Is Assad going to hand over the chemical weapons?


Is Assad going to hand over the chemical weapons?

Эксперты МГИМО: Сушенцов Андрей Андреевич, к.полит.н.

In a sudden shift an agreement has been devised that just may avert a US intervention in the Syrian civil war. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad considered to a Russian proposal for him to hand over to the international community all of the nation’s chemical weapons.


The tentative plan came about after the US Secretary of State John Kerry stated that such a resolution might stave off an attack by the US.

And President Obama in an address to the country Tuesday asked Congress to delay its vote on a Syrian strike to let the UN hammer out the new plan.

This all started from a chemical weapons attack Assad is accused of deploying on a Damascus suburb in late August.

The question now — how realistic is a deal requiring Assad to give up the weapons? How complicated would such a venture be? Does the US need to trust Assad or does this require boots on the ground?

To help us answer all of these questions we now have in studio here in Washington Greg Thielmann, senior fellow of the Arms Control Association, former top intelligence official at the U. S. State Department. We also have Robert Parry, founder of and an author of «A Dodgy Dossier on Syrian War» Parry’s books include America’s Stolen Narrative.

In our Moscow studio we have Andrey Sushentsov, political analyst from Moscow State University of International relations, expert in US foreign policy. We also have there Alexander Kuznetsov, vice president of the Geo-Arabica Center.

And in London we have Jag Singh, political and digital strategist and a former Senior Advisor to Hillary Clinton for Presidential Campaign.

VoR: Let’s start with you, Greg. Because of your position, you’d be the person best to go ahead and answer this. How realistic is the deal requiring Assad to give up the weapons? Is it possible?

Greg Thielmann: It is a very complicated venture. It is difficult, but doable. The international community has faced some very tough challenges in the past: getting rid of Libya’s chemical weapons, the saga of Iraq chemical weapons, which was actually a success before the US and Britain invaded, which I was very much against when it happened ten years ago. Now you have to have a strong backing from the UN Security Council for following the various steps. The first step is easy: Syria has to agree to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention.

VoR: And if Assad doesn’t do that, the US will invade!

Greg Thielmann: That is certainly what President Obama said his intention is. And I think that the Russians have taken that seriously. In order to avert the US attack, they’re pushing Assad to get rid of his chemical weapons.

VoR: The US still possess chemical weapons, despite the convention signed in 1993. Is it a political issue or does it suggest how complicated it is to get rid of chemical weapons?

Robert Parry: It is difficult, but it is also a political problem. Countries don’t like to get rid of the weapons they have. Syria is forced to actually fully disarm itself, while the country has concerns whether Israel is going to attack them. That’s one of the reasons why Syria has kept chemical weapons.

VoR: The US knew about Israel’s and Hussein’s chemical weapons, but they only pressure Assad. Isn’t it hypocritical?

Greg Thielmann: The obvious conclusion is the US doesn’t care much about chemical weapons, but they are very eager to do anything which would hurt the Iranian regime and create a regime-change in Teheran. So that’s something we have to deal with. But that’s not Obama’s fault, that’s a fault of the US administration in the 90s and 80s that chose to turn a blind eye to outrageous use of chemical weapons over a very long period leaving I’ve heard a hundred thousand Iranians still suffering today from those attacks 25 years ago. So hypocrisy is an issue, Israel is an issue. The US should and the UN Security Council should issue an urgent call for Israel also to ratify the CWC. They have at least signed, unlike Egypt which has neither signed, nor ratified. So this is a perfect occasion to say that Israel needs to at least ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention, which it can now do, if Syria does; and also to say that the US and other members of the UN are committed to Middle East Weapons-of-Mass-Destruction Free Zone Conference which hasn’t yet taken place.

VoR: How is the US foreign policy in regards to chemical weapons perceived around the world?

Andrey Sushentsov: What is of premiere importance — is the perception of the US’ unilateral steps. The hesitation of American leadership towards these chemical weapons in Syria is not very well understood internationally. The question No1 for everybody outside the U.S., I think, is the tradition of this unilateral behavior where America uses power to resolve some quite complex international issues, like the one in Iraq or in Libya or right now in Syria. In Russia we do understand that US position on Syria indeed has some political bias. And we remember instances of first American use of chemical weapons during conflicts which happened at the second half of the 20th century. And we understand quite pragmatically that international circumstances change and the position of the US and its presidents also changes. So thus, in Russia we do believe in international law, but we don’t see that all the parties involved in maintaining this international law on chemical weapons are involved in having this regime well-grounded in its behavior.

VoR: Alexander, what do you think of Bashar Al Asad’s position? He said that Syria will submit to this agreement by the UN and he also said that they haven’t decided to hand over the weapons because of American threats.

Alexander Kuznetsov: Assad’s position depends on Russia-Syria relationship. Russia supported Syrian government in the course of the past two years of the civil war, because Russia doesn’t only blame President Assad and his government of the atrocities in Syria and the growing violence, it blames the violence on both sides. It was not in Assad’s interest to use the weapons. Syria perceives Russia as guarantor of Syrian sovereignty.

VoR: Andrey, I want to go back to you for a second. The Convention was ratified in 1997 — we’re talking about the International Convention on Chemical Weapons. But Russia and the US both still have chemical weapons. The two biggest players in discussing of what should happen both have chemical weapons. Isn’t that an international policy issue that isn’t being addressed sufficiently?

Andrey Sushentsov: You know, I don’t think, that is the issue. Inside Syria many more people have died not from chemical weapons. US, Russia and three other countries have publically claimed that they have nuclear weapons and these are weapons of mass destruction. If they are used, it is of grave concern for everybody. But the current international crisis is not because of the chemical weapons, but of other types of weapons — light armament.

VoR: Jag, how people around the world perceive the US? Is Obama doing the job?

Jag Singh: This isn’t simply about Syria. The US has stated a condition that committed to the intervention. If it doesn’t act when there’s a clear violation. We’re not talking about that it’s wrong for Syria to have those weapons. We’re saying that it’s wrong for Syria and the Syrian regime to have used those weapons on its own citizens. I think the US has learnt to be considered not just with unfriendly regimes, but also what could follow such regimes — Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya — they’ve driven home the principle that deposing one regime means leaving with, I guess you could call it, an imperfect successor. In those sorts of interventions the outcome hasn’t been worth the price. But in Syria, where you have the insurgents Sunni-Muslims whose best-organized factions have ties to al-Qaeda, it raises a whole bunch of different arguments. And the main point, again, — this isn’t simply about Syria, it’s also about the US, and it’s about the President Obama trying to call President Putin a bluff. It’s a real mass and there’s no better way to put it.

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Источник: «Voice of Russia»
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