Headlines » Middle East http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines The latest Headlines, news and blog posts from ABC News contributors and bloggers. Tue, 21 Oct 2014 22:32:51 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Amnesty Int’l Challenges Obama to Bring Female Driver to Saudi Arabia http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/03/amnesty-intl-challenges-obama-to-bring-female-driver-to-saudi-arabia/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/03/amnesty-intl-challenges-obama-to-bring-female-driver-to-saudi-arabia/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 22:40:27 +0000 Molly Hunter http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=515200 AP saudi women drivers jef 140327 16x9 608 Amnesty Intl Challenges Obama to Bring Female Driver to Saudi Arabia

                             (Photo Credit: AP Photo)

Saudi women activists are hopping behind the wheel again, with the #Women2Drive campaign gearing up for President Obama’s weekend visit to Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving and 70 members of the U.S. Congress penned a letter to Obama this week urging him to raise critical human rights cases with King Abdullah.

Amnesty International also weighed in, urging the president to bring along a female Secret Service agent as his driver while in the Kingdom.


“President Obama should show his support by bringing a female Secret Service driver with him to the country,” said Sunjeev Bery, the group’s Middle East North Africa advocacy director.

Regardless of who’s driving the president, there will be plenty of women on the road during his visit. At least 100 women have defied the law and driven in Saudi Arabia Since Oct. 26, 2013, according to campaign organizers.

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Turks Tease Erodgan For ‘Helium’ Voice http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/03/turks-tease-erodgan-for-helium-voice/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/03/turks-tease-erodgan-for-helium-voice/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 19:30:53 +0000 Molly Hunter http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=515187 At a campaign rally in Van, Turkey today, Prime Minister Erdogan’s voice turned unusually squeaky.

And it didn’t go unnoticed.

Usually low and measured, the prime minister’s voice sounded high-pitched, almost as if he gulped down some helium before the speech.

İnanmayacaksınız ama Erdoğan konuşuyor by cumhuriyet

Despite the country’s official ban on Twitter, announced earlier this week, it didn’t take long for Turks to start tweeting, hashtagging #helyumlobisi.

The hashtag has been used 50,100 times since the speech, and still counting. Also today, the Turkish telecoms authority announced it had taken “administrative measure,” blocking the video-sharing site YouTube.

Renesys, a U.S. company the tracks Internet traffic, reported that a partial blockage of YouTube was in place.

One thing is for certain, Erdogan is not making friends on the internet ahead of the highly anticipated municipal elections this weekend.

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Boy, 4, Found Wandering Desert in Jordan http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/02/boy-4-found-wandering-desert-alone/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/02/boy-4-found-wandering-desert-alone/#comments Mon, 17 Feb 2014 20:40:28 +0000 Alexander Marquardt http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=510162 HT syria crossing mar 140217 16x9 608 Boy, 4, Found Wandering Desert in Jordan

A photo tweeted on Feb 17, 2014, by UNHCR representative Andrew Harper with the caption, "UN staff found 4 year-old Marwan crossing desert alone after being separated from family fleeing Syria." UNHCR/Twitter

In the middle of the vast, rocky desert, a little boy, separated from his family, looked to be wandering alone, carrying all his worldly possessions in a plastic bag half his height, United Nations officials said.

The stark, heart-breaking photo shows the boy, 4-year-old Marwan, being met by blue-vest United Nations aid workers.  It was captured by Andrew Harper, the United Nations Refugee Agency’s coordinator in Jordan, who posted it on Twitter before it shot around the Internet on Monday. Though the photo makes it look like he was all alone, he had been separated from a larger group in what Harper called “the chaos of the mass refugee [crossing.]”

“Unfortunately in every mass refugee [crossing] to Jordan, it is the elderly, sick, pregnant & often children that fall behind the main groups,” Harper tweeted  after the image went viral.

Marwan had just crossed Syria’s southern desert border on Sunday into northern Jordan, joining the ranks of the almost 600,000 Syrian refugees registered with the U.N. who have fled to Jordan to escape the almost three-year war in Syria that has now left more than 140,000 dead.

After the picture was taken, Marwan was reunited with his mother, Harper said.

