A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

On Taking "Yes" for an Answer

President Obama will be speaking tonight and the diplomatic picture is still evolving, but if Syria has (as Russia is reporting) agreed to turn over it chemical weapons and sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, that's a major breakthrough. True, verification may be an issue (chemical weapons are easy to conceal) and the whole thing may be merely a stalling action, but I think it's important that the US not be seen as refusing to take yes for an answer; in fact, the Russians right now are looking like the peacemakers, improbable as that may seem.

But it's also worth noting that there are still plenty of voices wanting to strike Syria anyway, even if Syria agrees to give up its weapons under agreed international inspection. Some are sincerely eager to punish Asad for the use of chemical weapons; others, especially in Israel and Saudi Arabia, see the real enemy as Iran, and Damascus as merely a pit stop on the way to Tehran. But the world is not  convinced by the US case on this one. The deal on the table, if it can be achieved and verified, is most likely the best resolution at this time. But let's see what happens next and what the President says.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

This could be the best possible outcome for almost everyone involved. And, yes, I include Israelis, Gulf Arabs and Iranians. Exception would be those Syrian rebel leaders who were counting on a military strike to up their chances, already slight, of a swift military victory over the Syrian regime. It will increase somewhat the chances for a negotiated transition of power involving elements of the regime and the more responsible Syrian rebel leaders. Let's see if U.S. and Russians can build on the breathing space a deal on the CW would give them.