Timescale for attack now up in the air; Support for military action crumbling; Hezbollah deploys troops to border; EU urges Israel to show restraint; Assad uses diplomatic back channels to deny retaliation threatsÂ
Foreign intelligence sources have claimed that The White House is using the threat of military action in Syria as a bargaining chip to make a deal with Russia, while the media in Washington is beginning to question the certainty of an imminent strike.
Intel website DEBKAfile states that its sources in Washington and Moscow claim that Obama â€œhas applied the brakesâ€ on military strikes scheduled for Friday or Saturday while Secretary of State John Kerry completes secret negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The site notes that the US wants to â€œstrike a dealâ€ with Vladimir Putinâ€™s government:
â€œThe US would soften its military action against the Assad regime and his army and reduce it to a token blow,â€ the report states, â€œafter which the American and Russian presidents would announce the convening of Geneva-2 to hammer out a solution of the Syrian crisis and end the civil war.â€
The report notes that a delay in releasing a promised intelligence report to provide evidence of the Syrian governmentâ€™s culpability in chemical attacks, along with the Presidentâ€™s declaration this morning that he hasnâ€™t made his mind up yet, are covers for the ongoing back channel deal brokering.
Washington insiders have also suggested that Obamaâ€™s window for making a decision on any attack is rapidly closing because he is scheduled to travel to Europe next Wednesday for the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg.
â€œThe Kerry-Lavrov back channel has not yet achieved results and so, Thursday, the fate of the US strike on Syria was still highly fluid and its timeline changeable.â€ Debkafile reports.
Meanwhile, it seems that the mainstream media is beginning to doubt the veracity of US threats.
Guardian Washington correspondent Paul Lewis reports that he detects â€œa degree of uncertaintyâ€ creeping in against the assumption that the president is on the brink of launching military strikes â€œprobably this weekendâ€:
â€œThe problem facing White House is three-fold. First, its intelligence assessment, pinning culpability for the chemical weapons attack on Assad, may not be as watertight as many had been expecting. Second, and partly as a result of that, cracks are appearing in Congress, which is fully aware there is minimal support among the US electorate for strikes. Third and perhaps most interestingly is the lack of international support.â€ the Guardian reporter notes.
â€œMost of the experts Iâ€™ve spoken to today believe the US is still likely to forge ahead with limited strikes against Syria. But the speed at which they were moving toward that position may have been significantly reduced.â€ the reporter adds.
A British parliamentary revolt against military action, as well as widely circulated reports quoting inside sources saying that the intelligence does not provide a â€œsmoking gunâ€ or â€œslam dunkâ€ against Assad has also no doubt contributed to a delay in the timeline for striking Syria.
The Iranian Fars News Agency also reports that Vladimir Putin is convinced that the Syrian government has not used chemical weapons â€œsince they have been advancing in the war and did not need to do it.â€
In a phone conversation with Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, Putin is said to have stated â€ if US has any evidence to prove that Syria has used chemical weapons, as they claim, they should give their information to the UN inspectors.â€
Fars also reports that Syrian Deputy Foreign Fayssal Mekdad has today presented the UN team with undeniable proof that militants, not the Syrian army, had used the weapons.
Meanwhile, during a meeting with military leaders, Assad is said to be expecting a military strike, and has pledged â€œThis is a historic confrontation that we will come out of victorious.â€
â€œSince the beginning of the crisis, and we were sure that the moment will come when our real enemy knocks his head into our country intervening.â€ Syrian newspaper Al-Akhbar reports.
In Lebanon, government sources have said that Hezbollah has declared a state of alert among its cadres and started deploying troops to the southern border amid mounting expectations of a US strike on Syria.
It has been reported that officials in Europe have urged the Israeli government to â€œexercise restraint in case of an assault by Assad or other â€˜actorsâ€™ supporting him.â€
Over the past week various Syrian officials have stated that Israel would become a target should Syria be attacked. A report in Kuwaitâ€™s al-Rai newspaper, however, cites European Union officials who have said that Assad has â€œused diplomatic back channels to convey that he does not intend to attack Israel as this would lead the Syrian campaign to uncharted territory.â€
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jonesâ€™ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.