The ripple effects of an alleged chemical attack in Syria are being felt across the globe. The rhetoric is ratcheting up with talk of punishing Syria, even though Syria denies using chemical weapons. Allies of President Bashar al-Assad accuse the rebel forces of carrying out the chemical strike.
Meanwhile rebel forces, who also deny responsibility for the strike, say 1,300 people died in the attacks on the outskirts of Damascus. CNN correspondents and experts explain the different positions of some key nations involved in preparing for -- or warning against -- international military attacks on Syria.
As the guarantor of international order the United States has to do something after the large scale use of chemical weapons, and the United States believes the Assad regime was responsible for the attacks.
But it faces something of a quandary. Launching the kind of large-scale campaign necessary to topple Assad would be lengthy and whoever replaces Assad could be even worse for U.S. interests than Assad himself, given the fact that the most successful opposition groups on the ground are aligned with al Qaeda.
So, the military intervention has to be large enough to punish Assad but not so large as to actually overthrow him. For U.S. policymakers this is the least bad decision they likely feel they can make.
It is a long-time ally of Syria and wants to keep its influence.
China says it is firmly opposed to the use of chemical weapons and supports the U.N. chemical weapons inspectors. It wants the inspectors to be able to do their job and has warned against prejudging the results.
It also says it wants peace and suggests continuing with the second Geneva Conference on Syria, an initiative that is currently in doubt.
"A political solution is always the only realistic means to resolve the Syria issue," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.
It doesn't want a repeat of Libya or Iraq.
Much has been said about Russia trying to protect the Syrian government because of its military and economic interests in the country but Russia's key policy goal is blocking American efforts to shape the region.
Russia doesn't believe revolutions, wars and regime change bring stability and democracy. It often points to the Arab Spring and the U.S.-led war in Iraq as evidence.
Russia also doesn't trust U.S. intentions in the region. It believes humanitarian concerns are often used an excuse for pursuing America's own political and economic interests.
Russia has maintained influence throughout the conflict by using its veto in the U.N. Security Council to shield Syria from international pressure. But it's unclear if the U.S. and its allies will rely on a U.N. mandate to launch any military strike.
For Iran, Syria is a strategically key ally
Iran's position, as outlined by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and new President Hassan Rouhani, is that the Syrian government is a victim of international plots.
Iran believes the West and almost all Arab countries are in cahoots in an effort to implement regime change in Syria. Iran says the main objective of this plot is to make the region safer for Israel.
Syria was also Iran's only Arab ally during its eight-year war with Iraq, and Syria together with the Hezbollah-controlled areas of Lebanon are considered to be Tehran's first line of defense in case of an attack on Iran by Israel or the West.
So, Iran's interest in Syria is motivated by its longtime friendship, as well as Syria's strategic importance for Tehran.
Wants a proportionate response to the alleged chemical attack.