The Obama administration is right to be cautious about US intervention in Syria. For the US to launch a military strike without UN Security Council sanction would constitute an illegal 'act of war' against a sovereign state. (The Kosovo precedent cannot make an illegal act legal.)
Russia warns US and the West that military action in Syria would be 'illegal.' But a strike on Syria may also 'play into Moscow's hands,' says one expert.
In an interview, Hans Blix (chief UN arms inspector for Iraq from 2000-2003) says: If US military action in Syria is all about 'punishing' Bashar al-Assad to satisfy public and media opinion without even hearing the UN inspectors report, it will be a sad day for international legality.
The United Nations inspectors were heading to the site of last week's alleged chemical weapons attack when unidentified gunmen forced the convoy to retreat.
President Obama met with national security advisers Saturday to discuss US military options after the alleged chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus.
Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the reports are an effort to derail a planned peace conference led by Russia and the US.
Syrian opposition groups allege that the regime killed more than 1,300 people with the help of chemical weapons. The government denies the reports.
Calls are growing to route US humanitarian aid to Syria through opposition groups, using aid as a political tool to earn the US credit with the population. This would be ineffective and dangerous. Instead more must be done to ensure the safety and access of aid groups working in Syria.