Don't Hold Your Breath for Syrian Chemical Weapons to Be Destroyed

(Ha'aretz) Ely Karmon - Since the outbreak of the civil war, Assad's chemical weapons have become the Alawite community's best insurance policy against the threat to their physical existence and to the survival of the regime. Therefore, I am skeptical that a Syria ruled by Assad and ever-conscious of the Alawite community's fragile future is ready to renounce its entire chemical arsenal. The timetable of the plan seems completely unrealistic, calling for the destruction of chemical weapons by the first half of 2014. Even with a cease-fire to allow international inspectors to do their work, the process would take (in my evaluation) three to five years. A secret military storage base of mustard gas in Jufra, Libya, was discovered after the fall of Gaddafi at the end of 2011. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), whose inspectors visited the country, gave Libya a deadline of April 2012 for the destruction of the chemicals. Today, in spite of ample technical and financial support from the U.S., Germany and Canada, the mustard gas is still there. The successful eradication of Syria's chemical arsenal thus still seems like a distant reality. The international diplomacy surrounding the process means that Damascus has gained ample space and time to maneuver and sabotage its planned destruction. The writer is the Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya.

2013-09-18 00:00:00

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