Peter Macdiarmid
Hide Caption

Syria Q&A: Where does the world stand?

a a a a
Share this story

WASHINGTON — In advance of a national address Tuesday by the president, the White House ramped up its efforts Monday to convince Congress and the American people that an air strike on Syria is a necessary response to the Middle Eastern country's poison gas attack that killed 1,400.

But fresh polls and head counts of lawmakers showed opposition remains strong, even as a Russian offer to broker a deal in which Syria would surrender its chemical weapons added another layer of complexity to the biggest crisis of President Barack Obama's tenure.

Here's a question-and-answer look at some of the latest developments:

Q. How is the president preparing the country for making his case to retaliate against Syria?

A. The White House's press office has initiated a full-court press, making high-ranking national security officials available for on the record briefings to local television stations and regional newspaper reporters based in Washington, while the president himself agreed to sit down with six major networks on Monday to make his pitch.

The ongoing charm offensive is designed to rally the country behind what appears to be an increasingly unpopular position as an Associated Press poll Monday showed a majority of American opposed to a strike against Syrian targets.

Q. What kind of opposition has emerged to influence lawmakers?

A. The Capitol switchboard is overwhelmed with the volume of calls Congress is receiving with what are evidently mostly negative takes on the president’s request for authorization.

Meanwhile, self-described progressive groups, such as MoveOn.org, USAction and the Win Without War coalition have organized more than 160 Monday night candlelight vigils around the country to urge lawmakers to vote no on the authorization resolution.

Q. What kind of a head count, for and against, is the White House looking at on the eve of the president’s nationally televised address?

A. The Hill newspaper whip count indicates that 26 senators are likely to support the president and 20 are likely not to, while 54 remain on the fence, indicating Obama may get Senate approval.

In the House, 144 (including 109 Republicans) have indicated they’re likely to vote against him while only 31 are counted in the “yes or leaning yes” column, including just 21 Democrats. Ninety-two members of the House are either undecided or have made their intentions unclear. The Washington Post’s whip count showed 226 “no-leaning no” votes among House members. If that’s accurate and remains true, the resolution would fail. On Monday, Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander said he plans to vote against the measure, leaving Tennessee with a split in the Senate since fellow GOP Sen. Bob Corker favors the resolution.

Q. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings last week and then voted to authorize a strike. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that the full Senate will vote on it Wednesday. What has the House done in the run-up to an authorization vote?

A. Just back in town Monday after a five-week hiatus, the House Homeland Security Committee scheduled a hasty hearing for Tuesday morning with an underwhelming witness list: a former Connecticut congressman, a retired Army general, the senior fellow from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and a political scientist from nearby George Washington University.

Q. How is the United States likely to respond to Monday’s suggestion by the Russian foreign minister to broker a deal in which Syria surrenders its chemical weapons to international control?

A. Initial White House and State Department reaction was to treat the proposal as a stalling tactic on Syria’s part. State Department spokesman Marie Harf said it would be examined with “serious skepticism” since Syria has in the past refused to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile.

Q. How is Syria responding to the talk of a bombing raid?

A. Syrian President Bashar al Assad agreed to talk to CBS’s Charlie Rose in an interview broadcast Monday morning. Among Assad’s ominous observations: “If you strike somewhere, you have to expect the repercussions somewhere else in different forms.”
       

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More World News
Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions
Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions

Top diplomats from the United States, European Union, Russia and Ukraine reached agreement Thursday on immediate steps to ease the crisis in…

Pope washes feet of elderly, disabled in ritual
Pope washes feet of elderly, disabled in ritual

Pope Francis has washed the feet of 12 elderly and disabled people - women and non-Catholics among them - in a pre-Easter ritual designed to…

5 students among 9 dead in ferry sinking
5 students among 9 dead in ferry sinking

An immediate evacuation order was not issued for the ferry that sank off South Korea's southern coast, likely with scores of people…

290 missing, 6 dead in ferry disaster
290 missing, 6 dead in ferry disaster

A ferry carrying 462 people, mostly high school students on an overnight trip to a tourist island, sank off South Korea's southern coast…

Official says sub will be used in search for jet
Official says sub will be used in search for jet

Search crews will for the first time send a robotic submarine deep into the Indian Ocean on Monday to try to determine whether underwater…

Pistorius breaks down on stand in murder trial
Pistorius breaks down on stand in murder trial

The chief prosecutor in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius on Monday accused him of tailoring his version of how he killed his girlfriend to…

Ukraine, pro-Russia forces clash in gun battle
Ukraine, pro-Russia forces clash in gun battle

Ukrainian special forces exchanged gunfire with a pro-Russia militia in an eastern city Sunday, according to the interior minister.

Pings go silent, long hunt for missing jet looms
Pings go silent, long hunt for missing jet looms

After a week of optimism over four underwater signals believed to be coming from the missing Malaysian plane, the sea has gone quiet and…

Australia PM confident sounds are from jet
Australia PM confident sounds are from jet

With the Malaysian jetliner mystery now five weeks old, officials have narrowed the search zone for the missing plane and are "very…

Australian PM confident sounds are from MH370
Australian PM confident sounds are from MH370

Authorities are confident that signals detected deep in the Indian Ocean are from the missing Malaysian jet's black boxes,…