WSJ: Elite Syrian unit has scattered Assad’s chemical stockpile among as many as 50 different sites

posted at 11:21 am on September 13, 2013 by Allahpundit

Buried deep in the article, in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fashion, is the fact that they began doing this roughly a year ago. Coincidentally, it was also roughly a year ago that President Bumblefark idly floated the idea of a “red line” for Syria’s WMD at a White House presser. Rather than keep his cards close to his vest for strategic reasons, he chose to try to intimidate Assad into not using gas. Assad responded logically enough by dispersing his weapons and now here we are, with the task of going in and grabbing them much more complex than it might otherwise have been.

You would have thought Obama might have learned his lesson about this from Pakistan, which has for years engaged in the insane practice of constantly moving its nuclear weapons around the country for fear that the U.S. will launch a surprise raid to confiscate them. If a rogue power has reason to think America has designs on its WMD, it’s going to take evasive action. And that evasive action is itself hugely dangerous, of course, insofar as having nuclear or chemical weapons in transit increases the risk of jihadis grabbing them via an accident or a surprise raid of their own. So, all in all, excellent work here, champ.

That said, this passage is a perfect distillation of why the U.S. has so few options in Syria. The only thing worse than not having murderous Shiite thugs in charge of poison gas is … not having them in charge:

The movements, activities and base locations of Unit 450 are so sensitive that the U.S. won’t share information with even trusted allies in the opposition for fear the unit would be overrun by rebels, said current and former U.S. officials.

The U.S. wants any military strikes in Syria to send a message to the heads of Unit 450 that there is a steep price for following orders to use chemical weapons, U.S. officials said.

At the same time, the U.S. doesn’t want any strike to destabilize the unit so much that it loses control of its chemical weapons, giving rebels a chance to seize the arsenal.

“Attacking Unit 450, assuming we have any idea where they actually are, would be a pretty tricky affair because…if you attack them you may reduce the security of their weapons, which is something we certainly don’t want,” said Jeffrey White, a veteran of the Defense Intelligence Agency and a defense fellow at The Washington Institute.

We trust our own de facto allies there to be responsible stewards of chemical weapons less than we trust the people we’re thinking of bombing. Plus, we need Unit 450 in place in the unlikely event that UN negotiations eventually lead to some half-assed attempt to disarm Assad. If we liquidate the unit from the air, there’s no one left on the ground to guide UN inspectors to the stockpiles.

In fact, according to the Russian plan leaked to Time magazine, sounds like Unit 450 is sort of expected to … disarm itself:

According to the Russian diplomat Alexei Pushkov, who discussed the outlines of the proposal with TIME, it includes several complicated phases and gives Syria a leading role in the destruction of its own chemical arsenal. The American side, meanwhile, has one trump card in these negotiations — the threat of a military strike against Syria. But Russia seems ready to call that a bluff. “If the US wants to play the main fiddle here, let them go ahead and occupy Syria like they did Iraq or destroy it from the air like they did in Libya,” says Pushkov, who is the chairman of the foreign affairs committee of Russia’s parliament, the State Duma. “Those are their only two options for taking the lead at this point.”…

Pushkov, however, said that by the time the inspectors arrive at the chemical weapons sites inside Syria, the question of their destruction will become practically irrelevant. “If we are to believe President Obama, the main goal in all of this is to prevent the use of these chemical weapons,” he says. “After the inspectors arrive in Syria and start working at places where the chemical weapons are stored, it will already be practically impossible to use them.” Pushkov would not elaborate on whether the Russian plan call specifically for their destruction, nor did he offer a clear time frame within which the process could take place.

So Syria’s going to let its arsenal be neutralized somehow but maybe not destroyed? And they’re going to take a “leading role” in this vis-a-vis the UN? What?

Increasingly it seems like there are only two likely outcomes here. Either Obama’s going to end up bombing Assad anyway or he’s going to have to tolerate further humiliation at the UN. Not much middle ground.


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Smartpower strikes again.

VegasRick on September 13, 2013 at 11:26 AM

Good thing we gave him a heads up. He may have foolishly left them in one spot.

Bmore on September 13, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Kerry to redefine ‘incredibly small’ later today.

