Liberman: Obama's credibility is at stake over Syria situation

Former FM says US's place as leading world power on line over reaction to chemical weapons use by Assad; says Israel could be dragged into conflict if US strikes, but Assad, Hezbollah understand consequences of involving Israel.

Avigdor Liberman 521 ok (photo credit: Reuters)
Avigdor Liberman 521 ok
(photo credit: Reuters)
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) said Tuesday that the US response to Syrian President Bashar Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons last week is a test of US President Barack Obama's credibility.
Speaking in an interview with Army Radio, Liberman said that "the region and the international community see the Syrian situation as a test for America's foreign policy and security stance."
Liberman said that the US upholding its "red lines" on the use of chemical weapons by Assad tests "both the personal credibility of Obama and of the entire US government."
The former foreign minister said that the United States' position as the world's leading super power and Washington's ability to influence world events would be judged by whether or not it strikes Syria.
Liberman said that, while Israel has no interest in becoming involved in Syria's civil war, a possible strike by the US and its allies against Assad could potentially "drag" Israel into the conflict.
"Hezbollah and Assad are not interested in a conflict with Israel. They understand the consequences of Israel entering the battlefield and beginning to play an active role," Liberman stated, adding that only "an extreme incident" would necessitate an Israeli response.
Liberman's comments came a day after National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror and an Israeli delegation met with his US counterpart Susan Rice in Washington.
The meetings were part of a series of regular high-level bilateral consultations and touched on Iran, Egypt, Syria, and other regional security issues, the White House said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry strongly suggested on Monday that an attack against Assad was in the offing.
A visibly angry Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that it was “undeniable” the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on a massive scale, and that US President Barack Obama would respond strongly.
Michael Wilner contributed to this report.