Surprise: 'Disarmed' Assad regime has been hiding chemical weapons facilities

A quick update on the largely forgotten half of President Obama’s shambolic Syria policy.  You’ll recall, of course, the blown chemical weapons “red line” and the subsequent, humiliating Putin/Assad plan that accidentally became US policy due after John Kerry blundered into it.  Kerry has since admitted that the entire proposition has collapsed, forcing the White House to publicly disagree with its own Secretary of State.  Nevertheless, a loyal band of administration lackeys triumphantly cheered news of Syria’s alleged disarmament when it broke over the summer, after several missed deadlines.  ‘No Drama Obama’ had done it again, they crowed, achieving his geopolitical objectives and silencing his domestic critics in a single brilliant stroke:

International weapons inspectors announced Monday that Syria has handed over the last of its declared chemical weapons stockpile for removal and destruction, even as U.S. officials voiced concern about the Damascus government’s alleged use of other toxic substances. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which was charged last year with overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons under an agreement between the United States and Russia, took control of the “last consignment” of the deadly chemicals, which were loaded onto a ship at the Syrian port of Latakia, the agency’s director general, Ahmet Uzumcu, said in a statement. “A major landmark in this mission has been reached today,” Uzumcu said Monday.

A big win!” cheered a credulous producer on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC blog, ignoring obvious signs of trouble ahead.  Indeed, as predicted, the clouds never lifted:

The U.S. expressed concern on Thursday that the Syrian government may still have chemical weapons, violating its agreement with the international community last September. Following a meeting at the U.N. Security Council, U.S. envoy Samantha Power told reporters that doubts about existing “discrepancies and omissions in Syria’s original declaration” on its chemical arsenal have yet to be cleared up. “I want to stress that much more work still needs to be done on Syria’s chemical-weapons program,” Power told reporters. “We must ensure that the Syrian government destroys its remaining facilities for producing chemical weapons within the mandated time frames and without the repeated delays by the Assad regime that plagued earlier removal efforts.”

And now, your inevitable grim punchline:

Syria has four chemical weapons facilities that it did not previously disclose to the United Nations, a Western diplomat told CNN on Tuesday. The diplomat said Sigrid Kaag, the U.N. special envoy overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical stockpiles, briefed the U.N. Security Council. Three of the sites are research and development facilities and one is a production facility, according to the source.

The Obama administration’s official response:

“Keep pressure on regime.” Right. This revelation marks a blatant and massive violation of a disarmament plan that was, supposedly, the only basis for Assad’s reprieve from American bombing — “unbelievably small” or otherwise.  I’m sure the regime is positively quaking over Power’s milquetoast Twitter slap, especially since the US is currently acting, at least in part, as Assad’s de facto air force.  Thus, what was not long ago hailed as a war-preventing diplomatic achievement is now a discarded afterthought.  Smart power.  I’ll leave you with this assessment from Obama’s former Secretary of Defense:

And guess who’s suddenly public enemy No. 1 on MSNBC? Must protect the Precious.

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David Strom 8:31 AM on October 05, 2022