Tags: Barack Obama | Syria | War on Terrorism | syria | chemical | weapons | obama

What Happened to Syria's Chemical Weapons?

Image: What Happened to Syria's Chemical Weapons?

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Tuesday, 06 Sep 2016 02:07 PM Current | Bio | Archive

In August 2013 President Obama indicated President Bassar Assad of Syria had crossed the “red line” in the use of chemical weapons which killed more than 1400 people.

However, instead of launching a much anticipated attack, Obama reached an accord with Russia for the removal and destruction of these chemical weapons. In July 2014 the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out.”

In August 2016 U.S. and European officials reported evidence of deadly chemical agents present in Syria. In fact, according to a Foreign Policy article, Assad “failed to provide sufficient access to senior leaders in its chemical weapons program or to adequately account for 2000 aerial bombs that Syria acknowledges were designed to deliver mustard gas.”

Despite assurances from Mr. Kerry and pledges from Russian officials, the “red line” is now written in invisible ink. U.N. Security Council resolutions about this matter have been ignored and the Assad government has engaged in obfuscation when charges have been levelled.

Although President Obama regards his decision to delegate this matter to Russia as a success, it has accomplished two negative effects for the United States. Obama may be “very proud” of his actions, but in accepting Russia as the broker in this deal, it is ensconced in the Middle East with the approval and assistance of the American government.

The long standing Arab suspicion of Russian ambition, brought to a head in 1973 when President Sadat of Egypt requested Russian departure from the region, has been effectively reversed. Russia is not only active, present and expansive, it is regarded as the “strong horse” in the neighborhood.

Second, the unwillingness of the United States to act on the basis of an unequivocal moral and legal principle has made it clear U.S. power is waning and the word of the President is without meaning. Building up to the deal with Russia, President Obama gave several speeches in which he referred to the rule of law as the sine qua non of international stability.

Yet his actions contradicted his statements and his credibility as the leader of the free world has been justifiably questioned.

What one does now is unclear. The Russians have vowed to protect Assad, who is ostensibly a vassal of Putin’s. Since Russian leadership is committed to the defeat of Assad’s enemies, there are very few scruples it employs in vanquishing the enemy.

Poison gas is rarely mentioned in the present discussion of a supposed ceasefire arrangement.

The role of the U.S. is also unclear. Although “Assad must go” stands as U.S. official policy, it is obvious from Kerry’s diplomatic stance that there isn’t a time table for his departure and the U.S. is counting on Russia to determine that eventuality.

As a consequence, America holds a seat at the Lausanne discussion on Syria, but it doesn’t have a voice, at least not an influential voice.

Hence, the U.S. is hoist by its own petard. It opted to give the Russians control over Syrian matters, then watched in dismay as Russia exploited the opportunity to engender regional influence. At the moment, the U.S. does not have a Syrian position, much less a policy: The march to resolution of the Syria question will be determined by an array of American enemies including Russia, Iran, and Turkey.

Solzhenitsyn once said, “A decline in courage may be the most striking feature than an outside observer notices in the West today.” And this was said long before Obama’s decisions or lack thereof on Syria’s poison gas usage.

Herbert London is the president of the London Center for Policy Research and author of the books "America's Secular Challenge" (Encounter Books) and "The Transformational Decade" (University Press of America). Read more reports from Herbert London — Click Here Now.

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In August 2013 President Obama indicated President Bassar Assad of Syria had crossed the “red line” in the use of chemical weapons which killed more than 1400 people.
syria, chemical, weapons, obama
646
2016-07-06
Tuesday, 06 Sep 2016 02:07 PM
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