Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Obama Pulls Back Syria Threat
Obama Push to Hit Syria Takes Detour - Carole E. Lee & Janet Hook
President Barack Obama's campaign for an attack on Syria took an unexpected turn as his administration inadvertently gave the Assad regime a potential way out that spawned second thoughts on Capitol Hill and enthusiasm among international opponents of a military strike.
After Secretary of State John Kerry suggested in off-the-cuff comments that President Bashar al-Assad could avert an attack by promptly handing his chemical weapons to the international community, Russia declared its support and quickly got Damascus on board.
The shift, which Mr. Obama called "a potentially positive development," paused a Senate debate and complicated the president's pitch...
(Wall Street Journal)
Dismantling Chemical Weapons Could Take Years - Phil Stewart
Any deal with Syria to hand over its chemical weapons in the middle of a civil war would be difficult for inspectors to enforce and destroying them would likely take years, U.S. officials and experts caution.
Syria's chemical arms cache is believed to be spread over dozens of locations and it would be difficult to shield arms inspectors from violence.
Brig.-Gen. Mustafa al-Sheikh, a Syrian army defector, said that most of the chemical weapons have been transported to Alawite areas in Latakia and near the coast, though some chemical munitions remain in bases around Damascus.
Assad Could Win without Chemical Weapons - Avi Issacharoff
If Assad agrees to Moscow's suggestion to hand over the chemical weapons he has, not only could he avoid a U.S. military strike, he'll also preserve the current situation in Syria, which gives him and his army an advantage over the disorganized and fragmented opposition.
Over the past year Assad has used chemical weapons around 13 times, mainly for tactical reasons - like conquering an area and clearing it of opposition fighters and local population.
The incident outside Damascus on Aug. 21 was an exception. Assad can reach similar results using conventional weapons alone.
(Times of Israel)
Putin's Desperate Attempt to Save Assad - Ron Ben-Yishai
If Syria will be given time to hide a certain amount of its chemical weapons, and if Syria will not be forced to destroy its chemical weapons, then the agreement will not be worth anything. In addition, should the negotiations on an agreement drag on, Syria will be able to transfer at least part of its chemical weapons arsenal to Hizbullah in Lebanon. Such a development would be just as bad for Israel as having the WMDs fall into the hands of the jihadists in Syria.
Russian-Brokered Deal a Mixed Blessing for Israel - Herb Keinon
If Syrian President Assad honors the deal - a huge "if" - then a very deadly weapon will be removed from Israel's doorstep. Israel would also be relieved of worrying that these chemical weapons could be transferred to Hizbullah or other terrorist organizations. While the assessments in Jerusalem have long been that Assad would be reluctant to use his chemical weapons against Israel because of fear of retribution, radical terrorists might not harbor a similar fear or even care about the payback.
The bad news is that Assad is left standing, which sends the message to Iran: No worries, this world won't interfere, you can get away with it. Even if Assad has to forfeit his WMD stockpile, he will still literally get away with murder. Assad is now turning his country from an Iranian proxy into an Iranian client state. If he survives, it will be because of Russian political cover and Iranian and Hizbullah physical and material assistance.
The main peril to Israel right now is not the Sunni terrorists, but rather the possibility of an Iranian-led Shi'ite axis - one that soon could be armed with nuclear weapons - stretching from Iran through Iraq, Syria and into Lebanon. Iran remains Israel's principal threat today, a threat that becomes existential if it gains nuclear arms. As such, anything that benefits Iran is bad for Jerusalem. Assad remaining in power benefits Iran.
Obama's Diplomatic Acrobatics -Daniel Pipes, PhD
Lurching from self-imposed trap (the "red line" statement) to self-inflicted crisis (the need for congressional approval), the administration erodes the credibility of the U.S. government and increases the dangers facing Americans. Enemies of the United States, its allies, and modern civilization itself will take succor in this ignominious performance and grow in strength.
[National Review Online]