U.S. and Russia Reach Ambitious Syria Chemical Weapons Deal

Surprising skeptics, deal calls for UN inspections by November—but may also bolster Assad

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Larry Downing / REUTERS

Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) shake hands after making statements following meetings regarding Syria, at a news conference in Geneva September 14, 2013.

A high-stakes diplomatic summit aimed at averting a military strike has yielded a plan between the United States and Russia to rid Syria of its chemical weapons and production capability by “in the first half of 2014,” according to a framework agreement released by the State Department Saturday.

After two days of meetings in Geneva, Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said they intend to formalize their deal as soon as possible at the United Nations Security Council. It would require Syria to provide a detailed list of its vast chemical weapons arsenal to the UN within a week, and to allow weapons inspectors access to chemical sites by November. Inspectors must be given “the immediate and unfettered right to inspect any and all sites in Syria,” according to the framework.

With Russia still opposed to any U.S. or U.N. military action against Syria, critics quickly noted the deal’s lack of clear enforcement provisions. “Absent the threat of force, it’s unclear to me how Syrian compliance will be possible under the terms of any agreement,” Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement. Still, the agreement brought relief to those who who think policing Syria should be a UN problem, instead of a congressional one. “I’m still reviewing the details and believe Syria’s willingness to follow through is very much an open question, but I remain supportive of a strong diplomatic solution to Syria’s use of chemical weapons,” Corker said. Many in Washington had doubted a deal could be reached at all.

Implementing the agreement could be a major challenge. General Salim Idris, head of Syria’s organized opposition, told TIME in an interview on Sept. 10 that although his forces have no chemical weapons, he would help UN inspectors in “any way needed.” But Idris opposes the Russia deal and posed a key question: How to assure secuity for the inspectors? “Syria is now in war. How will the United Nations inspectors move about the country when the country is in war?” Idris said. “The regime is lying, trust me, the regime is lying.”

The framework did not address Assad’s demand in a Russian television interview on Friday that in exchange for his cooperation the U.S. stop arming the Syrian rebels. And Assad could drag the process out for years, as former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein did, if at any point he stops cooperating. Syria experts worry that the deal could empower Assad and undermine the opposition. “If [Assad] becomes our interlocutor how do we square that with our statement that he’s no longer legitimate? How do we square that with our statements that he has no future role in Syria?” says Steve Heydemann, a Syria expert at the U.S. Institute for Peace. “In effect this reinforces his future role in Syria.”

The deal comes less than a month after the U.S. alleges that Assad used Sarin gas to kill anywhere from 400 to 1,600 people, according to various estimates, in a Damascus suburb. Assad and the Russians accuse the opposition of carrying out the attack, even though it occurred in an opposition-controlled area. The attack, the worst chemical weapons atrocity in more than 30 years, spurred international outrage and the U.S. moved five warships off the coast of Damascus in preparation for a punitive strike before President Barack Obama decided to go to Congress seeking a mandate. In the meantime, Russia offered this deal as an alternative and, facing enormous opposition from voters and Congress to unilateral strikes, Obama pursued the diplomatic path.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s spokesman said Ban welcomes the deal and “expresses his fervent hope that the agreement will, first, prevent any future use of chemical weapons in Syria and, second, help pave the path for a political solution to stop the appalling suffering inflicted on the Syrian people.” Previous UN Security Council votes on Syria had failed because Russia, a close ally of Assad’s, had blocked U.S. and European attempts to address the civil war.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague told Kerry in a call on Saturday: “The onus is now on the Assad regime to comply with this agreement in full. The international community, including Russia, must hold the regime to account. This includes doing everything we can to stop the continuing bloodshed in Syria, bringing all sides together to agree a political solution to the conflict.” Kerry is schedule to meet with Hague and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Paris on Monday to discuss the deal.

