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Oct 24 2013

Syria Chemical Weapons Deal Proceeding Well

I think President Obama got pretty lucky in Syria when his saber rattling ended up being backed down by an unexpected agreement to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons with the help of Russia and other countries. But apparently the inspections and beginning stages of destruction of those weapons and means to produce them are going well.

The United Nations’ coordinator for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons on Tuesday announced that the process was going smoothly with the full cooperation of Syria, a prospect that many of the most hopeful of the deal hadn’t deemed likely…

The 60-person OPCW team has been on the ground for several weeks now andbegan the process of destroying equipment related to Syria’s chemical weapons on October 6. “Inspections have been conducted at 17 sites,” the OPCW said in an update on its website on Monday. “At 14 sites the inspectors carried out activities related to the destruction of critical equipment to make the facilities inoperable.”

Since the deal between the United States and Russia was formalized in late September at the United Nations, there’s been an outpouring of international assistance to aid in the mission. The State Department announced on Mondaythat the U.S. sent ten armored car Chevrolet Suburbans to help the team conduct its inspections, bringing the total American aid to the mission to $6 million. The German military’s U.N. Training Centre has been providing simulations and exercises for OPCW members to help prepare them for working in the midst of a combat zone, while Norway has been tapped to possibly help destroy the actual chemical weapons compounds.

Even states that have backed Syrian president Bashar al-Assad have proven eager to aid in ridding his regime of its weapons of mass destruction. China wasquick to announce that it was recommending 10 chemical weapons experts to aid in the dismantling process as well as financial support. Russia has also reportedly offered to provide security to the inspectors as they carry out their task. The first U.N. team to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria was met with sniper fire; the current joint OPCW/U.N. mission has thus far avoided such a fate.

This is all very good news, but there’s a long way to go. If this agreement, which is pretty much unprecedented, is successful in eliminating the threat of using chemical weapons in Syria, that’s a significant improvement of the situation in any number of ways. And it took away the excuse for intervening that some were clamoring for.

19 comments

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  1. 1
    Alverant

    That’s right, I forgot about Syria in light of the government shut down. Looks like the USA isn’t necessary to get things done. Who would have thunk it?

  2. 2
    eric

    I was thinking about the top 3-5 things for which the Obama administration years will likely be historically remembered. Finding and killing UBL. The tea party. Health care. The sea change in gay rights. CW disarmament? Interestingly, two of the five above things started with people below Obama shooting their mouths off. Before Biden’s gaffe, this administration did not support SSM. Before Kerry’s, we were on course for military intervention in Syria. This administration seems to make some of its best decisions when it ignores the minders and political handlers and just shoots from the hip.

    I don’t think I really have a point, except perhaps that this is consistent with complaints that Obama tries too hard to please the middle and his opponents. Its interesting, though, that the administration will probably reap more historical ‘success’ from Kerry and Biden’s blurts than they will from most of the years of careful planning and manouvering they’ve done.

  3. 3
    abear

    The chemical weapons deal is a small positive in a really bad situation.
    More than half of the rebels are directly linked to Al Qaeda and the majority of rest are also considered Islamists.
    The ISIS, the same group that the US was fighting in Iraq and is still murdering hundreds of people in Iraq each month, is fighting against the Free Syrian Army and assassinating its’ leaders(the good guys).
    Tens of thousands of “mujihadeen’ have been recruited and are trained by al Qaeda and are fighting in Iraq now, thousands of which have western passports. If Assad loses al Qaeda will likely have their own country, if Assad wins thousands of trained terrorists will be heading home, possibly to a neighborhood near you.
    Meanwhile,out of a country of 23 million approx 150,00 have been killed, more than a million are refugees in other countries, and 5 million are internally displaced.

  4. 4
    doublereed

    Foreign Policy makes absolutely no sense.

  5. 5
    Modusoperandi

    eric “Its interesting, though, that the administration will probably reap more historical ‘success’ from Kerry and Biden’s blurts than they will from most of the years of careful planning and manouvering they’ve done.”
    They’re giving Biden a bunch of plane tickets, sending him around the world to shout “Malarkey!”

    World peace is just around the corner.

  6. 6
    timberwoof

    I think the list of countries engaged in this peaceful disarmament of a potentially problematic country is a hopeful sign. US, Germany, and Norway participating is expected. But Russia and China as well … and Syria, the country whose weapons are being taken away?

    I just hope that the US stays “tired of war” and doesn’t wake up all refreshed and ready to punch someone in the face. Again.

  7. 7
    iangould

    Yes, how fortunate it is that nothing bad is happening in Syria.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=gKmw6xT2WjU

    But better a million sand niggers die than a single precious American life be put at risk.

  8. 8
    iangould

    That’s “a significant improvement” according to Ed.

