Washington Secrets

Obama turns Syria focus to measles, humanitarian crisis

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Health,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Syria,United Nations,Chemical Weapons,Bashar Assad

Satisfied that it has muted Syria’s chemical weapon arsenal, the administration is turning its focus on the humanitarian plight of families caught in the nation’s civil war zone and is demanding that the Assad regime let relief operations and doctors in.

U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power told reporters this week that the international community is worried about an outbreak of diseases in the war-torn nation which lacks doctors and a functioning health care system.

“We are seeing signs that the control of infectious diseases has been undermined. We are extremely concerned by apparent outbreaks of diseases including measles, meningitis and polio,” she said.

While the administration is replacing its concern about chemical weapons with the evolving humanitarian crisis in Syria, there is no indication yet that it will threaten military action if the nation doesn't let United Nations officials in.

However, in cheering Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s moves to dismantle his chemical weapons, Power and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this week credited the president’s threat of military action.

That cooperation, however, doesn’t lessen Washington’s desire for Assad to leave or give him a green light to starve and withhold medical assistance to his people.

“The chemical weapons agreement and implementation have not changed the U.S. position on Assad. A man who gasses his people —and who uses Scuds and all other forms of terror against his people — is not fit to govern those people,” said Power

“It remains the United States’ commitment,” she added, “to ensure that a red light for one type of weapon does not become a green light for others. Eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons is not a substitute for ending the violence engulfing the country.”

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.
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