The Pentagon estimated two years ago that it would take 80,000 troops on the ground to secure Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile. Assuming Assad’s cooperation, this secures the weapons without risk to U.S. or allied forces. On the other hand, the deal does nothing to address Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal and a civil war that has killed more than 110,000 people and displaced more than two million refugees.

62 comments
jmac
jmac

Forget Syria.  Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told Mike Huckabee tonight that the whole thing went wrong "when Obama went to Congress."

So - in the next six months he's going to push a bi-partisan resolution through Congress giving Obama permission to use force in IRAN (!)  over  nuclear weapons, should Obama decide to do so, because we can't "leave our friends in Israel behind."    Since that's where Obama went wrong with Syria that would make sense :    

Because Obama's not a Republican and a Republican can get things through?

Because Graham's running for office? 

Because we skirted bombs dropping and he can't handle that? 

Because the entire Republican party including it's leaders have gone Rand-Paul, Cruz, Bachmann bat-sh#t crazy?  

Never mind - exBaptist minister  Huckabee is on to Benghazi.   Always the fall-back plan for impeachment (or for Hillary's impeachment)  now that Syria hasn't developed the way they were hoping it would.   


sparrow
sparrow

the lesser of two evils.  support the syrian rebels and you'd have another iraq/afghanistan situation. deal with assad and you suppress any effort towards islamism, avoid anymore instability and a chance to invite other nations' to solve the issue.

jmac
jmac

Republican leaders McCain and Graham decry the agreement.  They think it makes us look weak.   They state it doesn't resolve the civil war raging in Syria.

Want a war?  Vote Republican.   They apparently are God and can "resolve" the civil war raging in Syria.  It's a sad day when a Russian president looks more benevolent,  more reasonable, more intelligent than the leaders of the Republican party.   

IanBortner
IanBortner

I nearly broke down in tears of joy today when I saw the headlines.  FINALLY, someone put a stop to DC's death machine.  The entire world has rallied behind Russia to shut down the imperialistic schemes of the Federal government.  I almost can't believe it, after the years of bombings and innocents destroyed.  After the lies of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and all the other unlawful wars of aggression.  Obama's "peace" prize needs to be stripped and given to Putin, the hero who has saved the lives of countless thousands.  If we decide to end our wars now we can avoid the fate of Nazi Germany and Napoleon's France and start working on fixing the mess in our own country.  What a great day for freedom, peace, and the world!  I still fear the DC death machine may have a few tricks up it's sleeve to get this war started, but I believe Obama and the establishment are deathly afraid of the Russian juggernaut that is refusing to bow to the pressure of the West.  The only way to defeat a bully is to finally stand up to him with equal strength, and it appears that is what has happened.  All glory to Putin!  Long live the glorious nation of Russia, the new beacon of freedom and the shining city on the hill! 

j45ashton
j45ashton

Misguided comments below.  Putin has problems with radical islamists in Chechnya.  If the US strikes Syria and because of it the balance of power shifts in favor of the rebels winning, there is a danger of chemical weapons falling into the hands of extremists who will give them to the Chechnians.  So because of the rebel movement, because of extremists getting involved in the rebel movement, because Obama ready to strike Assad, and because of problems with Chechnya, that's why Putin want to make a deal in spite of all the weapons assistance he's given Assad in the past.  With any of the above aspects missing, there would be no deal..

RamondeJsPolank
RamondeJsPolank

SANTIAGO,DR—UNPARDONABLE act-of-State it is proved as such an act could be proved for President Bashar Al-Assad is responsible as commander in chief. From the foregoing it will be seen like  an act of cowardice condemned by the entire world. Syria still remains guilty for stockpiling chemical weapons understood  international law prohibits  the use of such weapons. We hope Secretary of State John Kerry meeting with his Russian counterpart [Lavrov] at Geneva will reach a compromise. Responsibility on Mr.Assad now that options are on the table and the international community could access the sites without having to regret snipers or attack by intruders—still a bloody civil war going on up there.

