In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama has condemned a range of groups:
Peaceful protests against an authoritarian regime were met with repression and slaughter. In the face of carnage, many retreated to their sectarian identity – Alawite and Sunni; Christian and Kurd – and the situation spiraled into civil war. The international community recognized the stakes early on, but our response has not matched the scale of the challenge. Aid cannot keep pace with the suffering of the wounded and displaced. A peace process is still-born. America and others have worked to bolster the moderate opposition, but extremist groups have still taken root to exploit the crisis. Assad’s traditional allies have propped him up, citing principles of sovereignty to shield his regime. And on August 21st, the regime used chemical weapons in an attack that killed more than 1,000 people, including hundreds of children.
Beyond his rhetoric, Obama limited his substantive remarks to “the international community must enforce the ban on chemical weapons”, invoking “memories of soldiers suffocated in the trenches; Jews slaughtered in gas chambers; and Iranians poisoned in the many tens of thousands” as he repeated that “the evidence is overwhelming that the Assad regime used such weapons on August 21st”:
There must be a strong Security Council Resolution to verify that the Assad regime is keeping its commitments, and there must be consequences if they fail to do so. If we cannot agree even on this, then it will show that the U.N. is incapable of enforcing the most basic of international laws. On the other hand, if we succeed, it will send a powerful message that the use of chemical weapons has no place in the 21st century, and that this body means what it says.
Obama then called for “a larger diplomatic effort to reach a political settlement within Syria” — withoout giving any details of such a settlement, such as whether President Assad would retain power — and more humanitarian aid. He did not refer to the Assad regime’s use of conventional weapons, including bombs, missiles, and rockets.
The President complained about criticism of Washington’s handling of the crisis:
The United States is chastised for meddling in the region, and accused of having a hand in all manner of conspiracy; at the same time, the United States is blamed for failing to do enough to solve the region’s problems, and for showing indifference toward suffering Muslim populations.