Bgs4AKoIYAECFXm 16x9 608 Boy, 4, Found Wandering Desert in Jordan

A photo tweeted on Feb 17, 2014 by CNN'™s Hala Gorani with the caption, "UN staff found 4 year-old Marwan crossing desert alone after being separated from family fleeing Syria." UNHCR/Twitter

After Lebanon and Turkey, Jordan has taken in the most Syrian refugees. Most are women and children who cross the border on foot with the few belongings they can carry. The U.N. and Jordanian army then pick them up and take them to a registration center.

Jordan’s sprawling Zaatari camp is home to more than 100,000 refugees, the second-biggest camp in the world and is effectively Jordan’s fifth-largest city.


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Ariel Sharon Dead at 85: The World Reacts http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/01/ariel-sharon-dead-at-85-the-world-reacts/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/01/ariel-sharon-dead-at-85-the-world-reacts/#comments Sat, 11 Jan 2014 21:37:15 +0000 Kevin Dolak http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=505799

The death of Ariel Sharon, the tough and divisive leader who dedicated his life to the protection of Israel, has brought outpourings of respect and sympathy, along with harsh condemnation from his detractors. Below find reactions from notable leaders and groups who today remembered the man known as “The Bulldozer,” who played a mammoth role in Israel’s military and political affairs over the past 50 years.

President Barack Obama:

“On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the family of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and to the people of Israel on the loss of a leader who dedicated his life to the State of Israel. We reaffirm our unshakable commitment to Israel’s security and our appreciation for the enduring friendship between our two countries and our two peoples. We continue to strive for lasting peace and security for the people of Israel, including through our commitment to the goal of two states living side-by-side in peace and security. As Israel says goodbye to Prime Minister Sharon, we join with the Israeli people in honoring his commitment to his country.”

Former President George W. Bush:

“Laura and I join our friends in Israel and around the world in mourning the loss of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. I was honored to know this man of courage and call him friend. He was a warrior for the ages and a partner in seeking security for the Holy Land and a better, peaceful Middle East. Laura and I send our heartfelt condolences to Ariel’s family and all who will dearly miss him.”

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

“Ariel Sharon gave his life to Israel — to bring it into being, to sustain and preserve it, and at the end of his long service, to create a new political party committed to both a just peace and lasting security,” the Clintons said in a statement. “It was an honor to work with him, argue with him, and watch him always trying to find the right path for his beloved country.”

Secretary of State John Kerry:

“Ariel Sharon’s journey was Israel’s journey. The dream of Israel was the cause of his life, and he risked it all to live that dream.

“I remember reading about Arik in the papers when I was a young lawyer in Boston and marveling at his commitment to cause and country. I will never forget meeting with this big bear of a man when he became Prime Minister as he sought to bend the course of history toward peace, even as it meant testing the patience of his own longtime supporters and the limits of his own, lifelong convictions in the process. He was prepared to make tough decisions because he knew that his responsibility to his people was both to ensure their security and to give every chance to the hope that they could live in peace.

“During his years in politics, it is no secret that there were times the United States had differences with him. But whether you agreed or disagreed with his positions — and Arik was always crystal clear about where he stood — you admired the man who was determined to ensure the security and survival of the Jewish State. In his final years as Prime Minister, he surprised many in his pursuit of peace, and today, we all recognize, as he did, that Israel must be strong to make peace, and that peace will also make Israel stronger. We honor Arik’s legacy and those of Israel’s founding generation by working to achieve that goal.

Arik is finally at rest, and all of us in the United States pray along with his sons, Gilad and Omri, the Sharon family, and all the people of Israel. Our nation shares your loss and honors Ariel Sharon’s memory.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

“The State of Israel bows its head on the passing of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Ariel Sharon played a central role in the struggle for the security of the State of Israel over all its years. He was, first and foremost, a courageous fighter and an outstanding general, and was among the IDF’s greatest commanders. From his youth, he served the people of Israel on the battlefield. He did so as a soldier in the War of Independence, a commander in the [1956] Sinai campaign and the Six Day War, and up to his decisive role in the battle over the Suez Canal that led to the turning point in the Yom Kippur War. He established Unit 101 and took the initiative in the war against terrorism, which became a central pillar of the State of Israel. Upon leaving the military, he continued to work on behalf of the people of Israel both in his many government roles and as the 11th prime minister of the State of Israel. His memory will be enshrined forever in the heart of the nation.”