Onepatriot
Onepatriot

This plan has only come about because Putin saw an opportunity to make himself look better.   So he wants to be viewed as a peacemaker?  Ha!  He's been aiding and abetting Assad for years and allowed him to accumulate 100 tons of chemical weapons and we're supposed to pretend Russia didn't know about that?  He didn't do anything to stop him from using them on innocent children until we finally decided to act.   Now that he can get some good PR out of it, he comes up with a plan.  Even the Russian people would like to be rid of him if they could only have a fair election.

I'd never be able to work at the State Dept.  I wouldn't give him the time of day, but I praise John Kerry for trying to deal with them.  I'm not optimistic about the outcome, though.

paulejb
paulejb

Will UN inspectors be able to find Syria by November? They have had little success in finding anything for decades.

falcon269
falcon269

Who has an interest in sabotaging a peaceful resolution to chemical weapons in Syria? Anyone? Any country? Think now.

Openminded1
Openminded1

Syria and Russia have and will pull the wool over the U.S. Obama is so weak.

IanBortner
IanBortner

@jmac If Obama had not been slapped around by Putin the bombs would have been falling in Syria in 2011 and we'd be at war with Iran by now.  Both parties are blood-thirsty savages.  

ZanyRoberts
ZanyRoberts

You must be high. It's the only explanation for such muddled logic. That you could come to that conclusion given the facts is depressing for our country and our world. Oh the (stupid) humanity!

jmac
jmac

Are you paid by Ketchem?   Just curious.    

Putin deserves praise.  Kudos to him AND to Obama.    Let's give credit where credit's due.   

Openminded1
Openminded1

@j45ashton You should send in you resume to the state dept address it to kerry and give him your thoughts, he is liable to send you back a note, you never know. of course it would be a note you would not want to show kids.

IanBortner
IanBortner

@j45ashton It goes much deeper than that.  Without Assad, Putin would have no foothold in the Western Middle East and no foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean.  The Axis of Resistance would vanish and the Middle East would be laid bare to Western domination.  Russia would lose everything it has in the Middle East with the exception of Iran, who would be under siege and slowly choking.  With this deal the balance of power is preserved, Western and Jihadist dominance avoided, and Shiite autonomy protected.  American Imperialist ambitions have been shattered.  

jmac
jmac

@Onepatriot  Bush junior looked into his eyes and saw his soul.   I, myself, only see his bare chest when his name is mentioned.  

DanBruce
DanBruce

@Openminded1 Syria and Russia are coming to Obama's table, not the other way around. Call it weakness if you want, but Obama knows how to use U.S. military might to achieve a goal without firing a shot. That's the best kind of use.

manlyman
manlyman

@Openminded1 It's not Obama's weakness we need to concern ourselves with. It's his hatred for America.

jmac
jmac

@IanBortner @jmac  You have a strange mind.  It's  Beck-like.   It reminds me of Rand Paul.  You make absolutely no sense.  

IanBortner
IanBortner

@ZanyRoberts Haha I love how you neocon warmongers can't even make sense of what has just happened.  America can finally return to being a nation of peace, if we can kick the bums out of DC. 

IanBortner
IanBortner

@jmac Obama would already be knee-deep in the blood of Syrian woman and children if Russia had not taken their stand 2 years ago and kept it up till this day.  Obama deserves nothing for this, he was forced into it and you can practically see the pain on the face of Kerry and the other warmongers for failing to sink their teeth into the lawful Syrian government.  Now victory for the SAA against al-qaeda is guaranteed!  A great day for anyone who isn't a neocon or Jihadist scumbag.  

Openminded1
Openminded1

@DanBruce @Openminded1 you over estimate obama, Putin has something up his sleeve along with assad  and they worked it out it had nothing to do with Obama, more likely Kerry.

