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Old 04-11-2018, 12:30 PM
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Arrow Theresa May Ready To Join Syria Strike Without Seeking Parliamentary Approval

Theresa May Ready To Join Syria Strike Without Seeking Parliamentary Approval
By Tyler Durden - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 14:42

While a U.S. Carrier Strike Group makes its way to the Mediterranean, and amid reports of US and French fighter jets buzzing around the skies over Syria, the BBC reports that UK Prime Minister Theresa May is "ready to join military action against the Assad regime in Syria without first seeking Parliamentary consent."

The prime minister is said by government insiders to see the need for a response as urgent.

She wants to prevent a repeat of the apparent chemical attack near Damascus, which she described as "abhorrent". -BBC

Today's hawkish tone comes on the heels of a report that May told President Trump on Tuesday that Britain would require more evidence in last weekend's suspected chemical attack before committing to a military strike against Syria, reports The Times. Guess not?

Perhaps the notion of the UK "sitting this one out" didn't exactly play well with the rest of the coalition...

The prime minister rejected a swift retaliation as inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) prepared to visit the Damascus suburb where at least 40 people were reported to have been killed by chlorine gas on Saturday. -The Times

May chaired a meeting of the national security council in London this week, where she spoke with Presidents Trump and Macron for the first time since the Douma chemical attack. It is reported that Trump, who's had a remarkable change of heart on U.S. involvement in Syria since the election, did not ask the UK to join military strikes.

A No 10 read-out of her call with the US president stated that they agreed the international community “needed to respond” but stopped short of blaming the Syrian regime. “They agreed that reports of a chemical weapons attack in Syria were utterly reprehensible and if confirmed, represented further evidence of the Assad regime’s appalling cruelty against its own people and total disregard for its legal obligations not to use these weapons,” it said. -The Times

Recall just days ago President Trump saying that Syria would "pay a big price," and that the U.S. response would be decided by Wednesday. Trump reportedly canceled travel plans after reports emerged that Russian and Iranian involvement in Syria would complicate matters in the region. Theresa May, however, initially used very cautious language - noting that the UK would be working with allies to "make an assessment of what has happened," before the BBC reported that her tone changed dramatically overnight.

Mrs May had said earlier: “We’ll be working with our allies . . . crucially, to make an assessment of what has happened.” Her tone contrasted with some American rhetoric. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the US permanent representative to Nato, accused Assad of genocide and said a military response was appropriate. -The Times

UK Politicians are reportedly engaged in a fierce internal debate over the situation in Syria - with foreign secretary Boris Johnson arguing that the use of chemical weapons must not go unpunished, and that the UK should be part of the military response alongside the United States and France.

May, however, is said to have raised doubts over military action - pointing to last year's strikes following the Kahn Sheikhoun chemical attack.

With no plans to a recall parliament, Tory MPs said that Mrs May should not to take action without Commons approval. Julian Lewis, chairman of the defence select committee, said: “When our country comes under attack, the government may have to act first and seek parliament’s approval afterwards. But when we are contemplating military intervention in other people’s conflicts, parliament ought to be consulted first.” -The Times

That almost sounds like common sense... Perhaps something even candidate Trump might say!

Here's where things stand at present:

- March 22; H.R. McMaster is out as National Security Advisor. John Bolton is named as his replacement. Bolton's first day on the job was Monday.

- Also on Monday, and what a coincidence - Israel bombs Syria's T-4 airbase in response to last weekend's alleged chemical atack, killing 14 people. Here are official pictures from Iranian state television purporting to be the aftermath:


Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution for the OPCW to investigate the chemical attack. Recall that Russia was recently denied a request to join the OPCW's investigation into the poisoning of former double-agent Sergei Skripal.

Russia's UN envoy says the draft was designed to fail, which would thus "justify" unauthorized action in Syria.

Moscow denounced the vote as a trick to justify military intervention. “The authors are being driven by very different priorities. They never wanted the resolution to pass,” Vasily Nebenzya, the Russian ambassador, said. “They will use it to justify the use of force against Syria. If you decide to carry out an illegal military venture, and we hope you’ll come to your senses, you’ll have to bear responsibility for it yourself.” -The Times

As The Times notes, "Two Russian resolutions calling for investigation without apportioning blame were rejected by the council."

In response, British ambassador Karen Pierce said that "Russia's credibility as a member of the security council was now in question," while US ambassador Nikki Haley ruled out further negotiations over the investigation - saying the decision could not be delayed further.

Reply & Follow Up:

- Russia is jamming military signals for some US drones operating in the skies over Syria, according to NBC, which cited four military officials.

- Russian warships have left a Syrian port to conduct drills.

- A U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon "submarine killer" is flying off the Syrian coast

- Trump warns Russia that "missiles are coming" after the Kremlin vowed to shoot them down

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has outright said that the chemical attack was fabricated by the Syrian White Helmets, an NGO lauded by mainstream media for their humanitarian work, while long-suspected of performing less-than humanitarian deeds behind the curtain.