Vice President Joe Biden:

“Jill and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Ariel Sharon.  We send our condolences to his family and to his beloved nation of Israel.  I look forward to leading the U.S. delegation to his memorial service, to pay respects to the man and to pay tribute to the unshakeable partnership between the United States and Israel.”


Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement released a statement that “our people” feel “extreme happiness” at the death of Ariel Sharon, whom he described as a “tyrant” and a “criminal,” according to ITV News.

“[Sharon's] hands were smeared with the blood of our people and the blood of our leaders here and in exile,” he said.

Human Rights Watch:

Human Rights Watch released a statement today lamenting the fact that Sharon died without facing justice for his role in the massacres in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982.

“It’s a shame that Sharon has gone to his grave without facing justice for his role in Sabra and Shatilla and other abuses,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “His passing is another grim reminder that years of virtual impunity for rights abuses have done nothing to bring Israeli-Palestinian peace any closer.”

“For the thousands of victims of abuses, Sharon’s passing without facing justice magnifies their tragedy,” she said.

AP ariel sharon tk 140101 Ariel Sharon Dead at 85: The World Reacts

Emilio Morenatti/Ariel Sharon

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US Embassy in Kabul Attacked on Christmas Day http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/12/us-embassy-in-kabul-attacked-on-christmas-day/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/12/us-embassy-in-kabul-attacked-on-christmas-day/#comments Wed, 25 Dec 2013 11:34:26 +0000 Michael Howard http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=503939 AP kabul embassy nt 131225 16x9 608 US Embassy in Kabul Attacked on Christmas Day

Ahmad Nazar/AP Photo

Hundreds of American diplomats and aid workers in Kabul woke up Christmas morning to the sound of explosions, as the American embassy came under attack just after dawn.

The explosions sent staff at the embassy – who live on the same compound during their off-hours – scurrying to bomb shelters for cover.

The embassy sustained two hits from indirect fire, according to a US embassy statement provided to ABC.  It’s unclear if the “indirect fire” was mortars or rockets.  The embassy is closed on Christmas day, and no Americans were injured.  Embassy officials are now investigating the incident.

Rocket attacks aren’t uncommon in Kabul, but direct hits on the US embassy are rare.  It’s unclear exactly where within the sprawling, heavily fortified compound the projectiles landed.  Two rockets landed elsewhere in the city at around the same time, according to Afghan police.

 The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility, saying they had targeted the embassy but made no mention of the Christmas holiday.

 Unlike what the military calls “complex attacks,” which typically involve weeks of planning and end with armed insurgents storming inside a building, rocket attacks like today’s are difficult to prevent.  Kabul is surrounded by mountains and hills, with several unoccupied, high rise buildings currently under construction, offering militants convenient vantage points to launch attacks unobstructed.

Despite how easy it is to launch rockets and mortars, their targeting is far from precise.  Militants routinely launch mortars at coalition bases and other higher profile targets, but few ever hit their market, often landing outside the bases or in areas that are unpopulated.   In a complex attack this summer, seven Taliban fighters occupied a vacant building under construction roughly two miles from a US military base near the Kabul airport.  Despite the close proximity to the base, there were no casualties and all militants managed to do was launch a single rocket that tore a hole through an airplane hangar.  In 2009, the Taliban launched a series of rocket attacks on Kabul during the country’s elections.  They claimed their target was the Presidential palace, but most landed outside the palace compound.


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New Island Off Pakistan’s Coast May Not Stay Afloat http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/09/new-island-off-pakistans-coast-may-not-stay-afloat/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/09/new-island-off-pakistans-coast-may-not-stay-afloat/#comments Wed, 25 Sep 2013 20:12:37 +0000 Anna Pan http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=494210 ht pakistan earthquake new island ll 130924 16x9 608 New Island Off Pakistans Coast May Not Stay Afloat

This image shows what appears to be a new island off the coast of Pakistan after the Sept. 24, 2013 earthquake struck the country. (Latif Baloch)

A team of Pakistani researchers took samples today from a new island that mysteriously appeared off the coast following a massive earthquake this week, but warned area fishermen to avoid it and experts said the island may disappear as quickly as it arose.

