(Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Israel accused Syria of using chemical weapons against rebels, citing reports of victims foaming at the mouth. President Obama has said chemical weapons would be crossing a “red line” and “game changer,” to which the U.S. would respond. The U.S. also just doubled its aid to Syrian rebels, pledging to give $123 million in body armor and other supplies. We hear the latest news and discuss America’s options with the Syria situation.

Guests:
Deborah Amos, Middle East correspondent for NPR
Gregory Koblentz, Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations
Amr Al-Azm, associate professor of Middle East history and anthropology at Shawnee State University
Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and chair of Middle Eastern studies at the University of San Francisco, senior analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, and author of "Western Sahara: War, Nationalism and Conflict Irresolution."

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    How about the United States start getting more concerned about the anti USA folks who will become the new leaders when Syria falls? Or doesn’t anyone pay attention to what has happened in Egypt and Lybia?

    • EIDALM

      The Egyptian revolution is still going on and Morsi and his Brotherhood clans will be removed from office…Egypt and Egyptians will never accept an Islamic state.

      • commonsense1234

        The irony here is that now that the Brotherhood are in power, they actually have to rule and their support will depend on how they do at governing. Plus since the Egyptian military gets $2+ billion a year from the US, they will be keeping tabs on the Brotherhood to make sure they don’t go too far in the Islamic direction.

  • Wayne

    The terrorist jihadis that the USA flew into Syria from Libya and Saudi Arabia to fight Assad have been so vicious, hated and incompetent that now the USA’s and its lapdog Israel are finally playing the trump card of accusing Assad of using chemical weapons, which is just another fabrication in a long list of fabrications. But taking the wild claims to the next level is a huge mistake. If we invade and Assad falls, actual terrorists will take over and civil society will perish, not to mention the rule of law. Such a move would risk a wider war since Russia and Iran stand behind Syria. Why worsen the Faustian bargain by cutting off the nose to spite the face? Maybe the USA should also assassinate an Austrian Archduke and really get things going.

    • commonsense1234

      The longer the conflict continues, the more the civilian population is going to be brutalized. Assad will fall – one way or another. If we do nothing, it will take longer and only the meanest well-organized rebel group will take control – that will probably be the jihadists. If we help the FSA, there is a chance that the new govt will be democratic. The US/NATO does not need to invade – air power and military support to the FSA should easily topple the regime (e.g. Libya, Bosnia). “Risking a wider war” is BS. The Russian and the Iranians are not going to do anything. This is not July/August 1914. This is 1995 Bosnia/Serbia.

      • thucy

        “This is 1995 Bosnia/Serbia.”

        Surely, you jest. I have been visiting the Balkans every decade since the 70s, including the 1990s.

        This is NOT – in any way – 1995 Bosnia/Serbia. Syrians are NOTHING LIKE anyone in former Yugoslavia. NOTHING like them at all.

  • Chemist150

    There needs to be a multi-country witnessing to the “verification” of chemical weapons that include countries other than the US, Britain or affiliates, France, and Israel.

    • commonsense1234

      When is this verification going to happen? I can not see the Syrian regime letting in UN inspectors. This is not realistic.

      • Chemist150

        When did they let in the US?

      • Chemist150

        The US has a credibility issue in these matters. A full assessment should include countries other than US and allies to reach consensus.

  • Chemist150

    Small use of chemical weapons could be from rebels to incriminate Assad. They could have gotten the gas from sympathizers that can produce the gas on small scale.

  • thucy

    What’s the full (or as full as we can know) story of our CIA involvement in Syria from post-WWII thru today?

  • commonsense1234

    It is pretty clear – we have to help get rid of the Assad regime ASAP. Or else more people will die, Jordan will be destabilized, and the Jihadists will take over. We need to put in a no-fly zone, cruise missile the chemical weapon sites. The Russians and the Iranians won’t do anything to stop our support for the FSA. Strategically, it will benefit US interests by getting rid of this regime. It will hurt Hezbollah, Iran and the Russian and reduce their power in the region.

  • EIDALM

    Chuck Hagel said today in Egypt that there is no prove that Syria used chemical weapon. Israel and their Likudnik Neocons are at again into dragging the U S into another war against Syria….After so many false flags operations by Israel like the USS Liberty and operation Suzzanah Israel should get no credibility at all.

    • thucy

      what is “Lukodenick”? do you mean likudnik?

    • EIDALM

      Yes thank you for the correction

  • commonsense1234

    Since we don’t know who will take over after Assad, it would be prudent for us to take out the chemical weapons sites so that nobody has them. Regarding Iran – it is waste of time to negotiate with Iran especially since ending the Assad regime is completely against their interests.

  • jim

    I think everybody seems to be assuming as an incontrovertible fact that if the Assad regime has used chemical weapons AT ALL, then they’ve crossed Obama’s “red line.” In his statement describing that red line, however, didn’t Obama refer to something like “substantial use,” rather than any use at all, in which case the alleged uses of chemical weapons so far can easily be characterized as testing “tweaks,” rather than a clear and unequivocal crossing of the red line. It boxex Obama unfairly not to address the flexibility that he intentionally build into his statement.

    • thucy

      I can’t disagree on the relative use issue. But all Presidents get “boxed in” – I am no fan of W. Bush, but post-9/11 one could easily argue that he was far more boxed in with regard to foreign policy.

      Was it “fair”? The issue is not whether geopolitics presents itself in a “fair” manner to any US President, but how effectively said President reacts. What concerns me is that both Bush and Obama supporters become too emtionally invested in “their guy” and refuse to ask for accountability or responsible leadership.

  • jim

    Further to the below message, one of the guests started to make exactly this point at the end of the program, but Michael cut him off with his oft-repeated (and wrong!) statement that the red line is “shifting”….as opposed to the truth, which is that Obama’s definition of the red line was intentionally flexible.

  • EIDALM

    Egypt will never become Islamic state for three reasons 1) Women in Egypt had more rights than most countries for the last thousands of years and they will never give that up. The 1919 Egyptian revolution was led by Egyptian women who brought a good government to Egypt and throw the British troops out of Cairo…2)Egyptians man and women love to enjoy their freedom and they will not accept any government that tells them how to dress or how to live, for example if you watch Egyptian movies made 1930’s ,1940’s ,and 1950’s you will see a degree of nudity in dancers and other characters that was enjoyed by all Egyptians.,You can see some of these movies and dances on my facebook page under M EID ABDALLAH. 3}For near 200 hundred years Egypt follows the French legal system.

  • EIDALM

    The old Egyptian flag till the 1950’s was green and had three stars, one represents Judaism ,one represents Christianity, and one represents Islam.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor