The geopolitical narrative surrounding the domestic war in Syria has taken a surprising turn towards a diplomatic solution following a suggestion by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who proposed that Syria surrender its chemical weapons arsenal for destruction.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quick to back the idea, and promptly made the offer to his Syrian counterpart, Walid Muallem. US officials are now saying that Kerry made a “rhetorical argument” rather than a serious offer.
On August 30, 2013, Kerry said the US had evidence “as clear as they are compelling” that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against its own people, killing 1,429 including 426 children on August 21, 2013, in the suburbs of Damascus.
Meanwhile, United Nations (UN) investigators who collected samples on the scene of the alleged sarin gas attack haven’t released the report of their findings. But the US has already said that if the nerve agent were used against civilians, they would intervene by use of military force.
President Obama has backed from his initial hard line and asked Congress to postpone their vote on military action against Syria, not because the UN report has not been released but rather to wait and see if the Syrian regime will give up its chemical weapons.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has lashed out against all international accusations and repeated several times that it was rebels and terrorists who deployed the chemical weapons. So far his counterclaim is only supported by a Russian 100-page long report to the UN.
However, there are more things at stake than meet the eye. Last time the international community put their faith in US intelligence it lead to the Iraq war. Then the accusations suggested that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
“We know where they are [Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction]. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat,” then Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, said on March 30, 2003.
It’s no wonder that with a history of this precise intelligence, the States may want to opt for a more standoffish approach to the chemical weapons situation in Syria.
Should the US decide to intervene through military action, Russia has already announced publicly that they will deploy their navy to support the Syrian regime. Obviously, the former Cold War enemies will do anything to avoid a test of military might. Anything else could plummet the entire region into all out war.
Concurrently, the civilian death toll is rising in Syria where the domestic war has been raging for more than two years and claimed more than 100,000 lives according to the UN.
Article submitted September 12, 2013.