WASHINGTON, September 11, 2013 – Walid al-Moallem, Syrian foreign minister, has agreed to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control.
“We held a very fruitful round of talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday, and he proposed an initiative relating to chemical weapons. And in the evening we agreed to the Russian initiative. ” al-Moallem, noting that greeing to the proposal was in order to “uproot U.S. aggression.”
The agreement, brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, would place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control, avoiding a possible U.S. led military strike in retaliation for the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus that left hundreds dead.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied U.S. assertions that government launched the attacks on Syrian neighborhoods they had been trying to clear of rebels.
Secretary of State Kerry said on Monday that Syria can resolve the conflict by turning over chemical weapon stockpiles to the international community. President Obama said on Monday during an interview with ABC News Diane Sawyer that a military strike is “absolutely” on hold if Syria gives up its chemical weapons stockpile.
The Russian’s proposal came after what some felt was an off-the-cuff remark by Kerry about Syria relinquishing the weapons. That said, acceptance by Syria may have the Obama administration breathing a sigh of relief, as the only ally willing to use military strikes against Syria is France.
President Obama is facing mounting opposition from Congress and the American people on the subject military strikes. Lack of Congressional approval would leave Obama leaving him alone to take responsibility for any possible military actions.
This is not a position Obama wants to be in.
Now the question becomes why would Russia propose a deal that would remove and dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, that they previously claimed did not exist, even suggesting that the rebel’s launched the chemcial attack.
After all, if Russia believed that the rebels possessed chemical weapons and conducted the attack why dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons. Could it be Russia’s desire to protect their access to Syrian assets?
A question not being asked is what, if anything would we be done if chemical weapons are in the hands of the rebels? Do we make it clear that they would suffer the same fate as Assad if they choose to use their chemical weapons on Syria’s military or government?
A Russian negotiated agreement may be the best thing to happen for the Obama administration since his ‘red line in the sand’ comment. Launching the chemical weapons, the results of which were widely video taped and shared over social media, backed Obama into a corner, forcing his threat to use military action against Syria.
With the polls showing the American people overwhelmingly disapprove of a military strike against Syria, France is the only U.S. ally, and they have proposed a UN resolution calling for military action against Syria if it did not comply with the agreement.
One has to wonder what teeth the proposed resolution would have, given the United Nations track record with Iraq when Saddam Hussein was violating a number of UN resolutions set forth after the Gulf war.
The Obama administration has already begun the path to taking credit for the Russian brokered diplomacy,which tips a bit of the world power axis away from the US to Russia, who has not been a staunch ally of the United States.
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