On Tuesday, the U.N. mediator for the Syrian war quit, and France accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of using chemical weapons — primarily
chlorine bombs — at least 14 times after agreeing to give up his chemical-weapons arsenal.
This sentence from a New York Times report sums up the implications:
“Taken together, the two events pointed to the failings of the West’s signature efforts on Syria, finding a diplomatic way out of a civil war in its fourth year — and a pact that was proudly touted as stopping the Syrian government from using chemical weapons,” Somini Sengutapta and Michael R. Gordon wrote.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has continually said that peace talks are the only resolution of Syrian war, and President Barack Obama has repeatedly taken credit for securing a deal to remove Assad’s chemical arsenal.
Reality has now set in. The grinding military conflict continues as Assad, amid a re-election campaign, drops chlorine bombs out of helicopters on civilian centres.
Further, the Syrian ruler is holding onto 27 tons of sarin precursor chemicals as leverage against the international community’s demand that the tunnels and buildings that were used to store the weapons must be destroyed.
After Assad dropped dozens of gallons of sarin on the suburbs of Damascus in August, killing more than 1,000 people, the Obama administration opted for Russia’s offer for a deal to remove Assad’s chemical weapons instead of a limited cruise-missile strike on the regime’s mountain military facilities and airport runways.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, breaking from Obama’s argument, expressed regret that the U.S. chose to make Assad an international partner instead of using force to deter the regime’s indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
Basically, it was an admission that the West’s Syria policy has failed.
“Assad has not stopped using chemical agents on civilians even as Obama delivered peace in our time without firing a single missile at Syria,” Michael Weiss wrote recently. “In fact, as the deadline for the removal of Assad’s chemical stocks has approached, the dictator has increased the use of them.”
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