Syria has agreed to a Russian proposal that would place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control to be dismantled, according to Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moallem on Tuesday.
The agreement came after a rush of diplomatic actions focusing on avoiding a possible U.S. - led military strike in retaliation for an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus that left hundreds dead. The U.S. blamed the attack on the Syrian regime however Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied the claim.
The agreement, if followed, is a welcome development to the rest of the World which has been on pins and needles since the threat of military retaliation loomed. Secretary of State Kerry said on Monday that Syria could resolve the conflict by turning over their chemical weapons to the international community. President Obama said on Monday during an interview with ABC News Diane Sawyer that a military strike is “absolutely” on hold if Syria gives up its chemical weapons stockpile.
France, the only U.S. ally in the possible confict, has proposed a UN resolution that would call for military action against Syria if it did not comply with the agreement. One has to wonder what teeth the proposed resolution would have given the United Nations track record with Iraq when Saddam Hussein was violating a number of UN resolutions set forth after the Gulf war. The Russian proposal and acceptance by Syria may have the Obama administration breathing a sigh of relief, as the only ally willing to use military strikes against Syria was France. President Obama was facing mounting opposition from Congress and the American people on military strikes and would have probably had to initiate the strikes without congressional approval leaving him as the sole official having to answer for the responsibility for them. This is not a position Obama wanted to be in.
With the Assad regime and the Russians continually denying that the Syrian regime conducted the chemical weapons attacks and even suggesting that the rebels actually initiated the attack with their own chemical weapons it would be interesting to find out why, suddenly, the Russians proposed a deal that would remove and dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. After all, if Russia believed that the rebels possessed chemical weapons and conducted the attack why dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons.
This brings us to another question, what if anything will we do about the possibility of chemical weapons in the hands of the rebels? Do we allow them to continue to possess them and now possibly use them against the Assad regime after Syria’s chemical weapons are destroyed or do we tell the rebels that they could suffer the same fate as Assad if they choose to use their chemical weapons on Syria’s military or government?
For the time being anyway, this agreement may be the best thing that has happened for the Obama administration since his line in the sand comment some time ago before chemical weapons were deployed. Once the chemical weapons were deployed, presumably by the Assad regime, it backed Obama into a corner, having to do something to back up his threat to use military action against Syria. Obama then looked to congress for congressional approval of the strike which was a very smart move on his part. If congress approved the strike he would not bear the sole responsibility for it and if they disapproved he could explain his non-action on congress’s disapproval.
With the polls showing the American people overwhelmingly disapproved of a military strike against Syria, the British governement not supporting it and the French as the only ally on board Obama knew he was in an uphill battle on any plans to attack Syria.
Expect the Obama administration to take credit for the diplomacy if Syria follows through with the dismantling of its chemical weapons, when it was Russia, not exactly a staunch ally of the United States, that may have just saved face for President Obama.
Read more: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/talk-show-american/2013/sep/10/syria-agrees-dismantle-chemical-weapons/#ixzz2eXuVxXMy
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