Transcript for Crisis in Syria: Military Strikes on Hold
This is a special report from ABC news. Hello -- Hernandez in New York -- ABC news -- -- -- special reports this strike on Syria on hold. Now President Obama is hoping rusher will help save him from his own congress. The president has asked lawmakers to delay a vote on Syria until it might be possible for the international community to take control of the -- chemical capability. He's argument. Only the threat of military intervention is necessary to keep the process moving. ABC's Karen Travers in Washington has been following the story has more on these latest developments Karen good afternoon -- President Obama said last. Night that America's ideals and principles are at stake in Syria but for now he's will try and work with world leaders to come up with a solution that doesn't include a military strike. After a frantic two weeks -- scrambling on Syria. Today Washington pots. President Obama and members of congress marked the anniversary of the September 11 attacks -- -- solemn ceremonies. A US military strike on Syria -- less likely now -- said yesterday it will turn over its chemical weapons. But there are big questions about how that would actually happen. In an address to the nation last night President Obama welcome these developments but he showed a healthy dose of skepticism. It's too early to tell whether this offer will succeed. Any agreement must to verify that the Asad regime keeps its commitments. Secretary of state John Kerry heads to Europe this week to meet with his Russian counterpart to try and work out a plan. The administration is also pushing for a Syria resolution through the UN Security Council says. She is the focus right now but the president insisted last night a military strike must still be an option. Our ideals. And principles. As well as our national security are at stake -- -- -- modest effort and risk. We can stop children from being gassed to death. But nearly two thirds of Americans oppose military action and it's unclear if president Obama's speech last night changed any minds. I think President Obama presented his case. -- -- -- -- -- -- The right thing to do at this point I think if they've done until a few weeks ago. Without. Provocation that it would have been -- Congress is also on hold no upcoming votes on any Syria resolution says lawmakers wait and see if diplomacy works -- Right thank you Karen Travers joining us from Washington and we're also joined. He's got from Moscow by ABC's -- -- a cure it President Obama last night the clearest terms laid out the prospect of a Russian brokered deal let's listen. Over the last few days we've seen some and -- signs. In part because of the credible threat of US military action. As well as constructive talks that I had with President Putin. The Russian government has indicated a willingness to join with the international community. In pushing aside to give up his chemical weapons. -- -- regime has now admitted that it has these weapons. And even said they join the chemical weapons convention which prohibits their use. It's too early to tell whether this offer will succeed in any agreement must to verify that the Asad regime keeps its commitments. But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force. Particularly because Russia is one of -- strongest -- -- -- -- the food and government is never easy to read but is there a sense that they are really committed to making that work. I think they are immediately because they're afraid of an American strike on Syria for a number of reasons. -- under Putin himself has said that he thinks that an American an important western strike at Syria would further destabilize the conflicts. Would -- al-Qaeda backed elements inside Syria would destabilize the entire region. But also because remember Russia has its own. A strategic interest at state but president also does it longtime ally of the Russian government his father was a long time. Ally of the of the Soviet government and that there is a conservative Russia that they could be -- Some leverage in the Middle East if that government falls so certainly they do want to. The diplomacy succeed if only to try to preserve those elements. And now we should mention that John Kerry mentioned a similar scenario during a press conference on Monday. The it's expected the Americans to latch -- this so quickly. This was something that has been -- has been discussed between the US -- the Russians going back at least a year if not a little bit more than that. So it's something that they had that both sides would do about it had been talking about. Perhaps -- -- they had been planning on not doing something eventually. It does appear that this secretary Kerry at least it got a little bit. Abide by making it public on Monday and the Russians saw an opportunity and definitely -- it they saw a vote coming -- program one that. President Obama may well have lost in fact but they they saw. -- the possibility of the strike it was something as I said that they were very worried about. They see the opportunity to make sure that that there were alternatives. Submit to avert a strike at their posted. You mention the Russian government keeping tabs on congress how much. This do you think is there the pouncing on the fact that Obama was on shaky standing on shaky ground with congress. Potentially refusing to go along with his plan. Well I don't think. Think they were looking to bail -- the presidents on but the Russians looking to build up the president politically I guess I think that they they they saw there was a possibility of the strike it was something they saw as. A dangerous for -- for the conflict in the region and again contrary to their own strategic interest. I was their primary -- -- -- not American politics. What is Russia have to -- by brokering -- deal here obviously. No one expects -- regime to fully give up. All of its chemical weapons stockpile this is in some ways symbolic but again what do the Russian leaders game. Well. They said they do have strategic interest and Syria had that should not be discount to -- they feel like if they can -- An American strike at Syria it will prevent. That conflicts -- the moment in the conflict from tipping towards the opposition. But there's also -- way. A -- -- nuts and bolts -- from -- for the Russians. They are particularly thrilled about the prospect of Syrian chemical weapons. Potentially getting out of control. As they've noted and as the American side to noted as well there are al-Qaeda -- backed groups operating inside Syria. -- politics is from one of those facilities which are under Syrian military guard