Protests in U.S., Canada; Syrian Parliament urges Congress to vote ‘no’

As anti-war protests gathered steam and war weariness gripped

the U.S., the momentum for a military strike on Syria seemed to be receding. Syria, meanwhile, sought support from U.S. congressmen to stem the tide for an armed intervention.

The hardening anti-war mood in the U.S. and North America has begun to acquire high visibility ahead of the commencement of Monday’s congressional session, which is to decide on President Barack Obama’s call for an armed intervention in the form of limited but effective military strikes to punish Syria for allegedly killing hundreds of people by using sarin gas in the outskirts of Damascus on August 21.

On Saturday, protesters made their presence felt outside the White House in Washington, as well as in New York, Indianapolis, Louisiana and Michigan — their wide geographical footprint also covering Toronto and Ottawa in neighbouring Canada.

The Catholic Church also spoke out firmly against an intervention. Separately, during the summit of the G20 grouping hosted by Russia, President Vladimir Putin also pointed out at a news conference that “the overwhelming majority” of the world population opposed an intervention.

Lobbying blitz

Aware of the plummeting public support for an attack, which could result in a resounding and embarrassing defeat in the Congress, the Obama administration has embarked on a lobbying blitz to get the required numbers in Congress. The New York Times reported that Mr. Obama would deliver a public address on Tuesday to seek support. Also, his interviews with six news channels — ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS and CNN — will be aired on Monday.

Besides, the Israeli lobby led by the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is not pulling its punches either. Around 250 AIPAC advocates are expected to descend on Capitol Hill to persuade lawmakers to back a strike — a move that is being coordinated with Mr. Obama’s address.

Yet, the Herculean effort that is being mounted by the establishment may prove insufficient to muster the required support. Former Congressman Ron Paul — an influential public figure — said Mr. Obama could be staring at a “historic” defeat in Congress, reflecting the quiet churning that American polity is undergoing. With the U.S. Congress becoming the focal point, Syrian parliamentarians have appealed to their American counterparts to stop the administration in its tracks.

“We urge you not to take reckless measures as you have the power to steer the United States from the path of war to that of diplomacy,” SANA quoted Parliament’s Speaker Jihad al-Lahan as saying.

In tandem, Syria’s top ally Iran has accelerated diplomacy to prevent an American intervention. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is heading for Moscow on Monday for talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.