Sorry, but I am not convinced.
Assad is unlikely to give up his entire chemical weapon arsenal. Instead, what we are likely to see is a long, drawn out cat and mouse game between him and the West.
Why? in my opinion because:
1- As long as there is not a Chapter 7 UN Security Council Resolution which leaves a military response hanging over his head if he does not deliver, Assad is not going to take this agreement seriously.
2- He is unlikely to give up all of his chemical weapons because recent events have shown him that they are a useful bartering tool. He will always need to keep some hidden for the next crisis, so that he can barter it for something else. This time he bartered his chemical weapons arsenal in return for not being attacked, he could do it again next time for something else.
I appreciate that the US has its own considerations, but I think if president Obama is looking for a sustainable solution, he should make sure that this agreement is backed by a chapter 7 resolution. And if the Russians don’t play ball on this now, they are not going to play ball later when Assad has to deliver.
Better to test Putin now, rather than later.
Today I read an interesting analysis by Shimon Shapira, which was published at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
According to the findings of its report, entitled “Iran’s Plans to Take Over Syria“:
In mid-April, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah paid a secret visit to Tehran where he met with the top Iranian officials headed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Gen. Qasem Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Suleimani prepared an operational plan named after him based upon the establishment of a 150,000-man force for Syria, the majority of whom will come from Iran, Iraq, and a smaller number from Hizbullah and the Gulf states.
I think this is not all bad news for Israel.
Just imagine the scenario: a Chemical weapon goes missing in Syria. Between Al Qaeda and Hezbollah forces in Syria, who would Israel prefer to take the weapon? Although not a good choice (in this region we usually don’t have the luxury of having good choices), Hezbollah is far more balanced and deter-able than Al Qaeda.
Now of course there are those in Israel who don’t like Hezbollah and Iran – with good reason.
Nevertheless, in the short term, what is going on in Syria is good for Israel. How can it not be? Al Qaeda and Hezbollah are killing each other.
But in the medium to long term, instability in Syria will be bad for Israel. Which is why Israel needs to reach a deal with the PLO in order to prepare itself diplomatically for what is to come in Syria.
Israel must learn that its not enough to be prepared militarily for a future conflict. It also needs to be diplomatically prepared too.