This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, September 16th, 2013:
After three days of intense negotiating (we are told), Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have agreed to force Assad to give up his chemical weapons, or else. These are the weapons, of course, that didn’t exist just a week ago, but now we know total some 1,000 tons of chemical agents and “precursors” scattered about the countryside in some 45 different locations. What isn’t clear is whether they are all under the control of Assad or whether some of them are in the hands of the rebels.
But that doesn’t matter. What really matters is the agreement. It requires Assad to give up all the details of his chemical weaponry, including “names, types and quantities … types of munitions … location and form of storage, production and research and development facilities” by Friday. That’s this Friday. Fat chance.
Why would Assad do that? It would save the US military a lot of time and effort to determine where its targets are, just in case “diplomacy” fails, which is certain.
The agreement also demands that Assad allow access by UN inspectors to the facilities no later than the middle of November, and the destruction of them all (or, alternatively, the transfer of them to some UN agency) no later than next summer.
How likely is all that to happen? John Bolton, former UN Ambassador, thinks chances are between slim and none:
[Assad] will slip a few days [beyond this Friday’s due date], or maybe a few more. Maybe [his] first declaration won’t be full and complete, and it’ll have to be amended. And then it will have to be amended again. You can see what the impact of this is as time goes on.
It’s the classic stall, and the UN will allow him to get away with it.
But eventually demands for compliance will increase and then the matter (under the terms of the agreement) will be turned over to the UN Security Council. Fred Fleitz, who spent 25 years with the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency and now serves as chief analyst for LIGNET.com – the Langley Intelligence Group Network – says none of this is going to work:
[The agreement] says that Syria will be referred to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions but the Russians have already said that they’re not going to tolerate authorization of the use of force…
The Syrian government has a history of not cooperating with international teams. With the lack of … enforcement, it’s hard to see why they’re going to cooperate.
If there’s a violation, the Syrians will deny it. The Russians will back them up. There’s a lot of trouble on the horizon…
The phoniness is obvious. As Bolton noted:
One of the fine ironies here is that we have agreed with Russia, which has been in violation itself of the Chemical Weapons Convention since the treaty came into force…
So the notion that Russia is going to vouch for Masher al-Assad is almost comical.
You can’t make this stuff up.
So where does that leave us? With a phony agreement between Russia (which can’t be trusted) and Assad (who can’t be trusted), drawn up by John Kerry (who can’t be trusted), to demand that Assad give up vital secret military information with an impossible deadline.
The net effect of all of these shenanigans? The agreement solves nothing, but delays everything indefinitely. It legitimizes Assad when just weeks ago the State Department wanted his head. It enhances Russia and Putin (the former KGB operative). It removes Obama’s threat to fire missiles at Syria in an unprovoked attack that was getting less and less popular in the US all the time. It gets the president out of the corner he had successfully painted himself into. It further reduces American influence and credibility in the Middle East and elsewhere. It emboldens Iran as it continues with its own development of nuclear weapons. And, finally, it supports and enhances the credibility of the UN Security Council.
What it doesn’t do is allow any discussion of what is proper under the Constitution. But the Constitution is a relic. After all, the last time Congress declared war was in December, 1941. All other wars have been described as “police actions” or other “peacekeeping efforts.”
No one put it any better than Syrian Minister Ali Haidar: “We welcome the agreement. It helps the Syrians emerge from the crisis and … it has allowed for averting war against Syria. It’s a victory for Syria that was achieved by our Russian friends.”
Washington Times: ANALYSIS: Deal with Russians legitimizes Assad
Washington Times: US, Russia reach deal on Syria chemical weapons