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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Syria According to my brother...

September 21, 2013  
The White House is spinning the agreement with the Russians over Syrian chemical weapons as an example of President Obama’s diplomatic skill—if only this wasn’t just spin and inaccurate spin at that. Even the State Department sought to minimize Secretary Kerry’s casual statement on disarming Syria of chemical weapons. Now that there is this agreement will the White House be claiming credit when this agreement gives Assad the upper hand in the ongoing civil war?

Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham criticized the deal struck by the US and Russia regarding the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. McCain and Graham said the deal would give the Syrian president, Assad, time "to delay and deceive" while the country's civil war continued. The statement said: "It requires a willful suspension of disbelief to see this agreement as anything other than the start of a diplomatic blind alley, and the Obama administration is being led into it by Bashar Assad and [Russian president] Vladimir Putin."

Graham is reported to beplanning to introduce a bill in the Senate calling for air attacks in support of the rebels. McCain and Graham were both proponents of an attack on Syria that would aid the rebels to gain the upper hand in the civil war. Their statement doesn’t say it but they probably understand that the agreement gives Assad a true advantage in the civil war. The UN forces moving into Syria to secure the chemical weapons will be in the middle of active combat areas. If the rebels attack them then world opinion will turn against them. If they move away from the areas where the UN forces are they give up hard fought for terrain and cannot capture the chemical weapons that the Al Qaeda elements so wanted for other purposes. The agreement allows Assad to free up forces from the chemical weapons security mission and he is free to use those forces in combating the rebels. Sounds like a tactical advantage for Assad to me.

Additionally Assad is now trying to gain further leverage by claiming that part of the agreement should include that the West cannot arm the rebels. At the same time the Russians continue to introduce “proof” that the rebels launched the chemical attack.

The Jerusalem Post is claiming that 20 trucks of chemical weapons left Syria and are now in Iraq for safeguarding. (Saddam’s weapons returned to Iraq?) If this is true then it is truly a big win for Assad. He has all of the advantages of the international agreement and retains sufficient weapons to do what he may need to do.

The biggest winner is Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has shown that Russia is a major player in the middle-east in spite of its internal weaknesses. He has called into question the credibility of the US as a patron to many middle-eastern states and has shown the US President to be incapable of matching him in the ability to “play the game” While the Obama administration is spinning a “win” the reality is a huge loss. They are starting to realize this as they talk about the military option still being on the table, but is it? After the claims of victory how can they claim that they were deceived and then attack? The whole situation is not desirable but it may be until 2014 when the disarmament is supposed to begin that the reality becomes truly apparent. Is this before or after the election? Everything else is being pushed to after the election. Is there a message there?

The real loser in this whole farce is the credibility of the United States and its president.
Bruce B. G. Clarke
Lt. Col. Army Ret.
Past Eisenhower Chair
National Security Studies
Army War College

Posted By Cindy Carnahan At 9:02 AM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
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