Will UN chemical weapons inspectors investigate the use of chemical weapons near Damascus?
Exactly a year ago, President Barack Obama declared that if Syria’s regime were to unleash its chemical weapons - or even move them - America’s “red line” would be crossed and the whole “calculus” would change.
If hundreds of people were indeed gassed near Damascus yesterday, President Bashar al-Assad will have marked the first anniversary of that warning by stepping straight over Mr Obama’s “red line”.
Last month, William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, told the foreign affairs select committee: “I believe that the Assad regime, given the pattern of events, has at some stage over the last six months or a year given authority for the use of chemical weapons in a small-scale, localised way.”
Well, if the latest reports are true, Mr Assad has now used gas on a bigger scale than anyone else since Saddam Hussein. If so, he is not so much testing America’s “red line” as ignoring it completely and daring his enemies to do their worst.
As Senator John McCain observed, Mr Assad has suffered “no consequence” for using chemical weapons in the past, so “we shouldn’t be surprised he’s using them again”.
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