Syria Chemical-Equipment Destruction Proceeds Amid Peace-Talks Friction


Global Security Newswire Staff
See more stories about...
Global Security Newswire Staff
Oct. 22, 2013, 8:02 a.m.

In­ter­na­tion­al dis­arm­a­ment crews pressed ahead with ef­forts to des­troy chem­ic­al-war­fare ma­ter­i­als held by Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad’s gov­ern­ment early this week, as dip­lo­mats from nearly a dozen coun­tries met to dis­cuss po­ten­tial talks on end­ing Syr­ia’s civil war.

The Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons on Monday said it over­saw the de­struc­tion of “crit­ic­al equip­ment” at 14 fa­cil­it­ies in Syr­ia, eight more since an up­date from last Wed­nes­day. Staffers as of Monday had audited a total of 17 Syr­i­an sites, ac­cord­ing to an OP­CW state­ment.

As­sad ad­mit­ted his forces pos­sess chem­ic­al weapons and agreed to their de­struc­tion in Septem­ber, after a nerve-gas at­tack weeks earli­er raised the pos­sib­il­ity of U.S. mil­it­ary in­ter­ven­tion in the na­tion’s civil war.

The work of the dis­arm­a­ment per­son­nel is be­ing mon­itored closely around the world. The in­ter­na­tion­al team has faced con­stant threats of vi­ol­ence, and last week can­celed a vis­it to one chem­ic­al-arms site over se­cur­ity wor­ries. In re­sponse, the United States on Monday said it sent the dis­arm­a­ment work­ers 10 ar­mored vehicles val­ued at $1.5 mil­lion for their pro­tec­tion, ac­cord­ing to a U.S. State De­part­ment state­ment.

Mean­while, Sigrid Kaag, the chem­ic­al-dis­arm­a­ment ef­fort’s new spe­cial co­ordin­at­or, traveled to Dam­as­cus on Monday, ac­cord­ing to OP­CW. Oth­er chem­ic­al-watch­dog of­fi­cials already in the Syr­i­an cap­it­al were con­sult­ing with the rul­ing re­gime as it pre­pared an “ini­tial form­al de­clar­a­tion” of its chem­ic­al-war­fare in­vent­ory. A mul­ti­lat­er­al de­cision from last month calls for As­sad’s gov­ern­ment to sub­mit the doc­u­ment by Sunday.

In Lon­don on Tues­day, U.S. Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry and of­fi­cials from 10 oth­er coun­tries met to dis­cuss pos­sible Syr­i­an peace talks. After their meet­ing at the Lan­caster House, the United King­dom’s top dip­lo­mat pressed Syr­ia’s West­ern-backed res­ist­ance to “com­mit it­self fully” to a pro­posed meet­ing aimed at end­ing the con­flict.

The peace talks — tent­at­ively slated for in Novem­ber in Geneva — are the “best hope” for Syr­ia’s people “to im­prove their lives,” Brit­ish For­eign Sec­ret­ary Wil­li­am Hag­ue told the BBC.

Ahmad Jar­ba, head of the anti-As­sad Syr­i­an Na­tion­al Co­ali­tion, ap­peared set at Tues­day’s meet­ing to rule out par­ti­cip­at­ing in any peace meet­ing that does not seek As­sad’s elim­in­a­tion from of­fice, Re­u­ters re­por­ted. A fi­nal de­cision is not ex­pec­ted un­til early next month, the BBC re­por­ted.

Speak­ing on Monday, As­sad said “the factors are not yet in place if we want [the ini­ti­at­ive called Geneva 2] to suc­ceed,” Agence France-Presse re­por­ted.

“Per­son­ally, I don’t see any reas­on why I shouldn’t run in the next elec­tion,” he ad­ded in an in­ter­view with al-Mayadeen tele­vi­sion.

What We're Following See More »
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
2 days ago

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
2 days ago

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
2 days ago

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Sanders: Obama Is a Progressive
1 days ago

“Do I think President Obama is a progressive? Yeah, I do,” said Bernie Sanders, in response to a direct question in tonight’s debate. “I think they’ve done a great job.” But Hillary Clinton wasn’t content to sit out the latest chapter in the great debate over the definition of progressivism. “In your definition, with you being the gatekeeper of progressivism, I don’t think anyone else fits that definition,” she told Sanders.