There’s little reason to take seriously Bashar Al Assad’s sudden embrace of Secretary of State John Kerry’s most recent statements about chemical weapons disarmament.
First, there’s still an incredibly violent war going on in Syria.
Disarming Iraq of its chemical weapons in the 90s took several years and the full cooperation of a government in relative control of its borders.
Assad — who controls the largest stockpile of chemicals in the world — does not control his borders and may not cooperate, as we saw when UN inspectors arrived in Syria and had their access to chemical attack sites delayed by five days.
Making matters worse, the UN team that went into Iraq 1998 was later disbanded under allegations Washington had used them to spy on the regime. Certainly Assad remembers that.
Then there’s Assad’s last two promises. In 2011 he promised to maintain a ceasefire and release detainees, and allow journalists into the country. Didn’t happen. Then last year, during Ramadan, Assad promised a ceasefire to observe the holiday. That also didn’t happen.
Certainly Assad’s recent interviews should show he’s willing to say anything to stay in power (knowing ousted dictators don’t fair too well).
He talks of Zionist conspiracies and the American boogieman to Syrian news agencies, then turns around to American media and says, in English, that US strikes would help “the same people that killed Americans in the 11th of September.”
Certainly the U.S. should give due process to any possible outcome that results in lowered guns, but just as certain is the fact that the 9/11-invoking Assad will say anything, promise anything, to stay afloat.
Washington shouldn’t hold its breath.
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