Monday, September 9, 2013

Should Assad give up his chemical weapons to avoid a US attack? (Not quiet another Bosnia redux!) (UPDATED!!!!)

The BBC is reporting this:

Syria crisis: Russia urges Assad to give up chemical weapons
Russia has asked Syria to put its chemical weapons stockpile under "international control" in a bid to avoid US military strikes, and then have them destroyed.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the offer was made during talks with his Syrian counterpart, and he hoped for a quick response from Damascus. (...)  When asked at a news conference whether there was anything Mr Assad could do to avoid military action, Mr Kerry replied that he could hand over his entire stockpile of chemical weapons within the next week. US officials later clarified that Mr Kerry was making a "rhetorical argument" rather than a serious offer.  However, Mr Lavrov later called on Syria to "place the chemical weapons under international control and then have them destroyed".  He said the offer had been made to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem during talks in Moscow.
 Very interesting idea indeed.  But does it make sense?

There is  a terrible precedent to this idea: the US and NATO bullied the Krajina-Serbs and the Bosnian-Serbs to agree to place all their "heavy weapons" (anything bigger than a machine gun!) under United Nations control.  We know what happened after: the US/NATO attacked from the air while Croat and NATO special forces attacked on the ground.  The Serbs could not get to their weapons, while Milosevic ordered the Federal Forces to retreat.  I can even reveal the following here (Saker exclusive! This was never reported before because nobody cares about the "evil Serbs"):

The attacking US/NATO forces contacted the UN forces which were supposed to "defend" the UNPAs (UN Protection Areas) and ordered the peacekeepers to immediately get the hell out of the way.  The UN forces were ordered to obey by the UNPROFOR command.  The UNPAs were all occupied and the Serbs "ethnically cleansed".

That is, of course, a terrible precedent.  However, there is a *HUGE* difference between the Serbs giving up their so-called "heavy" weapons and the Syrians giving up their chemical weapons: for the Serbs their weapons were crucial for their defense, whereas Syria has no use for its chemical weapons in the current war and, I would argue, has no use for them even in case of an Israeli attack.  This is not the place to discuss the Syrian deterrence doctrine, but I will say for the record that I find it deeply flawed.

I have always believed that chemical weapons are useless and that also applies to Syria.

So yes, emphatically yes, this could be the way out: let the Syrian put their chemical weapons under international control, let them agree to have the US, NATO or the Gulf States pay for their destruction and let that idiot Obama claim a huge success in forcing the evil dictator to give up his weapons of mass destruction.  Even the Zionist Lobby would have to agree that this is good for Israel :-)

However, if the US walks away with that kind of agreement, then that would also mean that they would give up on regime change.  The insurgency would be allowed to peter out and the Assad regime would remain in power.

Finally, yes, I know that the US, Israel and the KSA can claim that "Assad hid his WMD" like they did with Saddam Hussein, but at the point the momentum for war will be close to zero.  So at the very least, this is an excellent diversionary tactic to buy Assad more time.

I say that this is a much better solution than a regional war and an absolutely brilliant move by Lavrov.  Hopefully the Syrians will agree within the next few hours and then, hopefully, this will tip the balance even if the folks at the White House understand that they have been skillfully out-maneuvered.

What is your take on that, do you agree?

The Saker

UPDATE2: "United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said Monday that he is considering urging the Security Council to demand the Syrian government immediately hand over its chemical weapons to be destroyed."