NotCoach on September 13, 2013 at 11:29 AM

Good thing we gave him a heads up. He may have foolishly left them in one spot.

Bmore on September 13, 2013 at 11:27 AM

“spreadin da welth” obambi style.

VegasRick on September 13, 2013 at 11:29 AM

You are the leader of Nuevo Xanadu…and some guy who is the leader of a large country off to your West and has a lot of weapons tells the world that he is going to bomb you and destroy your capacity to wage war or defend yourself…and you do what?

Head down to Home Depot and buy several cases of fluorescent orange spray paint and make sure he knows exactly where all your goodies are?

A smart leader would disperse his stuff fast, if he hadn’t already done so.

And Team Obama never gave this possibility a moment’s thought?

coldwarrior on September 13, 2013 at 11:30 AM

At Politico, the lib trolls are jumping in the air about what a great job Obama did in “defanging” Syria. And that the Russian Navy is just a couple tugboats and canoes. I read that big bad Obama will bomb the crap out of Assad if he’s not a good boy and that will be that. End of story.

I swear, the left is just stupid and dangerous.

patman77 on September 13, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Increasingly it seems like there are only two likely outcomes here. Either Obama’s going to end up bombing Assad anyway or he’s going to have to tolerate further humiliation at the UN. Not much middle ground.

Let Obama wallow in his own filth. He made this mess, let him own it. It is an O-bomb-a-nation kind of situation.

Happy Nomad on September 13, 2013 at 11:32 AM

Is there any surprise that this would become an even bigger clusterfark?

Obama is feckless and weak. If he took the threat of military action off the table, he would become irrelevant regarding Syria.

The United Nations is feckless, weak, and irrelevant.

Obama’s put himself in a corner where there is no winning…and ceded the initiative to Putin – who has been arming Syria for the last 55 years and wants to maintain their military base, their advisers and arms sales to the despotic regime. The fact that he can pwn Obama and damage the US at the same time – that is win for him.

Once again we are in a situation where the President’s refusal to admit or fix a mistake has created an untenable situation and damaged the country.

Athos on September 13, 2013 at 11:34 AM

This was a brilliant move by obozo, because, well, um, I haven’t received my talking points yet but I’m sure this was part of the long term strategy that proves obozo is super smart.

Flange on September 13, 2013 at 11:35 AM

A smart leader would disperse his stuff fast, if he hadn’t already done so.

And Team Obama never gave this possibility a moment’s thought?

coldwarrior on September 13, 2013 at 11:30 AM

I think the thin-skinned rat thought he could play the bully. The thought being if he doubled down on the bluster of drawing a red line, Syria would throw him a bone. The going to Congress for authorization was to get political cover when he found himself alone out on a limb.

So, no, Team Rat never seroiusly thought about what their “save the date” rhetoric meant.

Happy Nomad on September 13, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Flange on September 13, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Don’t worry. Verby will be along any minute to tell us how brilliant Obama is and how we are over-reacting.

kingsjester on September 13, 2013 at 11:38 AM

I got the clear impression Assad was fully dedicated to complete transparency in his administration. wtf?

onomo on September 13, 2013 at 11:38 AM

This was a brilliant move by obozo, because, well, um, I haven’t received my talking points yet but I’m sure this was part of the long term strategy that proves obozo is super smart.

Flange on September 13, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Okay, so what does victory for the US in Syria look like? Not one of the fools out there praising the thin-skinned rat for his Spock-like intelligence can answer that question.

Happy Nomad on September 13, 2013 at 11:39 AM

I thought The Ugly American was fiction. Imagine my surprise when I turned on the news and realized it was a primer.

platypus on September 13, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Is it preferable now to have Assad/Hizballah/Iran takes control of all of Syria and then years from now figure out a way how to deal with Assad/Hizballah/Iran axis of terror?…

mnjg on September 13, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Same unit that helped move many of them out of Iraq in 2003.
Assad does not want to end up like his fellow Baathist Saddam, doing a jig at the end of rope . . . if he is lucky.

