“The Syrian regime has crossed all the lines with its tyranny. … It’s time for us to ask International community to carry its responsibility and put an end to this tragedy that is entering its third year,” Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said at a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo.
“The Syrian regime has lost its legitimacy within the Arab world and internationally,” he said.
The Saudi stance came as the Obama administration pushed forward Sunday on a new path toward military action in Syria, urging Congress to support the president’s call.
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A “NO” vote from Congress would ‘save face.’
Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday accused Syria of using chemical weapons against its people, and U.S. officials told NBC News that they would release intelligence evidence to prepare the public for a possible military response.
President Barack Obama hasn’t made any decision on whether wage strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Monday. But other U.S. officials told NBC News that the administration could begin laying the groundwork by disclosing the evidence as early as Tuesday.
The officials said an attack isn’t imminent, because it will take time to make all the information public, and preparations must be coordinated with allies including Britain, France and Turkey. The U.S. is also unlikely to attack while a U.N. weapons team remains in Syria — and it isn’t scheduled to leave until Sunday.
The officials reiterated that any military action would be limited and not targeted at Assad because its goal would be to respond to the use of chemical weapons. Targets would be command and control bunkers, airfields and artillery.
BEIRUT The Syrian opposition said Wednesday that state security forces had launched intense artillery and rocket barrages on the eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus, claiming that hundreds of people died in what was being called a “poisonous gas” attack.
The attack coincided with the visit by a 20-member U.N. chemical weapons team to Syria to investigate three sites where chemical weapons attacks allegedly occurred during the past year. Their presence raises questions about why the regime – which called the claims of the attack Wednesday “absolutely baseless” – would use chemical agents at this time.
In a statement, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said the U.S. is deeply concerned by reports chemical weapons use in Syria, and that the Obama administration is “working urgently to gather additional information.
“If the Syrian government has nothing to hide and is truly committed to an impartial and credible investigation of chemical weapons use in Syria, it will facilitate the U.N. team’s immediate and unfettered access to this site,” Earnest said.
HOW CAN RUSSIA SUPPORT USING CHEMICAL WEAPONS?
What do you think? Should we suspend foreign aid to Egypt?
By Frank Luba
VANCOUVER — Activist and actor George Takei, best known as helmsman Lt. Sulu in the original Star Trek series, is boldly going where tens of thousands have gone before, denouncing Russia’s anti-gay laws, calling instead for the 2014 Games to move to Vancouver from Sochi.
He’s the latest celebrity to weigh in on the Olympic controversy, endorsing a petition at Change.org that had garnered more than 55,000 supporters by Wednesday afternoon.
Russia “intends to enforce its laws against visiting LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) athletes, trainers and fans, meaning anyone even so much as waving a rainbow flag (and I presume many men enthusiastically watching and dramatically commenting on figure skating) would be arrested, held for weeks and then deported,” he wrote in a blog post posted Tuesday.
Takei noted Vancouver’s facilities are still in good condition and the city would be the easiest of possible alternatives. Moving the Games, he said, would be much better than a boycott — one of the options touted by some activists.
“A boycott of the games would punish athletes who have trained for years to participate, and a boycott of Russian vodka isn’t going to affect the kind of change needed,” he wrote.
Pop star Lady Gaga is speaking out on Twitter against the anti-LGBT violence in Russia and the country’s ban on gay activism.
Activists around the world have been pressing the international community to help stop Russia’s anti-LGBT laws that prohibit the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.” Under the law, promoting gay pride or speeches, kissing or holding hands in public, or even being suspected of being gay could mean jail time for both citizens and tourists.
In messages posted to her feed Monday, Lady Gaga offered her support to gay and lesbian Russians.
Protesters pour out vodka over anti-gay Russian laws
DON’T FORGET TO SIGN PETITION
[See Link Earlier in Post]
By James Nichols
Despite assurance by the International Olympic Committee July 26 that attendees of the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi would not be held under the jurisdiction of Russia’s anti-gay legislation, the law’s co-sponsor is now articulating a different set of circumstances. Vitaly Milonov, the politician responsible for the “gay propaganda” ban in St. Petersburg later adopted by the country as a whole, claims that the law cannot be selectively enforced nor suspended.
In an interview with Interfax, Milonov stated:
I haven’t heard any comments from the government of the Russian Federation, but I know that it is acting in accordance with Russian law. And if a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it. It doesn’t have the authority.
In effect, it seems as if foreign athletes and spectators at the 2014 Olympic Games will, in fact, be subject to the legalities of Russia’s recent stream of anti-LGBT legislation. Signed into law by President Vladimir Putin on June 30, the legislation gives the Russian government agency to detain gay or “pro-gay” foreigners up to 14 days before facing expulsion from the country.
Perhaps most disturbing out of this recent interview with Milonov is the claim that he has “spoken with many American politicians” and that “they support the stance I’ve taken on this issue.” He also cites support from German legislators surrounding the anti-gay crackdown.
NBC NEWS/ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES
“Who am I to judge?” —Pope Francis