In advance of a possible Western military strike, President Bashar Assad's forces appear to have evacuated most personnel from army and security command headquarters in central Damascus, residents and opposition sources said Wednesday.UPDATE # 1 ????????
Among the buildings that have been partially evacuated are the General Staff Command Building on Umayyad Square, the nearby air force command and the security compounds in the Western Kfar Souseh districts, residents of the area and a Free Syrian Army rebel source said.
More on the news of Syrians leaving Damascus
Residents of Damascus are fleeing the city, as well as other areas, for the nation's borders as the U.S. and its Western allies prepare possible military strikes over alleged chemical weapons attacks by the regime of Bashar Assad.
Pro-opposition website Kulna Shorkaa reported Syrian intelligence branches were moving documents to alternative locations, and the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said it evacuated 89 people including 75 Russians on Tuesday, with more expected to leave on Wednesday.
RE: oil prices
"Syria in terms of its oil output is relatively de minimis, but in the meantime should it escalate to something where Iran gets involved … [this could lead to] some kind of major supply disruption,"
"It's a bigger risk for Europe than it is for the U.S.," said Mark Luschini, CIO at Janney Montgomery Scott. "As Brent [crude] continues to move higher, that's the big issue—that Europe rolls back over again after we've seen a big rally in those markets in the last six-eight months. That could be a risk here."
Deja Vu: UN asking for more time....same as prior to the attack on Iraq
"Operation Restore Credibility" This is how Germany wants this attack sold
If it does come to a limited military strike without a UN mandate, Germany first of all should press the US and its allies to be honest about the rationale for and justification of any military action. In other words: state clearly and openly that this won't be a humanitarian intervention to protect civilians in Syria.
This would address misgivings voiced by human rights advocates like Kenneth Roth, the head of Human Rights Watch. Just today Roth asked on Twitter "US says it'll try to punish & deter Syria for chemical weapon use. But key is: will it better protect civilians?"
'Operation Restore Credibility'
The honest answer, however, is that the envisaged military action will not offer better protection for civilians in Syria. That's why "Operation Restore Credibility" would be a fitting code name for the coming airstrikes. It would make clear that protecting civilians is not the goal of this mission; protecting Obama's red line against the use of chemical weapons is.
Selling the mission instead under the broad "Responsibility to Protect" label would be disingenuous and hurt the legitimate cause of protecting civilians. While we are at it, we might also acknowledge that so far the international community has failed in its responsibility to protect Syrian civilians and try to draw lessons from our failure.
Berlin should also press Washington and London not to claim that an intervention without Security Council approval is covered by international law. It would be better to admit that the allies chose to act against the prevailing interpretation of international law due to exceptional circumstances. While this is a problematic argument in its own right, it's less pernicious than claiming that military action without a UN mandate is clearly legal.
No 'Kosovo model'
In addition, Germany should advocate against any loose talk of a "Kosovo model" for the Syrian intervention for the simple reason that there is no Kosovo model unless the West wants to actively pursue a partition of Syria and take responsibility for preventing human rights abuses carried out in its respective parts.
Instead, the US and its allies should use the air strikes to pursue a diplomatic solution to the Syrian civil war.
UPDATE # 2
UN Security Council permanent members fail to reach agreement on Syria
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council failed to reach an agreement Wednesday on a British-proposed resolution that would authorize the use of military force against Syria.
The draft resolution -- if it were to be put to a vote -- would almost certainly be vetoed by Russia and China, which have blocked past attempts to sanction President Bashar Assad's regime.
Britain put forth the proposal Wednesday as momentum seemed to be building among Western allies for a strike against Syria. U.S. officials, including Vice-President Joe Biden, have charged that Assad's government used deadly chemical weapons near Damascus last week.
The U.S. has not presented concrete proof, and UN inspectors currently in Syria to investigate alleged chemical attacks have not endorsed the allegations.