San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica's Nobel Prize winner says U.S. intervention in Syria would be 'enormous mistake'

Former two-term Costa Rican President Oscar Arias(1986-1990 and 2006-2010) had strong words for his fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner United States President Barack Obama on Thursday: U.S. intervention in Syria’s civil war would be an “enormous mistake,” the former president posted on his Facebook page.

“It seems inconceivable to me that President Obama, Nobel Peace Prize winner, would be open to following the steps of ex-President [George W.] Bush. Bombing Syria from ships in the Mediterranean implies the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, boys and girls,” the former leader wrote.

Bashar al-Assad’s regime allegedly used chemical weapons in an attack that killed 1,429 people in a suburb of the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Aug. 21. Obama previously said that the use of chemical weapons in the Middle Eastern country’s civil war was a “red line” that would trigger a response from the U.S.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry issued a statement denying the charges, claiming that the evidence from a U.S. intelligence report was “fabricated.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry went to pains in his comments Friday to distance any possible military action from the previous decade of U.S. military intervention in the Middle East and South Asia.  

Any actions in Syria “will bear no resemblance to Afghanistan, Iraq, or even Libya,” Kerry said Friday, according to a speech provided by the State Department.

“That 10 years after the invasion of Iraq Washington would want, unilaterally, once again, to deal a few blows to the dictatorial and criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad to weaken it, knowing full and well that this will not topple the government, does not seem like the best path to follow,” added Arias.

The British Parliament voted down Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposal for military action Thursday. French President Francois Hollande, however, remained supportive of taking action against the Syrian regime alongside the United States.

On Friday, both countries issued statements saying that they wanted to send a “strong message” to the Syrian regime.

NBC News reported Friday that eight in 10 U.S. citizens want Obama to pursue congressional approval for any act of force against the Assad regime, according to a news poll from the network. Half of those surveyed said they do not think the U.S. should attack Syria following the suspected chemical attack.

Arias closed his post by calling for a multilateral approach to confronting “despotic and bloody” regimes.

AFP contributed to this story. 

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