Zakaria: Syrians seem to be playing clever game
September 9th, 2013
05:28 PM ET

Zakaria: Syrians seem to be playing clever game

Fareed speaks with CNN about Syria and Russia’s proposal that it put its chemical weapons under international control.

If the U.N. Security Council were to pass a Russian resolution with Russian support, Chinese support trying to destroy Syria's chemical weapons' stockpiles, that would certainly offer the president of the United States a way out of this current crisis. He could come out and say, look, there are not going to be any more chemical weapons attacks if all of this is serious.

He could. It’s a blow for the administration's strategy, though, because they really wanted to use this attack as a way of sending a signal, a very strong signal, about the use of chemical weapons. They point out, Secretary Kerry says, that al-Assad has used these weapons perhaps in the teens, that is several times.

It’s also clear that this was an occasion the administration was going to use to shift the balance of power away from al-Assad and toward the rebels. So they lose that option and they lose that ability to degrade al-Assad's air power, in particular six airfields they were planning to strike.

The whole thing, however, does demonstrate something very striking. That is, if you take this Syrian acceptance of this Russian proposal and you add to it al-Assad's interview [with Charlie Rose] that we have seen clips of, what I'm struck by is quite different from Saddam Hussein or many Arab leaders. Al-Assad is not engaging in a lot of bravado or kind of crazy talk if you think of Gadhafi's interview on the eve of that campaign. Al-Assad has been very cool, very calculating, very clever in what arguments he uses.

In the interview, he talked about how there wasn't public support for this. He reminded people of the Colin Powell speech at the United Nations. He talked about the fact that the rebels are linked to al Qaeda. This was not a kind of bizarre rant about American imperialism and Israel. It was clearly designed to weaken the American public's support. And so, you add to it this acceptance of a proposal, and it all strikes me as suggesting that the Syrians are playing a very clever game of counter offensive.

You’ve been skeptical of a lot of this current crisis, on what the U.S. needs to do. What would you want to hear from the president that would reassure you, that would convince you it's the right thing to go ahead and launch these air strikes against targets in Syria?

I think the most important thing with any strategy is what is your objective? What are we trying to do here? And once you figure that out, you can then use whatever tools you have. But you also then know when you've achieved that objective. And I think the problem with the administration's strategy is it's not entirely clear what the objective is. John Kerry calls this a Munich moment, invoking the path to World War II and Adolf Hitler's attempt to conquer the world. But if it's a Munich moment, are we really going to do two days of air strikes that the president describes as a shot across the bow, which is really a warning?

So, you know, if he is going to pursue a very limited – almost symbolic – strike, it needs to be clear that is what the strategy is, what the objective is, when we will know that we have achieved it, and when we can then say, this is done or is there a much broader strategy with much broader objectives at work. I think that this is partly why there isn't as much public support, because people wonder which of these two strategies is being pursued.

Post by:
Topics: Syria

Next entry »
« Previous entry
soundoff (153 Responses)
  1. DR STEVE RAMSEY- CANADA

    the opposition in Syria 90% of them are national democratic and those who belong to Islamic flag are limited..BUSH USED BINLADEN Kissed HIM GAVE HIM WEAPONS AND MONEY TO ATTACK THE RUSSIANS IT IS A TACTIC...u can expose the enemy and kill the big snake first we must also protect our people in Jordan turkey and Israel against Iran and Hezbollah terrorists..

    September 10, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Reply
  2. DR STEVE RAMSEY- CANADA

    SYRIAN GOVERNMENT EVIL SHIA are ALREADY ADMITTED TO THE WORLD THAT THEY HAVE THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS AND THEY ATTACK THE CIVILIANS AND IT IS PROVEN NOW....THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS ARE REGULAR PEOPLE KURDS, ARABS, SUNNI, CHRISTIANS AND DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE WHO WANT THOSE EVIL SHIA OUT AS THEY ARE 12% CONTROLLING 88% WITH FORCE AND NO ELECTIONS..Hezbollah terrorists are killing the civilians for asad and Iran sending money along with Iraqi shia those are the new alqayeda called the shia thugs...............

    September 10, 2013 at 9:41 pm | Reply
  3. DR STEVE RAMSEY- CANADA

    Syrian thugs are sending most of the weapons to Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon the evil arm of Iran and Bahasa al kalb in Lebanon USA MUST ASK FOR THE REMOVAL OF BASHAR FROM POWER ALONG WITH HIS WEAPONS NOW AND DISARM HEZBOLLAH IF THEY DONT THEN ATTACK OR ELSE....THOSE EVIL MUST FACE THE WRATH OF USA...

