The feasibility of an effort to destroy the Syrian government’s full chemical arsenal in less than a year could hinge on whether international authorities succeed in negotiating short-term truces between the country’s warring factions, the head of a global chemical-arms agency said on Wednesday.
Ahmet Üzümcü, director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, told reporters the mid-2014 goal could be achievable “if some temporary ceasefires can be established” in the Syrian civil war, now in its third year.
“Much depends on the situation on the ground, that’s why we have urged all parties in Syria to be cooperative,” he added at a news conference in The Hague, Netherlands. “The elimination is in the interest of all.”
He said disarmament personnel are scheduled within weeks to travel to more than 20 locations in the Middle Eastern country, the Associated Press reported.
Malik Ellahi, OPCW head of government relations and political affairs, said Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government transferred a significant portion of its chemical-warfare stockpile away from opposition-controlled areas.
He said Damascus to date has indicated “that most of the sites and facilities that we need to inspect are in government control.”
International chemical-weapons auditors “will only go and conduct [their] mission” with assurance “that security on a given day, on a given schedule is provided,” Ellahi added.
Syrian state media on Tuesday aired a video said to show disarmament personnel operating in the country, Agence France-Presse reported.
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."