Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Assad's credibility

Much has been made of the US-Russian agreement for the surrender by Pres. Assad of his stockpiles of chemical weapons and his vountarily releasing them to be verified and destroyed by international inspectors. Many think it is a chance for a peaceful diplomatic resolution of the problem of his use of chemical weapons and the avoidance of a US military strike on Syria.

But, suppose Pres. Assad is non-compliant, suppose he releases only partial information and tries to hide some weapons and the ability to make more. Suppose he blocks the inspectors from finding and verifying some of the stockpiles. His excuse of course could be that it is in the middle of a war and access is very difficult or impossible. But, let's go back two steps, first it was reported last week that Pres. Assad was dispersing his chemical weapons stockpiles so that they could not be targeted by a US military strike. Presumably some of them are well-hidden by now. Second, a week before the agreement Pres. Assad denied publicly that he has chemical weapons, he told that to reporters just days before the Russians on his behalf agreed that he will specify the locations and amounts of his stockpiles. In other words he lied.

Let's ask why is it that a small country like Syria has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world. The answer from Syria is that it wanted them to counteract Israel's reported cache of nuclear weapons. The fact is that Assad has no compunction of using such weapons when they were banned by international agreement for 100 years and using them against his own defenceless people. His army has also killed over 100,000 Syrians and he is allied with Iran that is expert at delaying tactics with the Europeans in negotiations over their nuclear weapons program. Let's face it, Pres. Assad's credibility is nil.

The credibility of the agreement and its implementation lies with the Russians. Pres. Putin is the guarantor for Assad's full cooperation with the international inspectors. But, since Assad is a liar and a war criminal, how much trust can we put in him. And is Pres. Putin all that reliable, will it be in his interests to stretch out the process, even though it is supposed to be finished by mid-November, a very short schedule according to experts. No, this story has many chapters yet to be written.


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