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article imageOp-Ed: Obama finds G-20 summit divided on Syria crisis

By Abdul Kuddus     Sep 5, 2013 in World
Saint Petersburg - The G-20 Summit involving twenty of the world’s biggest economies opened Thursday in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city.
While the summit traditionally focuses on economic issues, this year the Syrian crisis has reportedly shadowed other key issues in summit agenda.
Foreign ministers from the key nations in the G-20, which includes all five permanent UN Security Council members, will discuss Syria on the sidelines of the meeting, according to reports.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin remains the most vocal critic of Obama’s decision to launch a military strike in Syria. China too joined Russia in opposing a military strike against Bashar al-Assad.
Putin is expected to use the summit to talk Obama out of military action against Bashar al-Assad over the alleged Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack outside of Damascus.
While Putin does not have a one-on-one talk scheduled with Obama but he hopes to discuss Syria at a dinner with all the leaders.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi are also in St. Petersburg. They are looking ahead to build a consensus on holding an international peace conference on Syria, according to Reuters.
Reportedly, the first round at the summit went against Obama’s aspirations as Putin, China, the European Union and Pope Francis—in a letter to G-20 leaders –aligned themselves more against military action, Reuters reported.
Ahead of the summit, top officials from the European Union have already expressed inclination for a political solution to the Syrian war than a military confrontation.
So far France remains the only European nation that has pledged support to the possible US-led military strike on Syria.
European Union leaders, who are usually strong allies of the United States, seem unanimous in their opinion against a military solution to the Syrian conflict this time.
With Syria and Edward Snowden being the sore points, presidential ties between the Unites States and Russia are already at their weakest in decades.
There seems to be little chance of a breaking of ice between Putin and Obama, whose relations have soured following Edward Snowden’s asylum in Moscow.
In this setting, the G-20 summit will be the most closely watched as the world debates a potential military mission in Syria.
Moreover, in case of Syria, Putin strongly believes that rebel forces may have carried out the chemical gas attack in the Damascus suburbs.
Putin also said earlier that a military strike without Security Council approval would violate international law— a view which now seems increasingly supported by others nations.
Therefore, Obama just like he struggled to pursue lawmakers at home on Syria will have a daunting task in St. Petersburg to convince world leaders to get involved in yet another US-led military intervention in Middle East.
So far, Obama has had little success in enticing each nation for a military action in Syria.
Ironically, for Obama, the nation hosting the summit is also the entity that is steadfast on blocking Obama's attempts to build a cohesive international consensus on Syria.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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