In the face of statements by senior US officials that the Obama administration had crossed the Rubicon on military intervention in Syria, President Barack Obama declared early Thursday, Aug. 29, that he had not yet made a decision on whether to order a military strike against Syria. Although Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that US armed forces were “ready to go,” Obama said he was still examining options with his security team.
At the same time, the White House suddenly appeared Wednesday night to be engaging in maneuvers for buying time and holding up military action against Syria, after the armies of the Middle East and half of Europe were already standing ready after completing massive war preparations.
One such maneuver was a leak from White House sources about a delay in releasing to America and the world the promised evidence of Assad’s culpability in the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people. It was postponed because “the report was not yet ready.”
Although Obama appeared still to be standing by that decision, debkafile’s Washington and Moscow sources disclose he has applied the brakes on the momentum for its implemention to buy time for US Secretary of State John Kerry to wind up secret negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and strike a deal: The US would soften its military action against the Assad regime and his army and reduce it to a token blow, after which the American and Russian presidents would announce the convening of Geneva-2 to hammer out a solution of the Syrian crisis and end the civil war.
The Kerry-Lavrov back channel has not yet achieved results and so, Thursday, the fate of the US strike on Syria was still highly fluid and its timeline changeable.
Full article: Obama says no decision yet on strike on Syria. DEBKA: He stalls for deal with Putin on softened strike (DEBKAfile)