Senate delays test vote on Syria intervention

A United Satates military ship.
September 9, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
On the eve of President Barack Obama's address to the nation on Syria, there is a possible breakthrough on the crisis. The White House says it will consider a proposal that could put off a military strike.

Obama and Syria's foreign minister are embracing a proposal that Russia came up with. It calls for Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control.

In an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, Obama said while the proposal put forth by the Russians appears promising, the threat of military action against Syria needs to stay on the table.

"I don't think we would have gotten to this point unless we had maintained a credible possibility of a military strike," said Obama.

These latest developments came as support in Congress for a resolution authorizing force was slipping. Monday night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he's postponing the vote that was planned for Wednesday.

All of this is good news for the dozens of protesters who gathered outside the federal building in San Francisco. This was one of nearly 200 demonstrations across the country aimed at putting pressure on lawmakers.

"We're barely out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and now we're planning to bomb to smithereens yet another Middle East country? That's wrong," said Rick Hauptman, the protest event organizer.

The president hopes to convince the American public otherwise in a nationally televised address on Tuesday. Janine Zacharia is a guest lecturer at Stanford and a former Middle East correspondent for the Washington Post. She says the clock for Obama to make his case is ticking.

"Right now everyone's talking about Syria. 'Are we going to strike? Should we strike? 1400 dead.' If you wait six months are you going to have a chance of convincing the American public of a necessity?" said Zacharia.

The president has his work cut out for him. An ABC News-Washington post poll says nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose military action against Syria.

The president's address will air on ABC7 at 6 p.m. PT, on Tuesday.

US weighs talk of Syria dumping chemical weapons

U.S. officials say they will take a "hard look" at a proposal for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons to international control to avoid a military strike.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Monday the U.S. would consider the proposal floated by the foreign ministers of Russia and Syria with "serious skepticism" because it might be a stalling tactic. She said Syria had consistently refused to destroy its chemical weapons in the past.

The proposal came after Secretary of State John Kerry said in London on Monday that Syrian President Bashar Assad could end the crisis by turning over all his chemical weapons. Harf said Kerry wasn't putting forth a formal proposal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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