Going to Congress not an American retreat: John Kerry

Last Updated: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 21:11

Washington: President Barack Obama`s decision to seek a Congressional nod for a military strike on Syria is not an American retreat as being described by the Syrian regime, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday.

"I don`t believe so at all," Kerry told the Fox News Sunday in an interview when asked to comment on the Syrian media statement that seeking congressional authorisation for military action against Syria is "the start of the historic American retreat".

"That is in the hands of the Congress of the United States. The president has made his decision. The President wants to stand up and make certain that we uphold the international norm, that we do not grant impunity to a ruthless dictator to gas his own people," he said in response to a question.

"Anybody who saw those images, anybody who know focuses on the evidence that I just gave you about signatures of sarin in the hair and blood samples of the first responders -- I mean, first responders died. People who went to help the people who were hurt, died in this case," he said.

Alleging that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a man who has committed a crime against humanity, Kerry expressed confidence that the Congress will give its authorisation to Obama as America`s credibility is at stake.
"I can`t imagine that the Congress of the United States will not recognise our interests with respect to Iran, Israel, Jordan, Turkey, our friends in the region, the Syrian people, the opposition," Kerry said.
"America`s credibility is on the line here, and I expect the Congress of the United States to do what is right and to stand up and be counted, and I think that the Assad regime needs to recognise that they have refocused the energy of the American people on him, on his regime, on his lack of legitimacy to govern, and on the ways we will support the opposition in order to see that the people of Syria can choose their future in an appropriate way," Kerry said.

"We have confidence. There are good people in the Congress of the United States. I know it`s been difficult, but this is a matter of national security, it`s a matter of the credibility of the United States of America.

"It`s a matter of upholding the interests of our allies and friends in the region; Jordan, which is threatened by what is happening, Israel, Turkey, Lebanon, all of which, as I said the other day, are just a stiff breeze away from chemical weapons being used," he told the CNN in another interview.

Kerry justified Obama`s decision to take Congressional approval even it means giving the Assad regime more time.

"Sometimes the wheels of democracy require us to take an extra day or two to provide the legitimacy that our founding fathers contemplated in actions that we take," he said.

"And I talked yesterday with the President of the Syrian opposition. I believe he understands that America intends to act, that we are going to continue to support the opposition, that we may even, as a result of this, be able to provide greater support to the opposition and do a better job of helping the opposition to be able to continue to fight against the Assad regime," he said in response to a question.

The US has "a coalition of more than a few" on its decision of a military strike against the Assad regime, Kerry said adding that more and more countries would be able to join his country as the evidences of use of chemical weapons comes out.

"I think we have a coalition of more than a few, but this is a situation that is going to grow as the evidence comes out," Kerry said.

"I`ve talked with a number of nations who have offered to be helpful; no decisions have been made about what shape that will take. But I believe that there are many," Kerry said as he listed out a number of international organisations and countries as part of America`s effort to galvanize international support.

"The Arab League has already spoken out. Voices as far away as Japan, New Zealand, Australia, other places have spoken out. I think the world takes enormous affront at this incredible abuse of power, this, you know, this attack on decency and incredible crime against humanity. I think voices will grow over the next days as people see the evidence. And that evidence is becoming more powerful every day," Kerry said.

Over the past week, Kerry has spent hours in ringing up the world leaders across the world mostly his counterparts in the region and key allies and seeking their support of the US action.

However, Kerry indicated that the US will not wait for an approval of the UN Security Council or the conclusion of the UN inspectors investigation into the Syria attack.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 21:07

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