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Russian/U.S. cooperation? « Previous | |Next »
September 13, 2013

If there is an agreement in Geneva this week on the Russian proposal for Syria’s chemical weapons to be declared, verified, stockpiled and destroyed, then that would be a welcome first step towards a diplomatic solution that would forestall a U.S. military strike.

Diplomacy in the past hasn't worked because of the opposition of Russia and China for two and a half years despite the Assad regime following a clear strategy from day one to do whatever it takes to stay in power. The Assad regime shows no inhibitions of using massive force, even resorting to chemical warfare.

David Rowe

However, a political solution to forestall a U.S. military strike and head off a wider military conflict in the Middle East would be just a starting point. Over 100,000 people have been killed by conventional weapons.

Given the superiority of President Assad’s forces in conventional weapons, the removal of the regime’s chemical weapons, would do nothing to stop the civil war. Addressing the civil war and avoiding and all out regional war is the key.

The US and the UK say that Syria will not be the next Iraq in that intervention can be limited to punitive strikes instead of protracted engagement. This idea of a quick operation that relinquishes them of responsibility to remain engaged in Syria ignores the complexity of the sectarian, ideological and geopolitical divisions in Syria and its region. In the wider Middle East, despite the brutality of the Assad regime, this intervention will be seen as yet one more example of Western interference, following Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya.

Syria has managed to take over the U.S. foreign-policy agenda for a time when there really aren't truly vital US interests involved and the effort of public opinion to prevent the slide down the slippery slope to another disastrous war.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:12 AM | | Comments (7)


Syria has been a useful distraction. The NSA revelations, if not forgotten, are not on the front page.

The threat of US missile attacks, with the Assad government providing a convenient pretext, is part of the history of imperial intervention, including the imperial boundaries.

Any just resolution with a prospect of a just and democratic future is likely to include all the countries,including Turkey, Iraq and Iran, if the Kurds are given a nation state, a redistribution of the oil wealth, and recognition of the rights of Palestinians.

Syria has been a longstanding Russian ally in the region and provides strategic military bases whose loss would seriously weaken Russia. America attacking Syria would be the equivalent of Russia attacking Turkey. It is an indication of American arrogance (or blindness) that they would contemplate an act of war against such a key Russian ally without apparently recognising the implications, and presumably Putin took the opportunity of the G20 meeting to educate Obama about them in unambiguous language.

The end result will probably be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons again, which means Obama will achieve his ostensible goal anyway. But foreign policy is clearly neither his strongpoint nor much of an interest of his (the one probably explains the other) and John Kerry's abysmal performance has been a real worry. It suggests that for the next three years, the world's only superpower is going to proceed in somewhat aimless fashion on the global stage. That will be fine if it means incremental withdrawal from Project for a New American Century-style imperialism; not so fine if it means a series of random. short-sighted reactions to events.

if the US and Russia strike a deal at Geneva, and the government of president Bashar al-Assad does not rescind its application to join the chemical weapons convention (CWC), then the inspectors could soon be embarking on a task that has never been attempted: disarming a country of its weapons of mass destruction in the midst of a war.

Wish them luck

Syria is due to become a state party to the CWC on 11 October, 30 days after the president sent his application letter to the UN on Thursday. Syria would then be legally bound by the convention prohibiting production, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons.

The government in Damascus would then have another 30 days to produce a full declaration of all its chemical agents, both in weapons and in bulk storage, as well as precursor chemicals, production facilities and delivery systems.

Yes, Syria must learn that killing people by blowing their arms and legs off, blowing up buildings and crushing them slowly or just shooting them is OK.
As long as they don't make them cough too while dying.

A stalemate that leads to a ceasefire should be encouraged, as it is probably the best end result that is possible at this point. Peace negotiations will lead nowhere, but anything that reduces or ends the bloodshed should be considered.

This is the ever-disastrous pattern to the Syria conflict: rebels take a town doing its best to mind its own business, and the regime comes to the defense of the town and destroys it in the process.