A recent report from the Central Intelligence Agency has convinced the Obama administration that the Bashar al-Assad regime has engaged the Syrian rebels with chemical weapons on a number of occasions. France was the first country to declare that this was the case, but the fact that the United States is now convinced will certainly change the shape of Syria's ongoing civil war. President Barack Obama has repeatedly said that the use of such weapons was the "red line" that Bashar al-Assad of Syria could not cross without repercussions and a more active role from the United States. Barack Obama as a second-term president needn't worry about re-election, but will certainly be looking at his legacy as his word is tested.
In a news' week dominated by the NSA Spy "Scandal," it's not a stretch to believe that the Obama administration, though divided about Syria, will not waste time flexing the United States' military muscle.
Bashar al-Assad Regains Upper Hand
In recent weeks, the rebels have suffered a number of defeats by forces of Bashar al-Assad that could leave supplying them with lethal support, that many have been calling for months, near toothless. Or at least too little, too late.
As a number of these chemical weapon strikes were launched by air, it's becoming more likely that the United States will strike at Syrian airfields with cruise missiles in the coming days. As John McCain said on the Senate floor recently, this would not endanger United States' service personnel but could crater airfields that are not only being used to launch chemical strikes, but also ferry troops about the country while receiving incoming aid from Iran.
Bashar al-Assad Chemical Weapons Use and Iraq
There is little question that the Obama administration has been reluctant to become engaged militarily in the region following the most recent war in Iraq as well as ongoing efforts in Afghanistan. This reluctance, and the policy behind it has left the United States on the sidelines when it comes to the training and supply of Syrian rebel factions.
The forensic evidence presented in the CIA report will not only make it more difficult for the United States to not get involved, but may lead to a worldwide outcry for them to do something soon.
Perhaps based on guilt for his inaction in Bosnia, Bill Clinton is even on board. The United Nations reported this week that no less than 93,000 thousand people have perished in Syria since the conflict began. This estimate is largely believed to be well on the low side.
Speaking on Tuesday at a private session in New York with Mr. McCain, Mr. Bill Clinton said, “Sometimes it’s best to get caught trying, as long as you don’t overcommit.”
While the Obama White House will not allow former presidents to dictate foreign policy, don't be surprised if Obama acts soon in the belief that Bashar al-Assad has finally gone too far.