U.S. Considers Closing Embassy in Damascus
The Obama administration is considering evacuating all personnel and closing down the U.S. embassy in Syria. Although a final decision has yet to be made, President Barack Obama has said the embassy could close within a few weeks unless the violence declines. The State Department released a statement that said “we have requested that the government of Syria take additional security measures to protect our embassy, and the Syrian government is considering that request. We have also advised the Syrian government that unless concrete steps are taken in the coming days we may have no choice but to close the mission.” The staff at the embassy was already cut down due to security concerns after a spike in violence close to the building. Officials have not specified the security terms they have requested from the Syrian government, but have voiced concerns over recent suicide car bombings that have raised the violence to another level. Officials also said they believe the attacks may be linked to al Qaeda militants, but nothing has been determined conclusively yet.
Meanwhile, following the conclusion of the Arab League monitors’ mission, there has been increased pressure to bring the situation in Syria to the United Nations Security Council. The Syrian National Council (SNC) has requested that “the Arab League refer the Syrian crisis to the U.N. Security Council, after Arab observers failed to end the bloodshed.” When asked about the opposing stances of Russia and China, a spokesperson for the SNC explained that once the situation is brought to the Security Council, the SNC believes all countries will have to adjust their opinions. However, despite the criticism and growing concern, the League’s Deputy Chief of Operations, Ali Jarush said he believes the mission could be extended by another month. “Everything indicates that the observer mission in Syria will be extended by a month,” he said. General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, the head of the mission, is scheduled to meet with foreign ministers in Cairo to discuss the next step.