Syrian civil war may drag beyond 2017 – Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. President Barack Obama (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

US President Barack Obama doesn’t see the civil war in Syria ending anytime soon, stating on Friday that it may continue even after he leaves office in 2017. He also objected to the idea that the situation could be resolved by American interference.

The comments were made
during an interview with the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news network,
which touched on several issues related to the Middle East. When
asked if he sees the ongoing conflict in Syria – which began in
2011 – coming to a close by the time he’s out of the White House,
Obama said it is unlikely.

“I’ll be honest, probably not,” he said, as quoted by
CNN. Obama added that the state of affairs in Syria is
“heartbreaking” but “extremely complex.”

READ MORE: US will stand with the Gulf States
against ‘external attacks’ – Obama

Obama was also asked if his administration’s response to the
crisis in Syria could ultimately be equated with the US response
to the Rwandan genocide under President Bill Clinton. In 1994,
genocide erupted in Rwanda, but the Clinton White House and other
international actors failed to prevent it through inactivity.

In this case, Obama rejected the question, arguing Syria’s civil
war could not be solved by the US alone.

“You have a civil war in a country that arises out of a long
standing grievance: It was not something triggered by the United
States, it was not something that could have been stopped by the
United States,”
Obama said, according to Reuters.

The president went on to say that the US can help nations address
their problems but that it can’t solve them unilaterally.

“One of the things that I said in the summit… is all too
often in the Middle East region, people attribute everything to
the United States,”
Obama said. “The United States
ultimately can only work through Arab countries who are also
working on their own behalf to deal with these issues.”

Back in 2013, Obama threatened to use force against Syria over
sarin gas attacks that were used against rebel-held area in
Damascus, which killed hundreds of people. The Syrian government
denied doing so, and the White House rescinded the threat after
Syria agreed to get rid of its chemical weapons supply.

Earlier this month, though, Reuters reported that international
inspectors said they found traces of chemical weapons that were
undeclared by the Syrian government.

Meanwhile, recent reports have stated that chlorine gas has been
used in attacks against Syrian rebels, though the central
government has not allowed inspectors to examine the alleged
sites. Chlorine is not categorized as a chemical weapon, but
Obama said Thursday that the international community could work
to ban its use.

“If we have the kinds of confirmation that we need, we will
once again work with the international community and the
organization charged with monitoring compliance by the Syrian
government, and we will reach out to patrons of Assad like Russia
to put a stop to it,”
Obama said.

“We’re working with the international community to
investigate that.”

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