IanBortner
IanBortner

@DanBruce @Openminded1 The deal basically ensures Russian presence, even dominance, in the Eastern Mediterranean and the continuance of Assad's rule. Obama's terrorist rebels will soon be crushed by the combined might of the SAA and NDF, behind the support of Russian technology and under the direction of their spyplanes and satellites.  How did Obama accomplish anything, other than the future destruction of chemical weapons Assad no longer needs?  Where are the cries of "Assad must go?"  Obama just got defeated and only a blind cultist would argue otherwise.  

j45ashton
j45ashton

@DanBruce @Openminded1 Really pointless to address anything to so-called openminded1.  Either a troll or god knows what.  This guy hates Obama beyond anything that resembles reason.

manlyman
manlyman

4,000 dead in iraq since april. Just sayin'.

IanBortner
IanBortner

@anon76 @IanBortner You took my words out of context.  I would have supported a temporary moratorium on Middle Eastern immigration/Visas over the alternative of  massive wars costing trillions of dollars.  What about that is irrational?  Also, Obama has not ended US military involvement in ANY middle Eastern country, he has simply transferred the ground wars to proxy forces and expanded the drone bombing campaign. 

anon76
anon76

@IanBortner

Actually, Obama did end US military involvement in Iraq, and we're on schedule for the same in Afghanistan.  Not saying that Democrats are perfect, but in terms of imperialism there's a pretty clear difference between the average Democrat and the Neocons.

But then again, I'm arguing with someone who's proposed solution to 9-11 was to ban all Middle-Eastern immigrants, so perhaps I should stop pretending like I'm addressing a rational being.

IanBortner
IanBortner

@jmac @IanBortner Haha I see your stuck in the democrat-republican way of thinking.  Let me ask you this, why won't either party end these stupid wars?  They are both imperialistic, that's why! 

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@manlyman Yes, the one not suggesting the President of the Untied States had a hand in deploying chemical weapons on innocent civilians is the one with integrity issues.

manlyman
manlyman

To support or in any way defend this p o s in the whitehouse shows a total lack of any kind of integrity. It would be easy to call you a dummy paulnto, but I know that you are not dumb. So that leaves me with little to work with other than integrity issues.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@manlyman "On the other hand, the possibility has been raised that obama himself may have had a hand in it"

You are now my new favorite commenter. There have been a lot of delusional types over the life of Swampland but that's the new champion. 

manlyman
manlyman

Still not enough proof to convince me that assad is responsible for the gassing of his own people. Yes he is a scumbag, but what would be the benifits of doing such a thing? On the other hand, the possibility has been raised that obama himself may have had a hand in it, and though enough evidence hasn' t yet been presented to prove it, I do know the man is quite capable, with a soul dark enough to indeed do such a thing. When you elect the enemy as president nothing is out of the realm of possibility.

ZanyRoberts
ZanyRoberts

Defend the despots. It's funny what lengths Obama haters will go.

IanBortner
IanBortner

@ZanyRoberts The opposition were always Jihadist, they were originally Muslim Brotherhood and Farrouqh Wahabbis before the AQ Nusra Front took over.  I am all for defensive wars waged by legitimate governments against blood thirsty terrorist mercenaries.  If the Jihadists invaded America I'd be among the first to take up arms against them.  

 The fact is that 9-11 should not have been the catalyst for wars of aggression against other countries, we simply should have tightened up our borders and forbidden Middle Easterners from entering the country. 

ZanyRoberts
ZanyRoberts

You have no problem with war, only when the USA wages it. No arguing with logic like that.

Assad was killing the opposition in Syria long before they were al quaeda, but you knew that. You've just got a few neurons misfiring. Carry on Sybil.

IanBortner
IanBortner

@ZanyRoberts  Assad is destroying the al-qaeda terrorists that have ripped his country apart in their efforts to wipe out ethnic and religious groups that aren't Wahhabist.  In the end Russian weapons and Russian power will defeat this scourge we unleashed on the Middle East when we armed the Mujahideen of Afghanistan.  What absolutely poetic justice! 

