Amid celebratory gunfire and cheers from Assad loyalists, foreign militias under Iranian command and troops loyal to the regime on Monday captured about 90 percent of the opposition-held areas of eastern Aleppo.
The last hope of the besieged rebels, most of whom seem to have withdrawn in the face of certain defeat, had been to receive reinforcements or resupplies from their counterparts in the southern and western suburbs. That option has now been foreclosed upon as these routes are completely interdicted by the regime.
Even the White House concedes that Assad may not have turned over all of his chemical weapons
Updated Aug. 20, 2014 8:29 p.m. ET
It wasn’t long ago that President Obama boasted of getting Syria to surrender its chemical weapons without firing a shot. “It turned out that we are actually getting all the chemical weapons,” Mr. Obama told the New Yorker last November. “And nobody reports that anymore.”
But it turned out there was a good reason to hold the applause. On Monday the White House released a statement in the President’s name celebrating the destruction of Bashar Assad’s declared stocks of chemical weapons aboard the MV Cape Ray, a U.S. ship fitted with specialized hydrolysis systems that neutralize sarin and other deadly agents.
Then came the caveat. “We will watch closely to see that Syria fulfills its commitment to destroy its remaining declared chemical weapons production facilities,” the statement read. “In addition, serious questions remain with respect to the omissions and discrepancies in Syria’s declaration to the OPCW and about continued allegations of use.”
The OPCW is the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Hague -based outfit that has overseen the removal of 1,300 tons of chemical agents from Syria. The organization complained for months that Damascus was slow-rolling the disarmament process as it continued to starve and bomb its enemies into submission. In April the Assad regime began dropping chlorine bombs against civilian targets. Chlorine violates the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria joined last year as part of the deal that Mr. Obama used to celebrate.
Then there are those “omissions and discrepancies” cited by the President. We are not privy to the intelligence, but every source we talk to says the Syrians have surely not declared everything in their possession. It’s also hard to believe the Administration would underline the defects in its own purported achievement if there weren’t serious doubts among U.S. spooks about the completeness of the Syrian declaration.
Syria maintains close ties to North Korea, which is believed to have a robust chemical weapons program capable of producing several thousand tons of deadly agents a year. In July 2007 reports surfaced of a chemical-weapons accident near Aleppo involving Syrian and North Korean technicians. That squares with Pyongyang’s known cooperation at the time in building a nuclear reactor for Assad that was destroyed that September by Israeli jets. If North Korea was prepared to supply Assad with deadly weapons then, why not again tomorrow?
Then there is China. In April videos surfaced of partially unexploded chlorine canisters marked with the name of Chinese arms-maker Norinco. The Assad regime also likely retains the network of scientists and engineers needed to reconstitute a weapons program once it feels secure enough to do so.
That day may not be far off, thanks in part to the chemical deal that spared Assad from U.S. bombing as he unleashed a new offensive against moderate rebel forces. Assad’s troops have now encircled the city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest, and leaders of the Free Syrian Army trapped in the city are stockpiling food in preparation of a regime effort to starve them into submission. The moderate rebels are also losing ground to the Sunni radicals of ISIS.
“We’re about to lose Aleppo and no one cares,” an FSA spokesman told the Journal last week. “We won’t be able to recover the revolution if this happens. And we’ll lose the moderates of Syria.”
In other words, no matter what happens to Syria’s chemical weapons, the country’s real weapons of mass destruction—the Assad regime and ISIS—have gained in their destructive power. Such has been the result of Mr. Obama’s abdication of global leadership, now cloaked as a triumph for disarmament.
August 26, 2013 § Leave a Comment
So much lazy thinking. Here’s an agit-prop picture doing the rounds, the sort to appeal to the George Galloway crowd. And here’s my comment: “Except it isn’t familiar. In one case they wanted to invade and used chemical weapons as an excuse. There were no chemical weapons. In the other case a genocide has been going on for over two years, they don’t want to invade, don’t even want to arm the people resisting, they don’t have the economic power or pliant international scene to do so even if they wanted; and chemical weapons not only exist, they have been used on a vast scale. Oppose potential US air attacks against Assad bases if you like, but don’t insult the victims of genocide while you’re doing it.”
A Short Guide to the Middle East. And here’s Idrees’s response to that:
“To the hundreds of people who’ve been passing this fatuous bit of village-idiocy around, let me explain a few things:
1) States, like individuals, balance competing and contradictory interests. Like you, after two of your friends brawl, they don’t disown one to please the other.
2) States are not unitary, self-aware entities, whose interests are constant and indivisible. Like you, they carry in them multiple impulses and their attitudes towards others change based which impulses predominate under a given circumstance.
3) You might resent the tendency to treat the east as somehow exceptional and throw words like “orientalism” around, but like bad breath, you only notice it when others others have it. (Or perhaps the US is really a middle eastern country since it treated Communism as the ultimate evil but allied itself with Stalin to defeat Hitler; and then with right-wing Germans to defeat Communism. It was allied with France, yet supported Algerian independence. And so on ).
4) You have very little regard for facts. (Obama is anti-Sisi and is backing the Muslim Brotherhood? Really?)
5) Since you expect that states should be as one dimensional as Ayn Rand characters, you are unfit to comment on the Middle East or international affairs.”