It looks like a workable deal has been reached on what to do about Syrian chemical weapons.
The United States and Russia agreed Saturday on an outline for the identification and seizure of Syrian chemical weapons and said Syria must turn over an accounting of its arsenal within a week.
The agreement will be backed by a U.N. Security Council resolution that could allow for sanctions or other consequences if Syria fails to comply, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said.
Kerry said that the first international inspection of Syrian chemical weapons will take place by November, with destruction to begin next year.
Senior administration officials had said Friday the Obama administration would not press for U.N. authorization to use force against Syria if it reneges on any agreement to give up its chemical weapons.
The Russians had made clear in talks here between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Kerry that the negotiations could not proceed under the threat of a U.N. resolution authorizing a military strike. Russia also wanted assurances that a resolution would not refer Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the International Criminal Court for possible war-crimes prosecution.
Now that Syria has agreed to sign the 1993 international Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), one hopes that pressure will be brought to bear on the eight remaining holdouts (“Burma and Israel have signed but not ratified, while Angola, North Korea, Egypt, South Sudan and Syria have neither signed nor ratified”) to also do so.
The chattering classes who were hoping for a lovely new war to break up the tedium of their lives must be disappointed at this turn of events, although they can always hope that something will happen to cause the deal to unravel and can begin to rev up the engines for war again. Meanwhile they will go back to their usual topics: Is this good for Obama? What impact will it have on the 2014 and 2016 elections? And what does this mean for Israel?
The civil war and the massive refugee problems still remain, of course.