Speaking with EuroNews, Russia's ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizov, said "Russian military specialists have visited this region, walked on those streets, entered those houses, talked to local doctors and visited the only functioning hospital in Douma, including its basement where reportedly the mountains of corpses pile up. There was not a single corpse and even not a single person who came in for treatment after the attack."

While Russia is obviously far from unbiased when it comes to the investigation - so are reports coming exclusively from anti-Assad groups "on the ground." At minimum, perhaps we should put the brakes on things until the chemical attack is sorted out. After all, one can't exactly claim there is zero precedent for heightened scrutiny when faced with the potential steamrolling of yet another enemy of the West based on flimsy evidence.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Old 04-11-2018, 12:33 PM
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Arrow Trump and allies mull possible joint response in Syria

Trump and allies mull possible joint response in Syria
By: Robert Burns and Josh Lederman, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials consulted with global allies Tuesday on a possible joint military response to Syria’s alleged poison gas attack, as President Donald Trump canceled a foreign trip in order to manage a crisis that is testing his vow to stand up to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Trump spoke with other world leaders, and other U.S. officials said the U.S., France and Britain were in extensive consultations about launching a military strike as early as the end of this week. None of the three countries’ leaders had made a firm decision, according to the officials, who were not authorized to discuss military planning by name.

A joint military operation, possibly with France rather than the U.S. in the lead, could send a message of international unity about enforcing the prohibitions on chemical weapons and counter Syria’s political and military support from Russia and Iran.

President Emmanuel Macron said France, the U.S. and Britain will decide how to respond in the coming days. He called for a “strong and joint response” to the attack in the Syrian town of Douma on Saturday, which Syrian activists and rescuers say killed 40 people. The Syrian government denies responsibility.

The French president does not need parliamentary permission to launch a military operation. France is already involved in the U.S.-led coalition created in 2014 to fight the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. Multiple ISIS attacks have targeted French soil, including one last month.

Trump suggested Monday he had little doubt that Syrian government forces were to blame for what he said was a chemical attack, but neither he nor other administration officials have produced hard evidence. Officials suggested such evidence was lacking, or at least not yet at hand. This is in contrast to an incident one year ago in which U.S. intelligence agencies had video and other evidence of certain aspects of the actual attack, which involved the use of Sarin gas. Trump responded by launching Navy cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield.

One official said the U.S., France and Britain were considering military options that would be more extensive than the punitive, one-day strike last April. That strike did not appear to have had the desired effect of deterring Assad from further use of chemical agents. So the three countries are discussing a range of options, including preventing Assad from conducting future attacks by striking military capabilities involved in carrying out such attack, the official said.

Asked whether France would take military action, Macron said his country will continue discussing technical and strategic information with U.S. and British allies and “in the coming days we will announce our decision.” He said any action would “target chemical weapons” stocks. Under a 2013 agreement for which Russia was a guarantor, Syria was to have eliminated all its chemical weapons, but it has used chlorine and perhaps other chemicals since then.

Trump spoke by phone with British Prime Minister Theresa May. A British government statement said the two agreed the attack in Syria was “utterly reprehensible” and that the international community must respond “to uphold the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.” Trump met at the White House with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who told reporters that he and Trump “see eye to eye” on the Syria problem.

“We cannot tolerate with a war criminal,” the emir said, adding, “This matter should end immediately.” Qatar hosts the United States’ main air operations center for the Middle East, which would coordinate any American air attack in Syria.

A watchdog agency, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, announced that it will send “shortly” a fact-finding mission to Douma, after receiving a request from the Syrian government and its Russian backers to investigate the allegations. It was not immediately clear whether that visit would delay or avert U.S. or allied military action.

The Russian military, which has troops in Syria, said on Monday that its officers had visited the site of the alleged attack and found no evidence to back up reports of poison gas being used.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis canceled plans to travel to California this week, indicating his focus on Syria. He was expected at a White House meeting Wednesday for further consultations on Syria.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump will not attend the 8th Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, or travel to Bogota, Colombia, as planned. She said he will stay home to “oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world.”

The president’s new national security adviser, John Bolton, urged Trump to skip the trip, an official said. This reflects a view in the White House that deeper Russian and Iranian involvement in Syria have complicated calculations about a response to any U.S. military attack, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Moscow has cautioned the U.S. not to launch a military attack.

Amid the tough talk from the White House, the U.S. military appeared to be in position to carry out any attack order. A Navy destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, got underway in the eastern Mediterranean on Monday after completing a port call in Cyprus. The guided missile destroyer is armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, the weapon of choice in a U.S. attack one year ago on an airfield in Syria following an alleged sarin gas attack on civilians.

Also, the Navy said the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier and its strike group will depart Norfolk, Virginia, on Wednesday for a regularly scheduled deployment to Europe. The Navy does not currently have a carrier in the Persian Gulf.

Associated Press writers Angela Charlton in Paris, Edith M. Lederer in New York and Jill Colvin, Ken Thomas, Catherine Lucey and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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