Middle East fears escalation in Syria-U.S. faceoff

Aug. 25, 2013 at 12:53 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- A former senior diplomat from the Middle East Sunday urged the United Nations to take the lead in the international response to chemical weapons in Syria.

Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister and head of the Arab League, said the Middle East could not afford another major war and that even a nominal military strike against Syria could spiral out of control.

"It always starts like that, limited strike, and then it widens, and grows and grows and grows, and then the whole region would be involved," Moussa cautioned on ABC's "This Week."

"Any possible use of chemical weapons should be condemned," said Moussa. "But we need also a position taken by the Security Council. The Security Council should address this issue of the use of chemical weapons or the use of weapons of mass destruction that should be underlined in the Security Council before any action."

The Aug. 21 incident in which Syrian forces allegedly fired chemical weapons into a Damascus suburb, causing several hundred casualties, raised the possibility of a limited U.S. military strike.

Steven Ganyard, a former Marine Corps colonel and undersecretary of state, told ABC there was indeed a risk of a nominal U.S. attack escalating into a larger confrontation if it did not deter President Bashar Assad from future chemical attacks.

"Worst case," Ganyard said," he [Assad] would shrug off the attack, and it would precipitate follow-on military attacks and perhaps drag us into a larger Middle East conflict, which is something that the White House seems quite keen to avoid."

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