  9. 9
    Suido

    @iangould:

    Are you implying that US military intervention in Syria would save lives? Afghanistan and Iraq beg to differ.

    If you don’t think that eliminating a method of mass murdering citizens is an improvement, care to explain why?

  10. 10
    iangould

    And Kosovo and Libya beg to concur.

    Try reading what actual military analysts say about the likely outcome of a multilateral military intervention in Syria as opposed to endless nauseating self-serving sanctimonious bullshit from so-called liberals which when the rhetoric is stripped away come down to “Fuck it they’re only ragheads and they all hate freedom anyway.”

  11. 11
    Sam N

    Really Ian? You have any evidence, or just fucking thoughts. I have no way of knowing if fewer people died by US intervention in Libya. Seems either is possible, and did other countries have a strong concern about US intervention in Libya? Hey, what do you think Russia, Iran, and militias in Lebanon feel about anti-Assad US intervention in Syria. And you really think US intervention in Iraq was a good thing? You have yet to make a compelling argument for Syrian intervention.

    I’m uncertain. In cases of war, I would say uncertainty is best not acted on. But whatever. Excoriate people for staying out of shit that is complicated and unpredictable because you’re a fucking genius and all…

  12. 12
    Suido

    @Iangould:

    Sure, cos there were so many foreign troops on the ground in Libya. That’s absolute proof of the effectiveness of military intervention, yes sir, let’s all go invade every unstable country in the world because of how good we were in the Balkans and Libya. That’s ridiculous reasoning.

    Do I think military intervention COULD help? Potentially yes, depending on the defined goals, strategy and international support.
    Do I think the US is in the right place politically and economically to successfully lead such an intervention ? No.
    Is there any other country that could take the lead? No.

    Key word there is ‘successfully’. If it were to be done, it would have to be done right, otherwise it is more likely to increase suffering. Given the recent debacles in Afghanistan and Iraq, the hyperpartisan nature of US politics and the lack of international agreement on how to proceed, I think military intervention would not be successful. It would get rid of Assad, but it wouldn’t improve the lives of ordinary Syrians.

    Gonna answer my second question? Never mind, if your answer will include gratuitous slurs, I don’t really want to see it. Perpetuating racism – you’re doing it right.

  13. 13
    iangould

    .”I have no way of knowing if fewer people died by US intervention in Libya.”

    Right, it’s not like we know that Qaddafi’s troops had lists of thousands of names in Misrata, for example, of people who were to be killed when the city was retaken, along with orders stating that his troops were to be allowed ot loot the city for a week with impunity.

    Just like there’s no evidence that even as the revolution was under way, Qaddafi was sending agents into Tunisia with orders to assassinate political leaders and carry out terrorist attacks.

    Also, I’m sure he had a perfectly innocent reason for retaining several tonnes of Sarin and Lewisite after supposedly giving up his chemical weapons program.

    At the time, international inspectors were proclaiming that disarmament program as a resounding success – much as they are now in Syria.

  14. 14
    grumpyoldfart

    - Syrian government kills thousands with illegal weapons of war.
    - Then says “Sorry, we won’t do it again.”
    - Rest of the world says, “Fair enough. Here’s your ‘Get Out Of Jail Free Card’.”
    - Syria laughs, “How easy was that?”

  15. 15
    The Beautiful Void

    @14 grumpyoldfart:

    Hey, America got to do it after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it’s only fair that they pay it forward.

  16. 16
    Who Cares

    @grumpyoldfart(#14):
    Funny but even the UN agreed that the attacks before the one that triggered this disarmament were most likely done by the rebels.
    The Assad regime never apologized just said we didn’t do that last one. This to the point that the local commander in control of the chemical weapons was chewed out, since there was a standing order from the capital to not use them, and detained until it was confirmed all his stock was still there (the west intercepted the chewing out and the stock report).

  17. 17
    dingojack

    Psst Ian – how’d that direct US intervention in Laos and Vietnam work out again? I’m sure it went swimmingly.
    Dingo

  18. 18
    eric

    Modus:

    They’re giving Biden a bunch of plane tickets, sending him around the world to shout “Malarkey!”

    World peace is just around the corner.

    If you’re going to give him plane tickets and send him around the world, the best effect can be gained by ensuring there are only a few minutes between each connecting flight. :)

  19. 19
    abear

    Who Cares wrote:

    Funny but even the UN agreed that the attacks before the one that triggered this disarmament were most likely done by the rebels.

    I recall the Syrians and Russians making that claim but never heard of any claims made either by the UN or the agency that confirmed that sarin was used agreeing to that.
    Because the inspection agency was not mandated to decide who conducted attacks but was limited to whether chemical agents were used they did not make a determination on which side used chemical weapons on any of the attacks.
    If you have a source on this I would be interested to see it.

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