A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Footnote to Today's Talk of a Possible Syrian Deal

As President Obama's efforts to persuade Congress to authorize a Syrian strike face increasing resistance, there has been a flurry of interest today in a possible deal involving Russia persuading Syria to give up its chemical weapons and transfer them to international control in exchange for avoiding an American strike. Secretary Kerry seems to have floated the idea, perhaps inadvertently, but Presidents Putin and Asad have pursued the idea.

Whether this proves to be a solution to an increasingly uncertain deadlock or a false start, a trial balloon that is quickly shot down, one thing that I haven't seen noted by most of the talking heads is that retired Israeli Gen. Amos Yadlin, former head of Military Intelligence, suggested a deal along these precise lines more than a week ago.

As The Times of Israel reported on August 31:
Were Putin to offer to take Assad’s chemical weapons out of Syria, said Yadlin in an Israeli Channel 2 news interview, “that would be an offer that could stop the attack.” It would be a “genuine achievement” for President Barack Obama to have ensured the clearing out of Assad’s capacity, and that would justify holding fire, said Yadlin. For Putin, such a deal would also keep the US from acting militarily in a state with which Russia is closely allied.
I have no idea if Yadlin's remarks had any influence on the apparent trial balloon today, but if this actually brings results, perhaps Yadlin's remarks should be noted.

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