Tags: levy | syria | assad | partner

Bernard-Henri Levy: Syria Deal Legitimizes Assad as a 'Partner'

Wednesday, 18 Sep 2013 12:39 PM

By Dan Weil

One of the many deep problems with the Russian-American agreement to disarm Syria of chemical weapons is that it legitimizes Syrian President Bashar Assad, says acclaimed French author Bernard-Henri Levy.

"Assad has been transformed, as if by magic, from a war criminal and enemy of humanity (in the words of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon) into an unavoidable, nay, legitimate, negotiating partner — whose spirit of cooperation and responsibility I fear we will soon hear being widely praised," Levy writes in The Wall Street Journal.

Levy also challenges the idea that a U.S. Russian agreement to place Assad's chemical weapons under international control can be carried out.

"How, in a country at war, does one gather up and then destroy 1,000 tons of chemical weapons scattered across the entire territory?" he says, calling the deal "unverifiable" as well.

"According to the best estimates, the task would require 20 times more inspectors than the United Nations mustered in Syria last summer, and who, for the most part, remained shut up in their hotels or were trotted around by the regime."

He also notes that the agreement is "unaffordable," saying the United States "has invested $8 billion to $10 billion to destroy its own chemical weapons, and, 20 years later, the task is not yet finished."

In addition, he criticizes the agreement's mid-2014 timetable, calling it "meaningless."

"[It] sounds like a bad joke in a country where, for 2 1/2 years now, hundreds of civilians have been killed each day by conventional arms." Levy states.

Levy also argues that the agreement will have a negative impact on U.S. efforts to contain North Korea and Iran. The two countries, he says, "will have good reason to believe . . . that the West's word, its warnings, the promises it makes to its allies, aren't worth a thing."

But he adds that the agreement, more than anything else, will likely create more horror for Syrian civilians, "who now more than ever find themselves trapped."

"They are caught in a vise between the regime's army — supported by Russian advisers, Hezbollah auxiliaries and Revolutionary Guards from Tehran — and the jihadists who draw strength from the West's abdication and who increasingly are able to present themselves, despite poisonous future results not difficult to imagine, as the last hope of a people pushed to the brink," Levy says.


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