Hans Blix, the former UN weapons inspector tasked with finding Iraq’s WMD between 2000 and 2003, has warned Washington against launching military action in Syria, telling Obama the US is not the "world police".
In an interview with Global Viewpoint Network editor Nathan Gardels, published on HuffPost, Blix conceded that there were "indications" that chemical weapons had been used and that "circumstantial evidence points to the Assad regime carrying out the use of such weapons", however warned that Western powers should wait until the UN inspectors in Syria had made their report "before action is taken".
Citing parallels between the Obama administration and that of his predecessor, George W. Bush, Blix urged caution on Syria. Referring to Iraq, he said: "Then, too, the Americans and their allies asked for inspections for mass destruction weapons. Then, too, they said, ‘forget it, we have enough evidence on our own to act. We are the world police. Our publics are demanding immediate action!'"
On Obama, Blix said he was "heartened" by the President’s initial overtures towards "international legality", but admitted the "politics of the moment are pushing him in a direction we’ve seen before in the United States".
"British Prime Minister David Cameron also doesn't seem to care much about international legality. And this time, neither do the French," he added. "As far as they are all concerned, a criminal act has been committed so now they must engage in what they call ‘retaliation'."
On Tuesday, Cameron announced that MPs will be granted a vote this week on whether Britain should respond with force to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime against civilians.
He tweeted: "Speaker agrees my request to recall parliament on Thurs. There'll be a clear Govt motion & vote on UK response to chemical weapons attacks."
Parliament was due to return from its summer break on Monday. The urgent recall suggests the prime minister is keen to gain parliamentary approval for military action that could take place before then. The debate is expected to begin at 2.30pm with the vote being held around 10pm.
According to Reuters, envoys from the US have informed rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad that Syria would be attacked “within days”. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said US forces in the region were "ready to go" as Washington finalised plans to retaliate for the alleged chemical weapons attack last week that reportedly led to 355 deaths and more than 1,500 people being hospitalised.