to fall and those very dangerous chemicals. Could be in the wrong hands. The Russians are very concerned about that they have the number of people from of the Caucasus region that's Chechnya and other areas that are. I've been fighting and the -- insurgency against the Russian government for decades. -- think they're very worried about some of those Chechen fighters that are in Syria coming back with things like chemical weapons of bringing the fight there. It's interesting as well -- here we've gone from -- a situation where both Russia and Syria completely and unequivocally denied. That that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons that they even had chemical weapons to both saying. OK we know they do and we're ready -- to make a deal here. This is very good point I think it -- it points to the fact that that both the Syrians and the Russians were very worried about an American strike. You know last week a 88 American official told my -- days is colleague Jon Karl. That their -- first strike a western strike on Syria -- limited. Would've done more damage in 24 hours at 48 hours excuse me. That -- Syrian rebels have done in two and a half years of civil war so even if this was from the US perspective that limited strike it would have posed a significant challenge to the to the sillier Syrian military and -- it could -- potentially. But tipped the scales in the favor of the rebels that's something that the Syrian government of course didn't want to do -- they see this as a way of at the very least delaying. A strike you know experts have said that in order to actually. To carry out this that this -- -- -- that chemical weapons that it could take years it would be very difficult to do in the middle of a war zone so. The very worst from their perspective this is a is -- as a delaying tactic if not sitting there on scant. All right you're writing a thank you so much for joining us reporting from Moscow via -- and now. Like turning ABC's just -- -- in Washington for more -- the president saying. He just needs the threat of military and -- to keep his diplomatic process going. What are people making a -- and were the odds that we will now seeing a vote in congress. Or certainly not going to see a vote in congress any time this week possibly any time soon that was one of the messages it to the president took directly to. Senators yesterday meeting in. A closed door sessions separately with Republicans and Democrats and basically he said his message -- don't undercut my authority. Translating that into don't have a vote here don't let this fail that will weaken the US -- abroad but I was struck vice. The conversations I had with several Republican senators. Who have been skeptical of this so they do seem to be willing to give. For the president some time some time for diplomacy. If perhaps to a work or not but the question is what is the fallback plan if this does not work. If -- Russia and Syria and the United Nations if this world community is not able to. -- some type of the deal on this reach some type of a a way forward for removing the chemical weapons what's the -- that -- so yes military strikes are still squarely. On the table but he doesn't the president doesn't quite have the support. In congress for those so for right now a holding pattern there was initially supposed to be -- vote. But today in the senate the first vote on this the president asked for a delay and that's what he's getting no one is eager to. Vote on this in congress known -- pushing this everyone is sort of breathing a sigh of relief. Now you mentioned that's obviously military invention intervention is still very much on the table here's what the president. I'd say about that. To my friends on the right I ask you to reconcile your commitment to America's military might. With a failure to act when the cause this so plainly just. To my friends on the left. I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people. -- those images of children riding in pain. And going still on a cold hospital floor. For sometimes resolutions. And statements of condemnation. Are simply not enough. Indeed I'd ask every member of congress and those of you watching at home tonight. To view those videos of the attack. And then ask. What kind of world -- we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly. Violate international law with poison gas. And we choose to look the other way. So there you have the president talking to congressional members on the left and on the right but also to the American public where do we. No Laura believe that the American public stands on this issue right now. -- we know that the American public is squarely against any type of a military action certainly any type of unilateral military action. And the American -- also. Seems convinced that chemical weapons were used so basically they're saying that. Now it's not our problem or -- isn't our problem when the president was pretty blunt in acknowledging -- -- yesterday in his closed door meetings. I'm on Capitol Hill. He said that he knows that she will not be able to turn around the tide of public opinion particularly just in one speech but he said it is incumbent upon all. -- From the president certainly and other congressional leaders to a league public opinion not just following it so she. It's very unlikely that many minds were changed by the president's speech last night or this new round of diplomacy but he's certainly bottom -- some time and that is certainly important as well. And you mention members of congress are relieved to also has some time as well but is there a general consensus among people -- -- into that. They trust the Russians to broker this deal. No there is no sense of trust they know that they need to trust but verify it. -- the old I saying from President Reagan and President Obama invoked that several times in his meetings yesterday that they are deeply skeptical of the actions in the back. The intent of the Syrians and Russians are so trust but verify -- the central theme going forward here but. No one is eager to see. This vote in congress. Say also they are very. Happy was. It's fine with giving it a little bit more time for diplomacy but there are some alternative resolution some fallback plans just beginning to -- shape up. But. They're hoping that. That they don't have to use those or vote on this so certainly this -- and it may take several weeks. For joining us and for those of you joining -- at home -- Hernandez in new York and you've been watching an ABC news digital special report. This has been a special group. Report from me.
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