WASHINGTON (TIP): US president Obama and his administration will have to go against the weight of American public skepticism and legislative resistance to meet their professed goal of punishing Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons in contravention of global rules. Although the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday approved conditional strikes against Syria by a 10-7 margin, opposition to military involvement is high among members of the House of Representatives, considered closer to ground sentiment. Polls show Americans are massively opposed to getting into what is increasingly seen as a Shia-Sunni spat that has little bearing on American interests, aside from asserting broader principles of international accountability vis-a-vis chemical weapons.
In a reminder of the possible folly of getting into the middleeast snake-pit, one US lawmaker went so far as to say American strikes in Syria would turn the US military into “al-Qaida’s air force”— a reference to the Sunni-dominated rebels who would benefit from the US attack. “We certainly don’t have a dog in the fight,” said Ted Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas. “We should be focused on defending the United States of America. That’s why young men and women sign up to join the military, not to, as you know, serve as al-Qaida’s air force.” The comment drew a sharp rejoinder from the hawks itching for air strikes, but already, there is deep skepticism about the veracity of the administration’s accounts that the Assad regime used chemical weapons. Those opposed to involvement are mocking the administration for depending on dubious youtube videos and plants by opponents of the Syrian regime.? On septembr 5, sections of the US media also began focusing on Syrian rebel fighters, some of who were shown in a New York Times story as brutal extremists who executed government soldiers. Other reports have suggested that the rebels are being funded by a Saudi regime in order to extend Sunni influence to make up for the loss of sway in Iraq.