WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama said Saturday he will ask the US Congress to authorise military action against Syria, lifting the threat of immediate strikes on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Addressing reporters in the Rose garden, Obama said he had decided he would go ahead and take military action on Syria but he believed it was important for American democracy to win the support of lawmakers.
The decision represents a significant gamble for Obama, who has an estranged relationship with lawmakers, especially Republicans, and he risks suffering the same fate as British Prime Minister David Cameron, who lost his own vote on authorising military action in parliament.
“I will seek authorisation for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress,” Obama said.
Obama said that Congressional leaders had agreed to schedule a debate as soon as lawmakers return from their summer break.
That is not due to take place until September 9. There was no immediate suggestion that the House of Representatives and the Senate would be called back into session early.
There had been growing expectations in Washington that military action could even happen as soon as this weekend, but Obama’s decision means that will now not happen.
Nevertheless, the president also said that he had decided that military force should be the price for what the United States says is the “undeniable” use of chemical weapons by Syria.
“Our military has positioned assets in the region,” Obama said.
“We are prepared to strike whenever we choose.”
Complete transcript of the speech can be found here.