Egypt kicked the Rooskies out after the Yom Kippur War of 1973.
They got booted out of Libya.
Comrade Saddam sleeps with the fishes.
The Iranians are bat-shit crazy.
Algeria is looking west.
Syria is all they have left in the region and there is a large population of orthodox christians in Syria.

Bubba Redneck on September 13, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Okay, so what does victory for the US in Syria look like?

Happy Nomad on September 13, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Obozo resigning in disgrace.

Flange on September 13, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Don’t worry. Verby will be along any minute to tell us how brilliant Obama is and how we are over-reacting.

kingsjester on September 13, 2013 at 11:38 AM

This one may take awhile.

Flange on September 13, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Syria is all they have left in the region and there is was a large population of orthodox christians in Syria.

Bubba Redneck on September 13, 2013 at 11:48 AM

FIFY

Happy Nomad on September 13, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Tracking down the chemical weapons in Syria is going to be about as successful as Mohamed ElBaradei and Yukiya Amano of the IAEA had in keeping an eye on Iran’s nuclear capability. Not very encouraging is it?

fourdeucer on September 13, 2013 at 11:50 AM

mnjg on September 13, 2013 at 11:42 AM

So, you would rather put the people who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11/01 and, who overran our Embassy on 9/11/12 in power in Syria?

The majority of the “Syrian Rebels” are now controlled by al Qaeda and their affilated groups.

kingsjester on September 13, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Obozo resigning in disgrace.

Flange on September 13, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Much as I agree with you, that will never happen. The shaved Yeti he’s married to will never willingly give up the perqs of being in the White House.

Happy Nomad on September 13, 2013 at 11:52 AM

So, you would rather put the people who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11/01 and, who overran our Embassy on 9/11/12 in power in Syria?

The majority of the “Syrian Rebels” are now controlled by al Qaeda and their affilated groups.

kingsjester on September 13, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Absolutely not… Hence I asked the question is it better to have Assad/Iran/Hizballah axis of terror control Syria for now and then years from now we should find a way how to deal with Assad/Iran/Hizballah axis of terror?…

mnjg on September 13, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Okay, so what does victory for the US in Syria look like?

Happy Nomad on September 13, 2013 at 11:39 AM

A nice big mirror?

katy the mean old lady on September 13, 2013 at 11:55 AM

The shaved Yeti he’s married to will never willingly give up the perqs of being in the White House.

Happy Nomad on September 13, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Maybe we could pass the hat and raise enough money to send her on a trip to her ancestral home in the Himalayan Mountains as a parting gift.

Flange on September 13, 2013 at 11:56 AM

The majority of the “Syrian Rebels” are now controlled by al Qaeda and their affilated groups.

kingsjester on September 13, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Nonsense KJ! We have both Kerry and McCain citing “Dr” Obagy’s work that shows conclusively that the oppositionists are really Jeffersonian democrats.

But seriously, I think that the way Kerry and the rat failed pretty much assures Assad will remain in power.

Happy Nomad on September 13, 2013 at 11:57 AM

‘We know a lot less than we did six months ago about where the chemical weapons are.’

But, but, but, mnjg told us that the United States and Israel know Assad’s complete inventory and where all of the weapons are right now because satellites are so much better than they were a decade ago!

To monitor, control, and eventually destroy Assad’s chemical weapons, we need human intelligence on the ground, which is a very difficult thing to have during a civil war.

In December 2003, Moammar Qaddafi agreed to give up his WMD. The ‘international community’ was still in the process of searching for and destroying them when he was toppled. For most of the time that Qadaffi’s WMD were being destroyed, the country was at peace and stable.

If the international community with the United States playing a pivotal role couldn’t amass and destroy all of Qadaffi’s WMD in 8 years with the ability to be safely on the ground, how is it supposed to destroy Assad’s 100,000 tonnes of WMD during a civil war?

‘Within four weeks the UN will be in Syria taking away Assad WMD for destruction…’

mnjg on September 9, 2013 at 8:53 PM

Resist We Much on September 13, 2013 at 11:57 AM

This is precisely what you get when you elect a community organizer to POTUS. The only remaining supporters he has are the leftists here. The rest of the world sees him as a bumbling fool.

rjoco1 on September 13, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Resist We Much on September 13, 2013 at 11:57 AM

I was wrong…

mnjg on September 13, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Much as I agree with you, that will never happen. The shaved Yeti he’s married to will never willingly give up the perqs of being in the White House.

Happy Nomad on September 13, 2013 at 11:52 AM

She shaved?

VegasRick on September 13, 2013 at 12:02 PM

But seriously, I think that the way Kerry and the rat failed pretty much assures Assad will remain in power.

Happy Nomad on September 13, 2013 at 11:57 AM

It seems to be the case now… However in the future we should figure out a way to deal with Assad/Iran/Hizballah axis of terror… The question is do we want to do that in the future?

mnjg on September 13, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Meanwhile,back at SyrianGoon H.Q.:

Syrian civil war

Syrian government forces bombing, shelling hospitals in rebel-held areas, constituting war crimes, UN investigators say – @Reuters

54 mins ago by editor
=========================

GENEVA | Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:03am EDT

(Reuters) – Syrian government forces are bombing and shelling hospitals in rebel-held areas to stop sick and wounded getting treatment, acts which constitute war crimes, U.N. investigators said on Friday.(More…)
========================

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/13/us-syria-crisis-health-idUSBRE98C0NG20130913

canopfor on September 13, 2013 at 12:05 PM

However in the future we should figure out a way to deal with Assad/Iran/Hizballah axis of terror…

mnjg on September 13, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Why? Tell the filthy bastard in the White House to get off his ass, approve the Keystone pipeline, and spend his remaining time in office working toward energy independence so it doesn’t matter what one brand of Jihadi does to another.

Happy Nomad on September 13, 2013 at 12:08 PM

(Reuters) – Syrian government forces are bombing and shelling hospitals in rebel-held areas to stop sick and wounded getting treatment, acts which constitute war crimes, U.N. investigators said on Friday.

canopfor on September 13, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Well, according to US foreign policy that’s okay. No red lines have been crossed because they are not shelling those hospitals with CW.

Happy Nomad on September 13, 2013 at 12:10 PM

You would have thought Obama might have learned his lesson about this from Pakistan

President Emily Letilla is the smartest person in the room and doesn’t need to learn any lesson. He knows better than we who live in the real world.

rbj on September 13, 2013 at 12:13 PM

At Politico… the Russian Navy is just a couple tugboats and canoes.

I swear, the left is just stupid and dangerous.

patman77 on September 13, 2013 at 11:31 AM

This kind of canoe?

http://rt.com/news/russia-moskva-cruiser-mediterranean-720/

Viator on September 13, 2013 at 12:15 PM

I was wrong…

mnjg on September 13, 2013 at 11:59 AM

It takes a real man to admit this.

You s/b granted a reprieve now.

Schadenfreude on September 13, 2013 at 12:16 PM

canopfor on September 13, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Well, according to US foreign policy that’s okay. No red lines have been crossed because they are not shelling those hospitals with CW.

Happy Nomad on September 13, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Happy Nomad:Um,ya,nothing to see here,move along,Progressive Smart
Power at work!:)

canopfor on September 13, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Why? Tell the filthy bastard in the White House to get off his ass, approve the Keystone pipeline, and spend his remaining time in office working toward energy independence so it doesn’t matter what one brand of Jihadi does to another.

Happy Nomad on September 13, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Contrary to popular opinion we are not dependent on Middle Eastern oil… Most of our imports of oil come from Canada and Mexico… However the Middle East is very important for us because of Israel and because many of our allies depend largely on Middle Eastern oil… Eventually Israel will need our help in a strike against Iran… Our allies need us to remain the supreme power in the Middle East to protect the flow of oil to them…

mnjg on September 13, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Schadenfreude on September 13, 2013 at 12:16 PM

I have no problem admit that I am wrong when I am wrong… not just on the internet but in real life…

mnjg on September 13, 2013 at 12:21 PM

Obama and his merry band of idiots think they are so smart that they never, NEVER, consider the obvious.

My dad the used care salesman would always say “Jimmy, the people that think they are smart are the easiest to fool.”

