- Title: SAUDI ARABIA: Riyadh residents divided on probable military strike in Syria
- Date: 28th August 2013
- Summary: RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (AUGUST 28, 2013) (REUTERS) HEADLINE OF THE SAUDI NEWSPAPER AL-WATAN READING (Arabic): 'Assad`s end has approached' HEADLINE OF THE SAUDI NEWSPAPER ASHARQ AL-AWSAT READING (Arabic): 'Strike on Syria is close' VARIOUS OF ARRIYADH NEWSPAPER READING (Arabic): 'Saud al-Faisal: The Syrian regime has lost its Arab identity'
- Embargoed: 12th September 2013 13:00
- Location: Saudi Arabia
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: Conflict,Defence / Military
- Reuters ID: LVA2L6C22L5YI2BNK4GO216FI7XR
- Story Text: The United Nations Security Council was set for a showdown over Syria on Wednesday (August 28) as Britain sought authorisation for Western military action that Russia called premature and seemed certain to block.
U.N. chemical weapons experts investigating a gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus made a second trip over the front line to take samples.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pleaded for them to be given time to complete their mission and a U.N. official said there was some friction with impatient Western governments which show little interest in waiting for the inspectors' report.
The United States and European and Middle Eastern allies have already pinned the blame on President Bashar al-Assad's forces and a senior U.S. official said planning was under way for possibly several days of attacks by several countries.
While evidence of chemical warfare could bolster an argument for intervention at the United Nations in the face of likely Russian and Chinese opposition, Western leaders and the Arab League have already declared Assad guilty.
Residents in the streets of the Saudi capital Riyadh expressed mixed reactions about the probable military strike.
Some said said the strike was the only option left.
"No one likes to see his country being attacked, but we're forced into this because the alternative is worse. We wish the best for Syria," said Tariq, a Syrian who now lives in Riyadh.
"We are hopeful that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar and the GCC Council will support the Free Syrian Army with money and weapons and, God willing, the Free Syrian Army will achieve victory without the intervention of the United States or any other country," said Saudi citizen Fahad Al Murairi.
Saudi Arabia, a foe of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Qatar have been the most active Arab nations in backing the mostly Sunni Muslim Syrian rebels.
Saudi Arabia has urged the European Union in June to arm Syrian rebels without delay, following similar action by the United States.
Saudi citizen Omar Abo Suliman said he supports the foreign intervention.
"I honestly support the intervention in Syria because it will stop Bashar al-Assad from attacking his people with chemical bombing and I hope they intervene in a good way," he said.
Others opposed the move.
"I am against the West's intervention in Syria and I believe that the best solution is that Arabs resolve the problems in Syria in a better way and we call on God to help them in Syria," said Saudi citizen Faisal Abo Suliman.
"We completely reject the Western intervention in the affairs of Syria or in the private affairs of other countries, I think that if the Arab countries meet and unite, they would be able to solve their own problems and they wouldn't need any Western intervention," said Egyptian citizen Ahmed.
The U.S.-led NATO alliance said evidence pointed to Assad's forces having used gas, calling it a threat to global security.
Russia, however, has said rebels may have used gas.
Ban pleaded for unity in the Security Council after more than two years of paralysis during which Syria's civil war has split the Middle East on sectarian lines and fuelled rival camps in the world body along divisions that echo the Cold War.
Ban's special envoy for Syria, Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, said "international law is clear" in requiring Council authorisation for any military action. But Western leaders have made clear they are ready to act without it, citing precedents for foreign intervention to protect civilians.
It remains unclear how definitive may be any evidence found by the U.N. experts, who arrived in Damascus 10 days ago to look into earlier, smaller instances of poisoning. Many toxins decay quickly and it may be hard to say which side released them.
There was tension behind the scenes between United Nations officials and Western governments. One U.N. official said: "The U.N. is annoyed and feels the Western powers haven't shared data or evidence with them, which is a problem.
As long as the U.N. team is in Syria, Western action is less likely - making the presence of the investigators led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom a key element in the timing of attacks, expected to be limited to a few days.
Strikes, expected to involve cruise missiles fired by U.S. ships in the Mediterranean, are also unlikely before Obama has a U.S. intelligence report on the Aug. 21 gas attack. Its conclusions, however, are scarcely in doubt.
Cameron will give the British parliament an opportunity to be seen to support his policy in a debate scheduled for Thursday. Like the United States, Britain has warships in the Mediterranean. It also has an air base on Cyprus, 200 km (120 miles) from the Syrian coast.
The British government is not obliged to hold a parliamentary vote, but with the public wary of new military entanglements after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cameron will want to show that he has broad backing. A YouGov poll published on Wednesday showed 50 percent of the British public opposed a missile strike, with just 25 percent in favour.
The French parliament was also recalled on Wednesday, but only for a session set for next Wednesday, Sept. 4.
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