WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama has come under attack in recent days for failing to take a tough stance on the Syrian regime's violent crackdown on anti-government protesters, as he did in Libya.
US senators, lead by Lindsey Graham, are urging the president to put military force on the table as Damascus launches an all-out assault on protesters.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday that the difference in approach is connected to the international response to the two crises. Carney cited the absence of a United Nations resolution and an international coalition to enforce it as the reason why no diplomatic action has been taken to stop Syrian President Bashar Assad's assault on civilians.
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"There are different circumstances," Carney told reporters. "We had a United Nations mandate (with Libya). We had a broad coalition that was eager to participate in a mission that was designed to prevent the immediate carnage that would have taken place in Benghazi, to protect civilians from the grave danger presented by Gaddafi's forces, to enforce an arms embargo and to enforce a no-fly zone."
Meanwhile, Carney noted, Obama has been calling on Assad to "cease the violence" and condemning Assad's actions "in the strongest possible terms."
New Mideast reality
By blaming the lack of action on international disunity, the Obama Administration is indirectly pointing the accusing finger at the members of the UN who have refused to condemn Assad's brutal repression of protesters. The UK, France and other European nations have been pushing for a UN Security Council resolution that denounces Assad's actions, but Russian and China have expressed opposition – a move suggesting they might veto the decision if it is put up to a vote.
The West has been joined by Israel recently in condemning Assad. "We see the Middle East changing before our eyes, and the Syrian president does not know what Syria will look like tomorrow," IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said on Monday during an event at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.
"The State of Israel and the IDF will have to adapt to this new reality," Gantz added. "As an army, we must be prepared for every challenge… We are facing a reality where our units will have to prove their abilities."
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