The Syrian helicopter flight over Turkey fabricated first Assad obstacle to chemical weapons handover
Syrian Prime Minister Waal al-Khalqi knew what he was talking about when he said Monday, Sept. 16 that the Assad regime had plenty more assets up its sleeve for harming Israel and achieving strategic balance – even after surrendering its chemical weapons to international control. The Russian ships already on their way to Syria loaded with munitions for Bashar Assad’s army demonstrate the justice of his words.
Indeed the Syrian ruler would not have agreed to let go of his chemical arsenal without being certain of two major hindrances and two big rewards:
1. Syria’s chemical arsenal cannot be destroyed in its entirety – only a very small part thereof. Like most of the rhetoric surrounding the issue, the pledge the OPCW chairman Ahmet Uzumcu of Turkey gave the UN Secretary – that “the organization will move swiftly to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapon stockpile” – is more hot air than substance.
The Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons – OPCW – is a small outfit which lacks the manpower and funds for this Herculean task; America alone is competent to perform it. It goes without saying that the Obama administration is not in the business of deploying thousands of US military personnel on the ground – even if Moscow and Damascus were amenable.
Washington might conceivably agree to train international personnel in the dismantling of chemical weapons. But that too would take a year or more. Special Syrian rebel units under US-Jordanian command have been taught how to handle chemical weapons in Jordan, but Assad is hardly likely to let them set foot in the country.