A report Monday said that the reason U.S. President Barack H. Obama effectively delayed the threatened American response to the recent chemical attack by Bashar al-Assad's forces was to give the diplomatic process a chance – and to bring Russia on board with the efforts to force Assad to give up his chemical weapons.
The Kuwaiti report said that Obama was consulting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on ways to persuade Assad to step down from his position without the need to resort to force. Russia sees Syria as a patron state, and has threatened to “take action” if the U.S. or other Western powers attack Syria.
American officials have been concerned over the negative effect of the delay. On Sunday, Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister, Kadri Jamil, mocked Obama, saying that the U.S. “was defeated before the war began.” America’s “muddled” position on airstrikes “has made a mockery of the U.S. administration all over the world,” he said, adding, “previous administrations never cared about public opinion, Congress or allies.”
The U.S. has sent several warships and even a nuclear submarine to the Mediterranean, in apparent preparation for an attack on Syria, and Russia has sent its own warships to the region.
According to the report, Obama told aides last weekend that the delay would give him time to persuade other leaders, including Putin, on the importance of taking action. Obama is set to travel to Russia this week for the G20 Economic Forum Leader's Summit, set to take place in St. Petersburg. Sources said that it was likely Obama and Putin would meet on the sidelines of the event to discuss the Syrian situation.