ZanyRoberts
ZanyRoberts

The nearly breaking down in tears of joy because Putin is so awesome. That is what leads me to believe you're a fool. You know Russia is supplying the arms that Assad is using to kill his fellow Syrians, right? Smh.

IanBortner
IanBortner

@ZanyRoberts What chance does the world have with democrats and republicans leading the largest military on earth?  They have run this country into the ground quite long enough.  Hopefully this is the start of a new dawn, the end of American imperialism and the beginning of a multi-polar world.  What leads you to believe I am a fool?  The fact that I don't support the expansion of imperialistic wars that both parties gleefully support?  

ZanyRoberts
ZanyRoberts

You just keep persisting in your stupidity. What chance does the world have with fools like you in it?

IanBortner
IanBortner

What a load of propaganda.  I see the "100,000" figure being peddled by the Western Media still hasn't changed since the beginning of 2012.  The so-called FSA was always a propaganda stunt to drum up support for terrorists in the Wesern world.  It's "leaders" are all bought off by the Saudis and Qataris and their foot-soldiers fight alongside the AQ terrorists.  They are a proxy force for Western imperialism and a convenient way to claim we aren't on the side of the Jihadis.  

anon76
anon76

@IanBortner

100,000 Syrians are dead over the past two years, the vast majority at the hands of the SAA.  Assad started this whole calamity by givivg orders to open fire on non-violent protesters, protesters who were seeking the reforms that Assad had promised to make over 10 years ago.  The military arm of the FSA is largely composed of former Assad regime members who switched sides in pure disgust over what Assad was doing to his own people- they are not "Jihadist scumbag"s.

For you to sit here and pretend that any and all violence in the Levant is a direct result of Western Imperialist ambitions puts you in exactly the same category as our friend Sibir Russian:  a paid flunkie and propagandist trying to get us to ignore our own lying eyes.

IanBortner
IanBortner

@jmac @IanBortner All of the crazies in the US are in the Capitol and the White House, the Pentagon, and Wall Street.  All of them just got their asses handed to them by Russia.  One day you will see that peace is the right path and the parties of war who dominate DC are taking us on the path to destruction. 

jmac
jmac

@IanBortner @jmac Vote Putin!   I hope you live there, we have enough crazies in the US.  

IanBortner
IanBortner

@jmac You misunderstand me.  I'm happy for this development!  It puts a stop to Western Imperialist designs in the Middle East.  The neocon war agenda is defeated!  I will never, ever vote for a Republican or Democrat.  The first stabs you in the chest, the second stabs you in the back. 

jmac
jmac

Vote Republican.   Then we can bomb, bomb, bomb Iran and Syria, and then  go after North Korea and maybe add China and Russia to the mix.  Wars forever.  

If you don't think the international community and Obama and Putin should stand up to chemical weapon's use, move to another country.     


Openminded1
Openminded1

@DanBruce @j45ashton @Openminded1 danny thought you had more sense the j45 canary ass that he is. but i am happy to entertain. i have always been know to be the live of the party. the difference between me and your boy ashton and you is i am not a party line guy neither democrat or a GOp man. I vote for whom I think is the best person after researching not because of any affiliation .i do not vote for a black man just because i am black,that would be ignorant and there lies the problem with most blacks and liberals. Glad I could make your sat more entertaining.

DanBruce
DanBruce

@j45ashton @DanBruce @Openminded1 I know, but it's Saturday, I've done all the yard work, it's too early to watch a movie on cable (if I can find one that isn't aimed at 11-year-olds) and watching the Obama haters get all tangled up in themselves trying not to use the same old tired talking points too many times in one thread is about as entertaining as the other alternative, sports. So, there it is.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@j45ashton @DanBruce @Openminded1 Once again you open your alligator mouth and let it over run you canary ass. I do not hate Obama moron I do not like him or trust any muslim and that is coming from a black man moron.