapons.
While Obama and his aides argue the president has the authority to act without congressional approval, such action would isolate him domestically and could prompt a backlash from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
"The reality is, I think it's very hard for him to act if Congress votes it down," former White House senior adviser David Axelrod said on NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday.
David Fuller's view Stock markets appear to be voting that the
chance of US cruise missile strikes against Assad's military supplies anytime
this week are decreasing. The Bloomberg article above contains a graphic of
congressional support, or the lack of it, under the headline: "Obama
Far From Approval on Syria Vote".
Moreover, Vladimir Putin who may have supplied chemical weapons for Assad is offering to be the peace broker by taking them back. The UN is unlikely to go further than its Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's statement above 'that he may ask the Security Council to demand Syria immediately take steps to destroy its chemical weapons.' That could be meaningless since both Russia and China have veto power on the Security Council.
Meanwhile, it remains highly likely that Obama's strike against Syria, if it is going to occur, would roil markets while it persisted. Thereafter, assuming that it did not trigger widespread turmoil in the Middle East (hopefully a strictly minority risk) most stock markets could recover quickly. The good news is that despite QE tapering and some high valuations, prospects for 2014 have improved due to evidence of economic recovery, not least in the USA, China and Japan.
Here is a related article from the BBC, which also contains an analysis by Jim Muir: Give up weapons, Russia urges Syria.