“There are stones and mud,” Pakistani Navy geologist Mohammed Danish told Pakistan’s GEO TV. But he said that “Gases are still emitting.”

Tufail Baloch, the deputy commission of Gwadar district, told the Associated Press he was among several people who went to the island,  described as 60-feet high, 100-feet wide, and 25-feet long.  He said water bubbled along the edge of the island, the area smelled of gas and it caught fire when people lit cigarettes.

The island surprised locals who spotted it off the shore after the 7.7 magnitude earthquake that rattled the remote region earlier this week. But geologists said the island could quickly disappear.

“For earthquakes in this part of the world, along the coast of Pakistan and Iran, it’s not an uncommon phenomenon,” said U.S. Geological Survey research geophysicist Bill Barnhart. He cited earthquake-triggered islands that popped up in 2011, 2001, and 1945 and sank bank into the sea.

“They disappeared because they’re large piles of mud that erupt onto the sea floor and rise up above sea level. So with storms, they wash away pretty quickly,” Barnhart said. “They’re not necessarily made of hard rock. We expect this one will likely be gone within a couple months.”

“One of the likely mechanisms for forming the island is a mud volcano eruption, which is caused by the seismic waves of the earthquakes, which makes gases more buoyant and it erupts onto the surface,” Barnhart said.

“No one knows why most of these islands appear,” said Rob Mellors, a seismologist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “Usually pressure builds up and they appear one day. It’s a bit of a mystery.”

Mellors said it is common for mud volcanoes to bubble up bits of gas. “It would be safe to go on one of these islands.”

“There is nothing exceptionally unique about this one, other than it was triggered by a far away earthquake directly, which is rare,” he said.

Barnhart was doubtful about the presence of methane gas, however.

“The methane in this region we know about are deeper and off shore. It’s not the most likely scenario,” he said. “It could also be carbon dioxide, fluids in the ground. It’s not necessarily methane.”

Besides creating an island, the quake killed at least 327 and leveled some villages in the region.

U.S. Geological Survey Geophysicist Don Blakeman said there could be more danger posed by the earthquake.

“Because this is a very big and shallow earthquake, we’re going to continue to have aftershocks,” said Blakeman. “Some of them might be of substantial size. We can’t predict after shocks much better than we can predict earthquakes, so that’s a thing to be aware of. Particularly buildings that are already damaged are going to be vulnerable.”


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Iranians Get Access to Twitter, Facebook Without Restrictions http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/09/iranians-get-access-to-twitter-facebook-without-restrictions/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/09/iranians-get-access-to-twitter-facebook-without-restrictions/#comments Mon, 16 Sep 2013 23:02:48 +0000 Molly Hunter http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=493564 AP mideast iran facebook lpl 130916 16x9 608 Iranians Get Access to Twitter, Facebook Without Restrictions

(Vahid Salemi/AP Photo)

For the first time in four years, many Iranians logged on to Facebook and Twitter Monday night without using  virtual private networks  or any anti-filtering software, according to journalists in Tehran. Other blocked sites reportedly remain unavailable.

Following the election protests in 2009, the Iranian government blocked access to Twitter in a bid to limit reporting from the ground. The Green Movement protests, in response to former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election, sparked millions of Iranians to share information and pictures on Twitter. Since then, Iranians have turned to special software to navigate around the block.

There has been no official statement from the Iranian government, and it’s not clear whether tonight’s access was a technical glitch or whether the change will be permanent.

Just three months after President Hassan Rouhani was elected, pledging greater online access, some Iranian officials have  become more active on social media.

President Rouhani’s media team tweets regularly from @HassanRouhani and Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif started tweeting earlier this month, and Twitter has already verified his account.

For the time being, at least two Western journalists in Tehran are enjoying the freedom while it lasts.

The New York Times’ Tehran bureau chief Thomas Erdbrink tweets:

And the Washington Post’s Tehran correspondent Jason Rezaian weighs in:


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Assad Suggests Retaliation Against US in Charlie Rose Interview http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/09/assad-suggests-retaliation-against-us-in-charlie-rose-interview/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/09/assad-suggests-retaliation-against-us-in-charlie-rose-interview/#comments Sun, 08 Sep 2013 21:07:49 +0000 Matthew Larotonda http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=492787

Syrian President Bashar Assad reportedly warned today of possible retaliation against the United States should the country intervene in his nation’s civil war.

