Middle East expert Walid Phares tells Newsmax that he is “strategically skeptical” of Saturday’s deal between the United States and Russia to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and said that the agreement is destined to fail.
“It won’t work because it is coming before the resolution of the Syrian conflict,” Phares said in an exclusive interview. “In the case of Syria there is a raging domestic civil war and weapons are all over the country.”
In a joint news conference wrapping up three days of negotiations in Geneva, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday that Syria is obligated to submit a "comprehensive listing" of its chemical weapons stockpiles within one week. Arms inspectors must be on the ground in Syria by November with the goal of eliminating the country's chemical weapons by mid-2014.
“The U.S. and Russia are declaring that Syria has accepted to remove those weapons,” observed Phares. “I’m asking what process is possible to go inside a civil war without a cease fire and then remove those weapons? There are 1,000 landmines before this can be accomplished.”
Phares, author of "Confrontation: Winning the War Against Future Jihad," insists that the agreement was in the best interests of President Barack Obama and Russian Russian President Vladimir Putin — even if it is fundamentally flawed.
"It’s in the interests of both Washington and Moscow to state to the world that they have found an agreement,” he asserted, noting that Syrian President Bashar Assad will most likely appear supportive of the agreement in public.
“Assad is going to abide by anything that will give him time without solving the problem. This is the Assad dynasty,” Phares predicted. “He will accept the principle. He will sign the agreement and then when you come to actually implement the agreement — for example gather all of the weapons — he is going to try to say ‘well there are areas where the rebels are shooting. I cannot go and move those weapons.’”
He said that Assad is a “master of gaining time” and he will most likely to try stall the implementation as much as possible.
“He may at some point remit some of the obsolete weapons and then move the other part of the weapons. He’s not going to actually desist. This is a power. This is a strategic power. He’s never going to let go of it that easily,” said Phares, who has been critical of President Barack Obama’s handling of the Syrian crisis.
“You don’t talk about red lines if you cannot enforce them. You don’t mobilize your ships and promise that there will be a strike if you actually don’t strike and you don’t call on Assad to step down if you are going to go back to Geneva.”
He described the Obama administration’s handling of the crisis as “a series of mistakes based on the original mistake which is that the U.S. administration is on the path to withdrawal.”
Phares also believes it is less likely that the Obama administration will resort to military force against Syria in the absence of a direct provocation.
“If the Obama administration continues in its retreat it is less likely that it will strike unless Assad, or Iran, or Hezbollah would actually go beyond the rational, acceptable and attack American interests directly,” Phares explained. “Even when we are attacked directly as in Benghazi we have not seen retaliation. So I’m very, very skeptical.”
Newsmax wire services contributed to this report.
© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.