Surprise: Syria will probably miss final deadline for chemical weapon destruction
posted at 9:21 pm on March 24, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham
Oh yeah, Syria. If you’ll remember, there was about a week and a half in 2013 where it was vitally important we get involved in an armed conflict with Syria because after slaughtering thousands of his citizens with conventional weapons, Bashar al-Assad (a “reformer” in the words of the likely Democratic nominee for 2016) started slaughtering them with chemical weapons. This had the unfortunate side effect (aside from the thousands of dead Syrians) of requiring President Obama to treat what he had called a “red line” as an actual “red line.” And, thus began the push in the White House and the compliant media for an “unbelievably small,” Congressionally unauthorized military action in the country.
After one Rose Garden speech on the necessity of military action, followed by a Congressional revolt, one prime time speech to walk back the Rose Garden speech designed to head off a crushing defeat in a Congressional vote Obama was forced to ask for, and 10 days of bumbling “smart power” embarrassment, the president grabbed the first gaffe raft he could find upon which to float. That was Sec. of State John Kerry’s accidental aside suggesting that Syria could spare itself strikes if it just decided to give up its weapons to the international community— a scenario Kerry himself immediately dismissed as unrealistic, the State Dept. later dismissed as mere “hypothetical,” and the Obama administration embraced as awesome policy after the Russians and Syrians signaled they thought it was a dandy idea.
The head of the organisation overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile said he still hoped Damascus could meet a final deadline of June 30 but it might miss that target.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government agreed to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal by mid-year as part of a U.S.-Russian agreement negotiated after a chemical attack last August that killed hundreds of people around Damascus.
It has handed over roughly half of its stockpile to a joint mission with the United Nations but is several weeks behind schedule, blaming security problems for the delays.
Kerry said he hoped the confrontation over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea would not harm cooperation with Russia on international efforts to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons.
“All I can say is I hope the same motivations that drove Russia to be a partner in this effort will still exist,” Kerry told reporters in The Hague.
Well, at least there are plenty of reasons to trust Syria’s and Russia’s motives and reliability, on display in both current events and the entire Syria weapons project:
Syria has missed almost all deadlines agreed in the deal brokered by Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whom Kerry met in The Hague for bilateral talks.
My sense is that there’s virtually no limit to the slack the west will cut him in return for putting his guns down, so long as he doesn’t make a move on a NATO country. Especially given the U.S./EU interest in Russian cooperation (or “cooperation”) on Iran and Syria.