Syrian "Deal" Fraught With Peril

By:  Bob Adelmann
09/16/2013
       
Syrian "Deal" Fraught With Peril

The Syrian agreement hammered out between the United States and Russia damages American interests while emboldening her enemies.

The diplomatic agreement reached on Saturday between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, following three days of intense negotiations in Geneva, provides support for America’s enemies while giving President Obama a little breathing room. Nothing was resolved but much was delayed.

The agreement gives Syrian President Assad just one week to hand over details of his regime’s chemical weapons arsenal, including a “comprehensive listing, including names, types, and quantities of its chemical weapons agents, types of munitions, and location and form of storage, production, and research and development facilities.” It is estimated that Assad’s arsenal is dispersed among 45 different sites throughout the war-torn country, some of which may now be threatened by rebel forces. How Assad will be able to comply is problematic at best.

In addition, UN arms inspectors must be allowed access to those facilities no later than the middle of November, and destruction of them must be completed no later than the summer of 2014. Alternatively, his weapons, consisting of 1,000 tons of chemical agents and precursors, must be transferred to some international facility under the control of the UN.

Syrian officials were delighted with the agreement. Said Syrian Minister Ali Haidar, “We welcome the agreement. It helps the Syrians emerge from the crisis and … it has allowed for averting war against Syria. It’s a victory for Syria that was achieved by our Russian friends.”

On the other hand, after reviewing the plan’s details, Fred Fleitz, chief analyst and founder of LIGNET.com, called it a “toothless agreement” that will be difficult if not impossible to enforce:

It says that Syria will be referred to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions [if it fails to abide by the agreement] but the Russians have already said that they’re not going to tolerate authorization of the use of force….

The Syrian government has a history of not cooperating with international teams. With the lack of … enforcement, it’s hard to see why they’re going to cooperate.

If there’s a violation, the Syrians will deny it. The Russians will back them up. There’s a lot of trouble on the horizon.

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photo of Bashar al-Assad (right) with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

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