As the White House signaled that it would prioritize diplomacy over military action in addressing the tension in Syria, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that the Indonesian military was ready to be deployed if the UN needed help monitoring the non-violent political processes.
“If a cease-fire is agreed to by the UN and international communities as part of the solution for Syria, Indonesia is ready to send its best troops for the peace-keeping mission,” Yudhoyono said during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
“I have asked Foreign Minister [Marty Natalegawa] to monitor the development and keep updating me,” the President added.
Indonesia has offered the so-called “middle-way”, an alternative solution against the two poles: US military action and the Russia-backed Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. Yudhoyono said he had conveyed his idea when he met with state leaders during the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, last week.
“But this middle-way seemed less attractive because both sides have been thinking about their own political options,” the President said.
Over past few days, Yudhoyono has been sending letters to like-minded nations as well as all members of the UN Security Council, to seek an alternative solution amid the opacity of the UN’s diplomatic efforts.
“This is not about supporting or not supporting the US’ planned military efforts. While the world can avoid being split or more polarized, why don’t we talk and seek non-military approaches?” presidential spokesman for foreign affairs Teuku Faizasyah said.
In Washington, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough told Democratic members of the US House of Representatives on Tuesday that diplomacy was the priority on Syria now, US Representative Gene Green said, Reuters reported
“We’re going to wait and see how this offering for securing Syria’s chemical-weapons arsenal plays out”, Green told Reuters as he left a briefing by McDonough for House Democrats.
US President Barack Obama was going to Congress on Tuesday with fresh hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough that would allow Syria’s government to avoid US missile strikes if it surrendered its chemical weapon arsenal. He will address the nation from the White House on Tuesday night.
Obama had planned to use his meetings to lobby for targeted strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in retaliation for last month’s deadly chemical weapons attack outside Damascus. Instead, he signaled in several interviews on Monday evening that new diplomacy involving Russia and others could eliminate the risk of another chemical attack without an American intervention.
Syria’s foreign minister on Tuesday said the country had accepted Russia’s proposal to place its chemical weapons under international control for dismantling. The proposal emerged on Monday after a comment from Secretary of State John Kerry was taken up by Russia, and the United Nations expressed support.