Answering a question about how to avoid an attack, John Kerry opened a door for Syria and Russia immediately put on the table a proposal to destroy Al Assad’s chemical weapons. President Obama said to CNN that the Russian proposal could lead a “breakthrough”. “If we can accomplish this limited goal without taking military action, that would be my preference,” he said.
Sure. He (Bashar Al Assad) could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over, all of it, without delay, and allow a full and total accounting for that. But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously.
This answer by US Secretary of State John Kerry in London at the question if is there anything at this point that the Syrian government could do or offer that would stop an attack, prompted the immediate reaction of Russia with a proposal made by the foreign minister Sergei Lavrov that contemplates Syria giving his chemical arms to an international control for its further destruction.
“We don’t know whether Syria will agree with this, but if the establishment of international control over chemical weapons in the country will prevent attacks, then we will immediately begin work with Damascus. And we will call on the Syrian leadership to not only agree to putting the chemical weapons storage sites under international control but also to their subsequent destruction,” said Lavrov
The State Department said that Kerry’s answer opening a door to avoid an attack was “rhetorical” and they are skeptical with Bashar Al Assad reaction. But hours after that, president Obama in an interview with CNN said that Russia’s proposal for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons to international control was a “potentially positive development,” but could be a stall tactic.
“We’re going to run this to ground,”
Obama said in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, adding that the United States will work with Syrian ally Russia and the international community “to see if we can arrive at something that is enforceable and serious.”
Obama said the new proposal that emerged Monday from Russia resulted from his threat to attack Syria for violating an international ban on using chemical weapons.
“If we can accomplish this limited goal without taking military action, that would be my preference,” Obama said. “On the other hand, if we don’t maintain and move forward without a credible threat of military pressure, I don’t think we’ll actually get the kind of agreement I’d like to see.”
Obama told ABC that there was no time limit for an agreement.
Syria welcomed Russia’s proposal Monday, in an implicit admission for the first time that it has chemical weapons.
Obama’s Administration continue looking for support in Congress for the airstrikes against Syria. They said that the vote is important even with the Russian proposal on the table, because such a move would be unthinkable without the military pressure over the Syrian regime. In the Congress there are division and the public opinion is mostly against the intervention according to the polls.
Meanwhile, the war in Syria continues with more killed, wounded, disappeared and displaced each day. Addressing the opening of the 24th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the international community
“is late, very late to take serious joint action to halt the downward spiral that has gripped Syria”
According to the UN there are more than 100.000 killed, 2 million refugees, 4.25 million internal displaced.
“This appalling situation cries out for international action, yet a military response or the continued supply of arms risk igniting a regional conflagration, possibly resulting in many more deaths and even more widespread misery,” “there are no easy exits, no obvious pathways out of this nightmare,” Member States, together with the UN, must find a way to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table.