    September 10, 2013 at 9:43 pm | Reply
  4. jamesdickason

    What ???–You mean there are Leaders out there that are smarter than Obama ??? Good Greif–

    September 10, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  5. Alan

    All they wanted was freedom, the kind they found online. We let most of them be murdered or die on the battlefield. Kids not much deferent than the ones u see everyday ,murdered by the thousands. People just like u and me who found the guts to fight for freedom, u turn ur back on. Oh how we take for granted our freedoms and trample others desires for the same,

    September 10, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Reply
    • Phelix Unger

      Its true John what you say about these people who are trying to change their futures, and yes their being cut down for wanting freedom from oppression and a voice in which direction their country should take in the future. Russia has a large responsibility for the continued killing, but they will not face repercussions for their actions. One person or family who has to not be allowed to escape justice is Al Assad and his brother. If he and his brother were shown the same treatment as the leader of Liybia was, it would be a very good thing.

      September 11, 2013 at 12:16 am | Reply
    • Phelix Unger

      My apologies Alan, little to tired. Good post Alan, have a great night.

      September 11, 2013 at 12:19 am | Reply
    • Srini

      No doubt, it is their freedom and their truth (who is the oppressor/freedom fighter).. we can not assume their truths and intervene, we have not done so in many places (china, Rwanda, USSR, eastern Europe, etc).. and we have done horribly elsewhere (all over South America, Vietnam, Iraq...). when we have more precedents where we have stayed out or screwed up royally, why is this so special to intervene at a time we can least afford? That Russia/iran petroleum pipeline theory begins to sound "may be?" !!

      We need to provide moral and humanitarian support to the victims. But, entering the fray as an aggressor is uncalled for... if we so strongly believe that our moral beliefs or political interests at risk, arm our favorite side let them fight their war. Freedom without sacrifice or ownership by those seeking will be easy come, easy go.

      September 11, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Reply
  6. john

    U.S. should press Israel, Egypt to sign chemical weapons ban – if they really want to be an honest broker

    September 10, 2013 at 10:48 pm | Reply
    • Joe Texan

      Chemical weapons are trash weapon technology from the 19th century. Why would Israel have chemical weapons when they have nuclear? The U.S. and the Soviet Union agreed to destroy our chemical weapons because they are worthless if you have nuclear.

      September 11, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Reply
      • Truth

        No chemical weapons are not "worthless". Nuclear weapons destroy everything, chemical weapons only kill but leave buildings intact. That is VERY useful if you want to take over territory, search buildings for information, etc. For example if a country loses territory and there is a sizeable opposition force in it, what are you gonna do? nuke it? You want to regain it not make it uninhabitable, chem weapons achieve that. Israel may very well have chemical weapons.

        I do agree that they should be banned though and that Israel needs to sign the treaties against chem weapons and nuclear weapons.

        September 11, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  7. sam900

    Zakaria is right on the issue. Assad and Putin outsmart Obama and Kerry. Now it appears to the world that Assad wants peace and Obama is a warmonger. Should the UN nominate Putin and Assad for Nobel Peace Prize?

    September 11, 2013 at 8:04 am | Reply
  8. m.s.mohamed ansari

    ECONOMIC COLLAPSE REASON ILLEGAL WAR .PLEASE SAVE GLOBAL ECONOMICS
    Royal Forces And Wedding spending one year $ 1.7 trillion. Each Every Politician 8 years only queen family enjoying 10 generation
    GLOBAL CONTROL OVER BY
    QUEEN ELIZABATH

    FREE MASON.
    CONGRESS

    ELECTRONICAL
    VOTE
    Electronic vote RESULT IS GONE DESIGNING WORLD
    HEADQUARTERS
    OF ALL
    ASSOCIATION

    PRESS
    MEDIA G20
    LEADER
    & RED CROSS
    UN
    IMF EURO
    UNION.USA.UK.G8
    HOUSE OF COMMONS.
    THE WHITE HOUSE ARAB
    LEADERS
    &
    POPE

    OPEC
    &
    NASA
    GLOBAL
    EFFECTED
    Enjoying
    UK.ROYAL
    USA
    UK.ARABS
    EURO
    UNION
    FREE
    MASON
    U.K – U.S & Eurounion
    • WAR cost total $ 3.5 TRILLION
    • POVERTY FAMINE &Effected education.
    • Jobless PRESENT ECONOMIC CRISIS
    • Effected All liberal democracy .ALL Country every one tax payer
    • FDI INVESTOR &Joint ventured
    • Effected CNC manufacturer & energy power
    • BANKRUPT 170 BANK OVER ALL 87000 BRANCHES
    • Million of people death and million of people is wounded. NATO &US. Coalition troops
    • Increase every day by day OPEC.
    • Global environment climate change this leads to agricultural &human health problem
    JUSTICE IS IN PERIL .SAVIOUR OF INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE ALONE CAN PROTECT HUMANITY . NO 154 Angappanaick street, Chennai 600 001 south INDIA
    Kindly please open the link which is below M.S.MOHAMED ANSARI
    http://costofwar.com/
    http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/war.casualties/index.html
    http://usparliament.org/globaleconomicsdivision.php
    http://openlibrary.org/authors/OL3647712A/World_Media_Association
    Economic save only 6 point. Peace, prayer, liberty, unity, friendly, and simplicity

    September 11, 2013 at 8:15 am | Reply
    • R a f

      Google translate?

