From the World Jewish Congress:
The American Section of the World Jewish Congress deplored the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, condemning this heinous crime. Such brutality is not only immoral, it is deeply dangerous to an already unstable Middle East, to the United States and to our allies in the region. We call on the United States Congress to support a resolution that will authorize President Obama to take punitive action in response to the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.
The Syrian government must know that there are consequences to its rogue behavior and flouting of international norms with the use of chemical weapons. The message must be undeniably clear to Syria and other countries – the United States will stand by its principles, hold to its red lines, and hold to account those who possess, seek and use weapons of mass destruction.
We urge the United States Congress to protect the American interests by sending a strong bipartisan message in staunch support of America’s determination to prevent the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction.
As world leaders gather in St. Petersburg for the G20 summit, NGO alliance InterAction urges them to redouble diplomatic efforts on Syria and focus on responding to the dire humanitarian needs in the region, where the number of refugees eclipsed two million this week.
“The heavy toll of this two-year conflict on the Syrian people mounts every day,” said Samuel A. Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction. “While humanitarian organizations continue to provide life-saving assistance, more must be done to bring about a solution to end the conflict and to alleviate suffering. Amid the escalating conflict, it is the world’s responsibility to ensure civilians are protected as much as possible.”
The possibility of an external military intervention in Syria is looming over the summit. As an organization that focuses on international relief and development, InterAction does not take a position on whether the United States and other NATO powers should take military action. If the United States and its allies take action, however, it must comply fully with international humanitarian law, taking every possible precaution to minimize harm to civilians. Further, any possible action must consider potential disruption to humanitarian operations and ensure that agencies are able to maintain their presence and deliver life-saving assistance.
“We are concerned that an escalation of the war in Syria from any quarter will have negative humanitarian consequences. The war in Syria has already engulfed the entire country, trapping its population in daily exposure to violence, while refugee flows threaten to overwhelm its neighbors,” Worthington said. “Whatever action is taken should be part of a longer term solution that will end the suffering of the Syrian people.”
More than 100,000 people have been killed since the war broke out in March 2011, the UN said in July. Children make up about half of the 2 million refugees who have fled so far, with refugees leaving at a rate of nearly 5,000 people per day now, according to UNHCR. Within the country, 4.65 million Syrians are displaced, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The American Jewish Committee
AJC is calling on the U.S. Congress to support a resolution authorizing President Obama to respond forcefully to the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. Congress is expected to debate and vote on the measure next week.
AJC President Stanley Bergman and Executive Director David Harris, in a letter sent to all members of the Senate and House of Representatives today, expressed the global advocacy organization’s “support for the decision by President Obama to take limited military action against the Syrian regime in response to the overwhelming evidence of the regime’s use of chemical weapons targeted at Syrian civilians.”
AJC pointed out that the latest atrocity, committed on August 21 and resulting in the deaths of at least 1,400 people, “constituted a material breach of international norms, including the Geneva Protocol of 1925, prohibiting the use of chemical weapons.”
The Assad regime’s latest atrocity “also defied President Obama’s warning that the use of such weapons would cross a ‘red line’ – an act of defiance that, for reasons both profoundly moral and strategic, demands a decisive response,” AJC added.
The AJC leaders cautioned that “acquiescence in the face of the crimes evidently committed by the Assad regime would doubtless have wide-ranging consequences for U.S. interests and influence in the Middle East and around the world; invite further tests of American resolve and capacity to respond to declared threats; heighten instability in a volatile region; and amount to an abandonment of international responsibility to protect civilians from the use of weapons of mass destruction.”
AJC has monitored closely, and with increasing concern, the conflict in Syria, and its ramifications for Syria’s neighbors. The organization urged members of Congress to adopt a resolution that would “respond forcefully to the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. Such a resolution, we firmly believe, would uphold American principles and advance American interests in the Middle East and beyond.”
With 22 offices across the United States, AJC has a constituent base of over 175,000 individuals.
Congressman Chaka Fattah
“The decision ahead of Congress in response to allegations of the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons is a serious one, and one that rightfully deserves vigorous and thoughtful deliberation. With that in mind, I will withhold any judgment regarding use of military force in Syria until Congress undertakes a robust, informed debate on the authorizing resolution next week.
“The stakes are too high to rush to a conclusion about the appropriateness of military action without a full discussion on the House floor, informed by both the evidence that our own government has, and the forthcoming report of the United Nations inspectors.
“Further, I applaud the President’s decision to seek a Congressional vote on the matter, even though his authority to proceed absent Congressional approval is clear and with significant precedence.”
Saudi Arabia Cabinet
Saudi Arabia on Monday called for a strong and serious international stand to stop the massacre of people in Syria by Bashar Assad’s regime.
“The international community must assume its responsibilities by taking deterrent measures to put an end to violations and the crimes of genocide carried out by the Syrian regime over the past two years,” the Cabinet said.
“The Cabinet renewed the Kingdom’s position to stand wholeheartedly with the will of the Syrian people and their leadership represented by the national coalition,” said Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz Khojah.