A raucous debate erupted at the UN Security Council over the use of poison gas on civilians in Syria, at times getting derailed over old gripes and petty swipes. “This is a renewed effort to bring chemical weapons back into the mainstream,” Nikki Haley told the press before the meeting, adding, “and we can’t let that happen.” During the UNSC meeting, Haley blasted attempts to shift blame for Bashar al-Assad’s war crimes, openly scoffing at the suggestion that anyone else was responsible or that it never happened:
Haley on Syria attack: "We know who did this. Our allies know who did this. Russia can complain all it wants about fake news, but no one is buying its lies and its cover ups. Russia was supposed to guarantee that Assad wouldn’t use chemical weapons, and Russia did the opposite." pic.twitter.com/Z3H18ycgs8
— NBC News (@NBCNews) April 13, 2018
Haley had a few words to say about that guarantee, too. After Russia stepped into the vacuum left by the lack of action against Assad in 2013, Moscow assured Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State John Kerry that all of Assad’s stores of chemical weapons had been accounted for and either destroyed or secured. So, Haley asked, how did Assad still have chlorine and nerve gas to drop on Douma?
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 13, 2018
What will the US do in response? Haley played coy on that matter, but said that any action will be taken as part of broad alliance to enforce bans on the use of chemical weapons. Russia, Haley accused, has stood by while Assad has conducted “at least 50” chemical weapons attacks, and the time to take action is now:
According to Haley, President Trump has not yet decided whether to respond to the recent attacks in Syria militarily. However, she said if the U.S. and its allies “decide to act in Syria, it will be in defense of a principle on which we all agree.”
Haley said that the U.S. believes that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in that nation’s civil war “at least 50 times.”
“[W]e know who did this. Our allies know who did this. Russia can complain all it wants about fake news, but no one is buying its lies and cover-ups,” Haley said.
“It is those who act to violate the prohibition on chemical weapons who deserve our condemnation,” Haley said in conclusion. “Those who act to defend it deserve our support. The United States and our allies will continue to stand up for truth, accountability, justice, and an end to the use of chemical weapons.”
In other words, Trump will likely act soon. Russia will veto any hope of action at the UNSC, and both France and the UK are already threatening action of their own. Russia had suggested yesterday that it might tolerate a limited response as long as it doesn’t cause any Russian casualties. We’ll see just how limited they will insist a reprisal should be.
Unfortunately, the UNSC debate got derailed a bit over other issues. Kuwait criticized the panel for not putting their focus on Gaza, while Bolivia complained about the US’ history of backing coups d’etat. Hugh Hewitt was less than impressed:
The Bolivian ambassador is lecturing the French ambassador about the French Revolution and the UK ambassador about Magna Carta. Surreal.
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) April 13, 2018
What did the Russians have to say for themselves? You can probably guess, but Taylor Millard will have more in the next post.