Random posts on all sorts of things designed to inform and provoke.
Yesterday’s news that the former Soviet Union and Syria had agreed to an off-hand proposal by US Secretary of State John Kerry that Damascus turn over its chemical weapons to the international community is symptomatic of the Middle East where everything changes at the drop of an Abaya.
In response to this development, the US president has asked the country’s Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force that he had requested a little more than a week ago.
Obviously, this is a positive development for the Obama administration since its chances of getting congressional approval for a campaign against President Assad seemed to be getting dimmer by the day and the change of events has provided it a way out of a very embarrassing failure.
On the other hand, Washington has also been completely outmaneuvered by Moscow as the latter now looks like the proverbial knight in shining armor who flew in from nowhere and rescued the damsel from the evil ogre. (By the way, I hope that the image of Assad as a damsel is as disturbing to all of you as it is to me.)
I am not a big fan of how Washington has handled this crisis. Developments in Syria have shown the US administration’s incompetence and misunderstanding of international affairs, the Middle East and, most surprisingly, domestic political affairs.
However, it must be accepted that if Syria does turn its arsenal of chemical weapons over to the international committee then it would have done so because of pressure from the United States.
We, as a general public, clearly do not know whether Assad used chemical weapons on his people but we do know that Damascus has had chemical weapons for decades and has held tight control over them.
Therefore, by agreeing to turn over these weapons to someone else, Assad also gives up a significant strategic advantage; a step it undoubtedly took because of pressure from US warships anchored off its coast.
It remains to be seen though, whether anything substantive will come from this proposal. There are a number of reasons for my skepticism and they are due to the following questions:
Will Syria turn over all of its weapons, how difficult will it be secure them and who will take control of them – Thursday’s meeting of the United Nations Security Council has been cancelled following disagreements between France, Russia and the US over a proposed agreement.
Clearly, there are a number of items that need to be sorted out but the one thing that is perfectly obvious is that the Middle East has once again shown its contradictory nature by delaying war due to pressure from a US president while simultaneously making him like naïve and unknowledgeable about politics.