Tags: Syria | Assad | Syria | Chemical | Weapons

Does Anybody Care If Assad Uses Chemical Weapons Again?

Thursday, 22 Aug 2013 03:32 PM


  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
It was a year ago, almost to the day, that President Barack Obama warned the Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, not to deploy chemical weapons in his fight to stay in power.

“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus,” Obama said. “That would change my equation."

He went on: "We’re monitoring that situation very carefully. We have put together a range of contingency plans.” Earlier, the president had said that Assad would be “held accountable by the international community” if he made the “tragic mistake” of using these weapons.

As we know now, Assad did use these weapons, on repeated occasions, in small-scale attacks. The administration’s response to these confirmed reports of chemical weapons use came in June, when it authorized the transfer of small arms to the rebels, small arms the administration acknowledged would not tip the rebellion toward success.

There was one other international response to the use of these chemical weapons: After much delay, the United Nations sent a team of chemical weapons investigators to Syria this week.

That team is, right now, not far from the Ghouta region east of Damascus, where, overnight, the Syrian regime is alleged to have launched its largest chemical weapons attack to date. The number of dead — mostly civilians, including many children according to the reports we have — stands anywhere from several dozen to more than a thousand.

The videos of the attack aftermath, now being posted on YouTube at a rapid clip, are absolutely horrendous.

Two questions are raised by reports of this attack. The first, of course, is whether it happened the way Syrian rebels said it happened. That is why immediately dispatching the U.N. team, already in-country, to the affected areas is so vital.

If this process worked the way it should, they would be there already. If the Syrian regime denies the U.N. inspectors permission to visit these areas, well, that is kind of an answer in itself.

The second question is, why would the Assad regime launch its biggest chemical attack on rebels and civilians precisely at the moment when a UN inspection team was parked in Damascus?

The answer to that question is easy: Because Assad believes that no one — not the UN, not President Obama, not other Western powers, not the Arab League — will do a damn thing to stop him.

There is a good chance he is correct.

Jeffrey Goldberg is a Bloomberg View columnist. He is the author of "Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror" and winner of the National Magazine Award for reporting. He has covered the Middle East as a national correspondent for the Atlantic and as a staff writer for the New Yorker. Read more reports from Jeffrey Goldberg — Click Here Now.

© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

ISIS Shifts Political Winds McCain's Way

Monday, 15 Sep 2014 13:15 PM

Sen. John McCain, one of the last non-anguished interventionists in Washington (his Sancho Panza, fellow Republican Lind . . .

Obama's Tougher on Terror Than He Seems

Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 14:50 PM

to acknowledge that Obama's rhetoric, and the all-over-the-map statements made lately by members of the U.S. national se . . .

Europe's Slow Surrender to Anti-Semitism

Monday, 25 Aug 2014 12:51 PM

On the one hand, it is completely unsurprising that Europe has become a swamp of anti-Jewish hostility. It is, after all . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved