Monday, February 15, 2016

Red Lines: What Ever Happened to Syria's Chemical Weapons

Syria Did Not Declare All of Its Chemical Weapons - Armin Rosen 

In August 2014, the Obama administration declared that Syria's chemical stockpile had been destroyed.  However, on Feb. 9, 2016, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a Senate committee:

"We assess that Syria has not declared all the elements of its chemical weapons program to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Despite the creation of a specialized team and months of work by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to address gaps and inconsistencies in Syria's declaration, numerous issues remain unresolved."

"Moreover, we continue to judge that the Syrian regime has used chemicals as a means of warfare since accession to the CWC in 2013."
(Business Insider)


A Mini World War Rages in Aleppo, Syria - Liz Sly

In the northern Syrian province of Aleppo, a battle with global dimensions risks erupting into a wider war. Russian warplanes are bombing. Iraqi and Lebanese militias aided by Iranian advisers are advancing on the ground. An assortment of Syrian rebels backed by the U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are fighting back. Kurdish forces allied both to Washington and Moscow are extending Kurdish territories. The Islamic State has snatched a couple of small villages while all the focus was on the other groups.

The Aleppo offensive is affirming Moscow's stature as a dominant regional power. The advances by Shiite Iraqi and Lebanese militias are extending the sway of Iran far beyond the traditional Shiite axis of influence into Sunni areas of northern Syria. Almost all of the advances are being made by Lebanese Hizbullah, the Iraqi Badr Brigade, Harakat al-Nujaba and other Iraqi Shiite militias sponsored by Iran.
(Washington Post)

Israel Skeptical of Syria Ceasefire - Dan Williams

"The situation in Syria is very complex, and it is hard to see how the war and mass killing there are stopped," Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said in Munich. "Syria as we have known it will not be united anew in the foreseeable future, and at some point I reckon that we will see enclaves, whether organized or not, formed by the various sectors that live and are fighting there....As long as Iran is in Syria, the country will not return to what it was, and it will certainly find it difficult to become stable as a country that is divided into enclaves, because the Sunni forces there will not allow this."

Ram Ben-Barak, director general of Israel's Intelligence Ministry, told Israel's Army Radio: "Ultimately Syria should be turned into regions, under the control of whoever is there - the Alawites where they are, the Sunnis where they are....I can't see how a situation can be reached where those same 12% Alawites go back to ruling the Sunnis, of whom they killed half a million people there." An Assad victory in Aleppo, Ben-Barak said, "will not solve the problem because the battles will continue. You have ISIS there and the rebels will not lay down their weapons."  

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