EU parliament casts doubt on Syria strike

EU parliament casts doubt on Syria strike
Tue Sep 3, 2013 21:10:00

The head of the European Parliament's defense committee cast doubt Tuesday on the utility of "punitive strikes" on Syria and insisted that the options for an eventual diplomatic solution are "more open" than people think.

French conservative lawmaker Arnaud Danjean said that intelligence produced by the Socialist government in Paris was not conclusive.

"Questions remain as to the precise nature of the products used and over 'who decided what'," he told reporters in Brussels.

Chemical weapons could have been used in Syria by "autonomous" forces seeking to "pin blame" on Syrian President Bashar Assad, he said.

"There remains much speculation and many questions need to be answered," he added.

The United States and France are leading a push for military strikes against Syrian government in response to an unverified allegation concerning the use of chemical weapons in Damascus suburbs.

US President Barack Obama has said he is confident he will win "prompt" Senate and House votes authorizing military action shortly and French President Francois Hollande has described the attack as a threat to security at "global level."

But Danjean said the use of punitive strikes by Western powers "does not strike me as a particularly pertinent solution."

"We will hit Assad for a few hours -- but if he comes back with a massacre the next day using conventional weapons, what will we do then?"

He said military action on the Afghanistan hideouts of Osama bin Laden in 1998 did not prevent the 9/11 attacks, and strikes against Bosnian Serbs in Sarajevo in 1995 failed to prevent the Srebrenica massacre.

Action against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein did not prevent the plight of civilians there from worsening either, he said.

"Such limited strikes have no impact beyond giving (the West) confidence by saying 'at least we have done something'," Danjean said.

He argued too that the diplomatic context was not as bad as some believe.


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