The U.N. Meets Next Week. Can They Agree on Syria’s Chemical Weapons?

Matt Vasilogambros, National Journal
See more stories about...
Matt Vasilogambros, National Journal
Sept. 20, 2013, 11:02 a.m.

The U.N. Gen­er­al As­sembly con­venes next week, and Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry is not tak­ing any chances on Syr­ia.

As world lead­ers con­verge on New York on Wed­nes­day, the U.S. will press the U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil to fi­nal­ize a mech­an­ism to find and des­troy Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al-weapons stock­pile, a deal that Kerry and Rus­si­an For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lav­rov agreed to over the week­end. But while there was an agree­ment between these two na­tions, they still re­main di­vided over the fun­da­ment­al point that led to this agree­ment, and pre­vi­ously a mil­it­ary threat from the U.S.: who was re­spons­ible for a chem­ic­al-weapons at­tack that killed more than 1,000 people.

The find­ings from a U.N. re­port re­leased this week “were as cat­egor­ic­al as they were con­vin­cing” that the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment—and not op­pos­i­tion fight­ers—car­ried out the at­tack, Kerry said from the State De­part­ment on Thursday. While Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar al-As­sad said in an in­ter­view with Fox News on Thursday that he had not read the U.N. re­port and could not com­ment on it, Rus­sia has already lam­basted it, call­ing it biased and in­com­plete.

Des­pite this dis­agree­ment, any sort of fi­nal­ized plan re­gard­ing Syr­ia’s weapons is de­pend­ent on co­oper­a­tion from the Se­cur­ity Coun­cil, and more spe­cific­ally between the U.S. and Rus­sia.

But Kerry’s com­ments were not only a warn­ing to Rus­sia and the rest of the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity, they also served as a flat-out re­but­tal to As­sad’s com­ments since the at­tack. Kerry said, “This fight about Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al weapons is not a game,” and the U.N. must act.

“I would say to the com­munity of na­tions, time is short,” he said. “Let’s not spend time de­bat­ing what we already know. In­stead, we have to re­cog­nize that the world is watch­ing to see wheth­er we can avert mil­it­ary ac­tion and achieve through peace­ful means even more than what those mil­it­ary strikes prom­ised.”

And while Syr­ia and Rus­sia have blamed pre­vi­ous chem­ic­al-weapons at­tacks on the op­pos­i­tion fight­ers, whom As­sad has dubbed “ter­ror­ists,” Kerry said Thursday that “there’s not a shred of evid­ence” that the op­pos­i­tion has the cap­ab­il­it­ies to carry out such an at­tack.

 

What We're Following See More »
GOOGLE SEARCHES SPIKE
Libertarians Getting a Second Look?
3 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
VEEPSTAKES
Trump Floats Gingrich, Kasich as Running Mates
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Newt Gringrich is actively positioning himself as a possible VP nominee for Donald Trump, according to National Review. After a New York Times piece mentioned him as a possible running mate, he said, "It is an honor to be mentioned. We need a new Contract with America to outline a 100-day plan to take back Washington from the lobbyists, bureaucrats, unions, and leftists. After helping in 1980 with Reagan and 1995 as speaker I know we have to move boldly and decisively before the election results wear off and the establishment starts fighting us. That is my focus." Meanwhile, Trump told CNN he'd be "interested in vetting" John Kasich as well.

NO MORE CUTS
House Dems Push on Puerto Rico, Citing Zika
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

"House Democrats are stepping up pressure on Republicans to advance legislation addressing Puerto Rico’s worsening debt crisis by issuing a report arguing that austerity cuts can’t be sustained and have made the island more vulnerable to the mosquito-borne Zika virus." Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee released a report yesterday that argued "further sharp reductions in government spending can’t be a part of a legislative solution"—especially with a rainy season boosting the mosquito population and stressing an island health system already struggling to deal with the Zika virus.

Source:
USING LOCAL CELLS
Clapper: ISIS Can Stage Attacks in U.S.
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"ISIS has the capability to stage a Paris-style attack in the U.S. using local cells to strike in multiple locations and inflict dozens of casualties, according to the Obama administration's top U.S. intelligence official." Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN's Peter Bergen that such a scenario is "something we worry about a lot in the United States, that they could conjure up a raid like they did in Paris or Brussels."

Source:
WILL ANNOUNCE PICK BEFORE CONVENTION
Trump to Name VP Search Committee
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Donald J. Trump said on Wednesday that he expected to reveal his vice presidential pick sometime in July—before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland—but added that he would soon announce a committee to handle the selection process, which would include Dr. Ben Carson." He said he's inclined to name a traditional political figure, unlike himself.

Source:
×