      September 11, 2013 at 9:16 am | Reply
  9. Quest

    For once Fareed is talking Petro-dollar rubbish.

    September 11, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Reply
  10. JustUsBikers

    There are two scenarios that can play out with the chemical weapons being removed, destroyed and verified.

    The first one, Russia and Syria are truthful with the removal and destruction of the chemical weapons and can be verified without a doubt. While the process is going on no use of chemical weapons are being used. One would think that all is good!

    The second one is the process has been removed, destroyed and "verified". Then Syria or some other rebel faction continues to use the chemical weapons. Then we are back with, "Is Syria behind it or some other rebel faction doing it?"

    There is nothing to say this won't happen again knowing that some other country can provide the chemical weapons.

    September 11, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Reply
  11. Seth DeKooters

    Fareed Zakaria like his older colleague Fouad A. Ajami are the kind of intellectuals who write and say whatever their Jewish editors expect/demand as the price they must pay to be permitted to appear on American network television programs and in American mainstream printed media. They lie, dissemble, "analyze", etc. to retain their high profiles, salaries, perks and perceived status as "intellectuals" which are not..

    September 11, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Reply
    • Wisdom

      You couldn't say it any better. I'm going to post what Zakaria say in websites of other countries, and hopefully when he's in their country they shut his mouth. Tell the truth or stay unbiased! We'll see how much you change your story when in another country, and you're pressed to tell the truth. You're a blatant liar Zakaria!

      September 12, 2013 at 8:24 am | Reply
  12. Kay

    Well illustrated by Seth; The big Media Networks in U.S. are designed to brain-wash the public for the benefit of state controller; They can turn a dictator into a saint and vise versa. We keep hearing about use of CW is world's red-line; What was the color of the line when Sadam used CW on Kurdish civilian in 1988 killing 5000 men,women and childrens? looks like in some cases, the red-line turns into yellow. Now, Why would Al-Assad gov. winning the war against Saudi-paid, Islamic extremist and thugs, cross the red line by using CW and send invitation for military strike? Just need to use little intelligence to connect the dots ... objective: regim change, Primary Beneficiaries: Israel & Saudi Arabia, Who pays the price: U.S. & Syrian.

    September 11, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Reply
    • vistar hornbill

      That, unfortunately, is one of the bad cultures among American medias. I suspect its all about who is paying the bills for them (in ads).

      The only way a media can survive today's high tech fast comm world is only to speak the truth, and nothing but the truth. There should be no half truths or any white washing of national issues past and present.

      A media must remain non partisan or risk perishing because nobody could believe what they print . Yet , I still see a two CNN blond TV commentators who are glaringly leaning towards GOP, and making a fool of themselves in the process, I have to be blind not to notice the obvious bias and mistakes !

      September 11, 2013 at 10:55 pm | Reply
  13. Wisdom

    Zakaria you're going to learn to keep it real or keep your mouth shut. You're horrible! And fix your teeth you're on tv for heaven's sake.

    September 12, 2013 at 8:29 am | Reply
    • Pat

      Boy you really gave it to Fareed. I am sure that your telling him to keep his mouth shut, because of your disapproval of what he said will do the trick. All of your arguments are so strong, so I am sure that he will value your opinion.
      And that comment about him having crooked teeth, wow I bet that was just about the worst thing that he has ever heard.
      FYI: I watch Fareed Zakaria every Sunday morning religiously. I believe that his discussions and the panels that he chairs force all of us to consider other ways of looking at things and leaves us with more questions to ponder, are the best foreign news source available. His reports are unbiased and not being paid for by the Russian Government, like the news stories on RT News.
      Fareed keep up the Great Work!

      September 12, 2013 at 10:37 pm | Reply
  14. Pat

    Unfortunately I believe that since President Obama did not act immediately after the reports of the largest violation by Assad's forces on August 21, Secretary Kerry and Obama's Administration are left to mull over the Russian proposal for a UN resolution on the elimination of Syria's Chemical Weapons.
    If such a proposal requires the US to move its Naval Forces from off of the Syrian Coast, and to stand down, they must reject such a proposal by whatever means necessary.
    As long as the US maintain our forces in a ready state, they can strike Assad for any more violations of Chemical Weapons use, and any such response must include payback for the August 21 use of Chemical Weapons as well. (So instead of 2 days of strikes, it will be 4 days of strikes.)
    Obama must learn from his mistake of August 21, next time he must take action and not worry about Polls or whether Mr. Putin doesn't agree with him about the color of the sky being blue.

    September 12, 2013 at 10:54 pm | Reply
1 2 3

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Next entry »
« Previous entry
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,509 other followers