Syria says it “welcomes” Russian proposal to place chemical weapons under international control

CBS News has the article Syria says it “welcomes” Russian proposal to place chemical weapons under international control.

MOSCOW Syria’s foreign minister says his country welcomes Russia’s proposal for it to place its chemical weapons under international control and then dismantle them quickly to avert U.S. strikes.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem stopped short of saying that the Syrian government had actually accepted the proposal

“I state that the Syrian Arab Republic welcomes the Russian initiative, motivated by the Syrian leadership’s concern for the lives of our citizens and the security of our country, and also motivated by our confidence in the wisdom of the Russian leadership, which is attempting to prevent American aggression against our people,” he said.

The statement came a few hours after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Syrian President Bashar Assad could resolve the crisis surrounding the alleged use of chemical weapons by his forces by surrendering control of “every single bit” of his arsenal to the international community by the end of the week.

There are lots of positive things to say about this development.

  1. If this was Obama’s original intent in making the threats, then it was a brilliant play.
  2. If all the protesting about the Obama plan lead to Kerry’s attempt to find a diplomatic out, then it was all worth it.
  3. Perhaps Russia’s intransigents in the UN Security Council was a good thing, and that veto power is also a good thing.
  4. Insisting on all out diplomacy (not pressure) is the best way to try to resolve issues like this.
  5. This could be a first step in finding a diplomatic resolution to the war itself.  Maybe the external forces with their competing self-interests have come to realize that supporting one side of a war is a dangerous way to achieve their economic goals.

Apparently the offer came as a result of an offhand comment that John Kerry made at a press conference when a reporter asked if there were anything Assad could do to stave off a US attack. John Kerry made the extreme demand that Assad put the chemical weapons under international control by the end of the week.

So apparently, President Obama and all his spokespeople were wrong when they said that every diplomatic effort had been exhausted before they decided to attack.  (If the threats of attack were a ploy to move diplomacy forward, perhaps the administration can be forgiven.  Of course, as in poker, never show your hand if the opponent does not call your bet. If you intend to continue to play, you don’t want your opponent to develop a sense of when you bluff and when you don’t.  So we will never know if this was a ploy.  Or we should not ever know unless someone is fool enough to uncover the answer.)

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