CNN reported on Tuesday that Syria may not be in compliance with the U.S.-Russia agreement to disclose, release, and destroy all its chemical weapons. As Seth Meyers on Saturday Night Live would say: “Really”! “Really”!
It should have been dubious from the beginning that Syria could bring itself to completely accept the demand to destroy all its chemical weapons. The graciousness and speed with which Assad acquiesced to U.N. inspection and collection of the gas stored for years throughout Syria, should have been an immediate give-away. Had Syria been moving to completely transfer its weapons it would have dragged out the negotiations and even then maybe not finally to have agreed; even with Obama threatening to attack Syria with cruise missiles? Having just gassed his own people, did everyone assume that Assad suddenly reconsidered his actions and gave up his trump?
Many have always feared that much of the more volatile chemicals might have been transferred to Iran or Hezbollah in exchange for their assistance in fighting the insurgent rebels. The inspectors were being given—or perhaps facilitating–Syria’s disposal of its older stockpiles and perhaps even its less chemically stable material, which might have required more sophisticated efforts to detoxify.
Assuming that the CNN report is corroborated by the inspection team, what are the consequences for the Russian-U.S. agreement to remove the gas stores? What will the U.N. possibly now do about Syria reneging on its promise? How long will all parties proceed to discuss what can or might be done against Syria? Is Russia any closer now on agreeing to implement sanctions? Finally, where does this leave the President and his still violated red line? The Syrians may have given Obama time to get through the Government shut-down and debt limit crisis, but how does he waffle through the holidays given Syria’s thwarting a diplomatic finesse?
If you want something else about which to worry in the region of the same or even greater magnitude, is U.S. intelligence so sure that Qaddafi really gave up all his nuclear weapons in 2003?