Bad news for the USA, Obama and his merry band of idiots think they are very, very smart.

jukin3 on September 13, 2013 at 12:23 PM

admit= admitting…

mnjg on September 13, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Assad is probably moving Saddam’s chemical weapons back to Iraq for temporary storage….

And then a few tons to Lebanon so Hezbollah will have some…

Barry Obama is one smart President!

albill on September 13, 2013 at 12:29 PM

And then a few tons to Lebanon so Hezbollah will have some…

Barry Obama is one smart President!

albill on September 13, 2013 at 12:29 PM

I hope that the Israelis are watching very hard for any possible chemical weapons given by Assad to Hizballah terrorists… Because make no doubt about it that Hizballah terrorists will use chemical weapons against Israel…

mnjg on September 13, 2013 at 12:36 PM

I have no problem admit that I am wrong when I am wrong… not just on the internet but in real life…

mnjg on September 13, 2013 at 12:21 PM

It’s an admirable trait, indeed. You’re totally forgiven from this quarter :) We fight the same enemies, I hope.

Schadenfreude on September 13, 2013 at 12:45 PM

How many years have Iran and N Korea been stalling? Perhaps the Syrians will set a new record.

GarandFan on September 13, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Hah, consider who’s saying this.

Schadenfreude on September 13, 2013 at 12:50 PM

And then a few tons to Lebanon so Hezbollah will have some…

Barry Obama is one smart President!

albill on September 13, 2013 at 12:29 PM

Imagine what price hezblahblah is extracting from Assad for throwing themselves into a full alliance with him against the rebels. It’s a matter of life and death for Assad and his regime.

slickwillie2001 on September 13, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Elite Syrian unit has scattered Assad’s chemical stockpile among as many as 50 different sites

This is what happens when an unexperienced, ignorant Community Organizer who is over his head openly declares to the leader/nation he intends to strike EXACTLY what he plans to do militarily BEFORE he does it, outlining every detail and then waits fo an extended period of time. Did Obama REALLY expect Assad NOT to move his WMD, that he would actually ALLOW Obama to get around to striking his nation/weapons?

Good grief, it’s like freakin’ AMATEUR HOUR at the Improv!

easyt65 on September 13, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Imagine what price hezblahblah is extracting from Assad for throwing themselves into a full alliance with him against the rebels. It’s a matter of life and death for Assad and his regime.

slickwillie2001 on September 13, 2013 at 12:53 PM

It is also a matter of life and death for Hizballah terrorists that Assad terrorist regime survives… Hizballah is helping Assad because they have to not because they want to… they have no other choice…

mnjg on September 13, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Let’s pretend for a minute that we are screenwriters tasked with plotting a new blockbuster action flick, with suspense, human interest, drama, and pathos. And some “surprising twists” (never mind that it’s all been done before; remakes and “tributes” outnumber original plots by a huge margin).
Okay – one plot point at a time here:

HEADLINE: Elite Syrian unit has scattered Assad’s chemical stockpile among as many as 50 different sites — Buried deep in the article, in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fashion, is the fact that they began doing this roughly a year ago. CoincidentallyBy design, it was also roughly a year ago that President Bumblefark Mephistofeles idly floated the idea of a “red line” for Syria’s WMD at a White House presser. Rather than keep his cards close to his vest for strategic reasons, he chose to try to make it appear that his goal was to intimidate Assad into not using gas. Assad responded logically enough by dispersing his weapons and now here we are, with the task of going in and grabbing them much more complex than it might otherwise have been.

You would have thought Obama might havePresident Mephistofeles learned his lesson about this from Pakistan, which has for years engaged in the insane practice of constantly moving its nuclear weapons around the country for fear that the U.S. will launch a surprise raid to confiscate them. If a rogue power has reason to think America has designs on its WMD, it’s going to take evasive action. And that evasive action is itself hugely dangerous, of course, insofar as having nuclear or chemical weapons in transit increases the risk of jihadis grabbing them via an accident or a surprise raid of their own.
So, all in all, excellent work here, champ.

Someone might think so.

And Team Obama never gave this possibility a moment’s thought?

coldwarrior on September 13, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Well, they did in the movie.

AesopFan on September 13, 2013 at 5:07 PM