In an interview with CBS’ Charlie Rose, Assad denied the Obama administration’s assertion that he had deployed the lethal nerve gas sarin against his own people, but would not say whether he has access to chemical weapons.

Assad reportedly said he didn’t necessarily expect a U.S. attack but, “there would be — suggested there would be, among people that are aligned with him, some kind of retaliation if a strike was made,” Rose said on “Face the Nation” this morning, adding “[Assad] would not talk about any kind of the nature of the response.”

AP syria bashar al assad lpl 130829 16x9 608 Assad Suggests Retaliation Against US in Charlie Rose Interview

(Credit: Vahid Salemi/AP Photo)

“He had a message to the American people that it had not been a good experience for them to get involved in the Middle East in wars and conflict in the Middle East. That the result had not been good, and that they should not get involved, and that they should communicate through their Congress and through their leadership in Washington not to authorize a strike,” Rose said.

RELATED: White House Intensifies Efforts to Make the Case for Syria Military Strikes

For weeks the White House has been attempting to rally support from the public and Congress for a punitive strike against the Assad regime, accused of killing 1,429, in an August chemical attack near Damascus.  The administration says 426 children were among the dead. But that number pales in comparison to the total dead in Syria’s turmoil, which the United Nations estimates at over 100,000.

Rose said Assad “does accept some of the responsibility” for those killed.

“I asked that very question: ‘Do you feel any remorse?’ He said, ‘Of course I do,’ but it did not come in a way that was sort of deeply felt inside,” Rose said. “It was much more of a calm recitation of anybody who’s a leader of a country would feel terrible about what’s happened to its citizens.”

Central to the administration’s outreach campaign are a series of disturbing videos shown to members of Congress in classified briefings. Obtained by ABC News, the open-sourced clips show scores of adults and children dead or dying from what experts say appear to be chemical weapons, which the administration says Assad’s regime used in the conflict.

Rose told CBS’ Bob Schieffer he showed Assad today’s New York Times story that documents the history of Syria’s nerve gas stockpiles, but Assad reportedly repeated the suggestion that the attack may have been orchestrated by rebels.

“He said, ‘I can’t confirm or deny that we have chemical weapons.’ He did, however, say that in fact, ‘If we do have them — and I’m not going to say yes or no — they’re in centralized control, so no one else has access to them.’” Rose recounted, adding: “The most important thing as he basically says is that, ‘There is no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people. There is no evidence of that.’”

Clips of the interview will be made available on CBS Monday morning and it will be aired in its entirety that night on PBS’ “The Charlie Rose Show.” It comes the same day President Obama himself sits down for one-on-one interviews with the anchors of six networks.

RELATED: Obama Plans Media Blitz as Syria Fight Heats Up

Assad was also reportedly “very concerned” that a U.S. strike would change the balance of power in favor of the rebels in his country, which are known to include extremist groups with links to the al Qaeda terror network. The ambiguity of trust from some of those factions are among the chief concerns brought by critics of a U.S. attack.

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Syria’s Response to Obama Speech: We Won http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/09/syrias-response-to-obama-speech-we-won/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/09/syrias-response-to-obama-speech-we-won/#comments Sun, 01 Sep 2013 20:46:58 +0000 Terry Moran http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=492185 AP turkey syria crisis protesters jt 130901 16x9 608 Syrias Response to Obama Speech: We Won

(Credit: Gregorio Borgia/AP Photo)


We won.

That’s the gist of reaction coming out of Damascus to President Obama’s decision to forgo an attack on Syria for now and seek congressional authorization for the use of military force.

Church bells rang out, prayers of gratitude sounded from minarets, ordinary Syrians exhaled in relief, according to media reports and word-of-mouth from Damascus.

Morning TV in Syria blared: “Syria Confronts the Aggressors.”

There is an unmistakable sense of triumph in the air throughout the Arab world for those who support Bashar al-Assad’s regime — and for many others who just want to see the U.S. stymied. And nothing enhances the stature of an Arab leader like defying the US.

“The Syrian army’s readiness is what warded off U.S. aggression against Syria,” Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadr Jamil declared in Damascus.

Syrian state TV went so far as to declare that Obama called off the attack because he could not prove the allegation that Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons.

