When Syrian President Bashar al-Assad crossed former US President Barack Obama’s “red line” by using chemical weapons, instead of responding with military force, Obama made a deal — but now former Obama administrations are saying it may not have worked.
“If the Syrian government carried out the attack and the agent was sarin, then clearly the 2013 agreement didn’t succeed” in eliminationg Assad’s chemical weapons, Robert Einhorn, the State Department special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control under Obama told the New York Times.
“Either he didn’t declare all his C.W. [chemical weapons] and kept some hidden in reserve, or he illegally produced some sarin after his stock was eliminated — most likely the former.”
Obama’s deal relied on the Russians to carry out inspections and remove Assad’s chemical weapons in 2013, before Russian troops and warplanes officially entered the conflict in October 2015.
“For me, this tragedy underscores the dangers of trying to do deals with dictators without a comprehensive, invasive and permanent inspection regime,” Michael McFaul, Obama’s ambassador to Russia told The Times. “It also shows the limits of doing deals with Putin. Surely, the Russians must have known about these C.W.”
The assessment of the former diplomats under Obama fits with more recent statements from current President Donald Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said that Russia was either complicit or incompetent in removing Assad’s chemical weapons.
While Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry have defended their move to seek a deal instead of using force against Syria by saying Congress denied them the authorization to act, Obama’s administration did not seek congressional authorization for strikes in Libya and Yemen, as it is not required by the law in practice.
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