On al Manar, Hezbollah’s TV network in Lebanon, an analyst claimed a “strategic victory” over America, saying that the joint stance of Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah frightened Obama into retreat.

On the other side of the Syrian civil war, however, there was crushing disappointment and disillusionment.

“The Syrian people feel more alone now than ever,” said Mouaz Mustafa, executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force. “This is absolutely a blow to many in the opposition on the ground who’ve suffered the brunt of the chemical attacks.”

A final observation: Obama framed his decision in ringing terms, drawing on the deepest American constitutional ideals. He made the case that the country’s true strength in the world flows from open democratic debate and decision-making, and there may be truth in that — in America. Not so much in this part of the world. Here, strength flows from strength — from the will, pride, ruthlessness and ferocity of a man, of a people. Democracy calls for a very different set of values. And for many in this ancient region, so alien in some ways to the culture of the West, those values — and leaders who turn to them instead of to force — are simply weak.

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Russia Compares Syria War Drums to Iraq Invasion, Warns of Consequences of Intervention http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/08/russia-compares-syria-war-drums-to-iraq-invasion-warns-of-consequences-of-intervention/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/08/russia-compares-syria-war-drums-to-iraq-invasion-warns-of-consequences-of-intervention/#comments Sun, 25 Aug 2013 22:05:22 +0000 Kirit Radia http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=491644

MOSCOW — Russia issued a stark warning today against renewed calls for foreign military intervention in Syria after an alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus last week.

In a pair of statements, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman drew comparisons between the current situation in Syria and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and urged countries “not to repeat the mistakes of the past.” Responding directly to comments by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel about military contingency planning, Alexander Lukashevich said such remarks were “alarming.”

Lukashevich reiterated Russia’s position that evidence the Syrian military was responsible for the suspected chemical attack was pre-fabricated in order to frame the government.

He said statements by the United States, France, and Britain that blame government forces are “completely ignoring many facts pointing to the fact that this action as a provocation of the irreconcilable opposition.”

AP syria violence jt 130825 16x9 608 Russia Compares Syria War Drums to Iraq Invasion, Warns of Consequences of Intervention

(Hassan Ammar/AP Photo)

The situation “brings to mind the events of 10 years ago, when, on the pretext of false information about the Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction, the United States outside the U.N. went on an adventure, the consequences of which are well known,” Lukashevich said.

The statement also warned foreign intervention in Syria “will lead to its further escalation and the most devastating impact on the already volatile situation in the Middle East.”

In an earlier statement, Russia also took credit for the Syrian government agreeing to allow UN inspectors to visit the site of the latest alleged chemical weapons attack outside Damascus.

“This is, in our view, an opportunity for a thorough, impartial and objective investigation of all the circumstances of what happened,” the statement in Lukashevich’s name said.

It goes on to urge the armed opposition to allow the UN inspectors safe passage and warns countries not to use the attack as justification for “military action in Syria.”

While Secretary of State John Kerry has been furiously working the phones on Syria, his Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has been doing so as well. Since Thursday he has spoken to Kerry as well as his counterparts from the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton.

The White House has spent much of the weekend deliberating how to proceed, now that, as a senior administration official told ABC News, it has determined there is “very little doubt” that the Assad regime is responsible for the alleged chemical attack.

Read: Red Line Crossed? Syria in Focus at White House Meeting

“Based on the reported number of victims, reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, witness accounts, and other facts, there is very little doubt at this point that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in this incident,” the official said. “We are continuing to assess the facts so the president can make an informed decision about how to respond to this indiscriminate use of chemical weapons.”

White House officials also point out the attack was on rebel-held territory and apparently done using rockets that the rebels do not possess.

The president has ordered his national security team to draw up possible strike options on Syria, but there is a divide in the White House on how forcefully to respond, although another official told ABC News if there is a strike, it must be “timely” — done soon enough to prevent another chemical attack.

However, the White House does not want to act alone. U.S. officials are back channeling through the United Nations to see if Russia could be convinced to agree to a resolution.

If there is no UN authorization, the United States would lead any possible strike, but, a senior official told ABC News “we do not want to do anything on our own.” U.S. allies must commit both “resources” and “political will” the official said.

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl contributed to this report.

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