The United Kingdom on Monday said it would join France and the United States in pushing the U.N. Security Council to “enshrine” a U.S.-Russian plan reached late last week to deprive Syrian President Bashar Assad of his chemical-warfare stockpiles, the Washington Post reported.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters that the global community is ready to hold the Syrian regime accountable if it fails to fully meet the terms of the disarmament blueprint unveiled on Saturday. Secretary of State John Kerry made final changes to the U.S.-drafted proposal later endorsed by Moscow, an Obama insider told the Post for a separate Monday report.
One government insider said the top diplomats had “agreed to seek a strong and robust [Security Council] resolution that sets precise and binding deadlines with a calendar,” Reuters reported.
The U.S.-Russian plan “has to be enforced,” Kerry said on Monday. “If the Assad regime believes that this is not enforceable and that we are not serious, they will play games,” he added at a press conference after meeting with Hague and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
Assad’s key opponents could join peace talks planned as international discussion continues on the chemical-disarmament plan, the Associated Press quoted Fabius as saying on Monday. Resistance fighters, though, believe the arrangement gives Assad’s regime license to intensify other kinds of attacks, the New York Times reported on Sunday. Conventional force has been chiefly responsible for killing more than 100,000 people to date in Syria’s civil war.
A U.N. team on Monday said that “environmental, chemical and medical samples … provide clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used” in an Aug. 21 strike in a Damascus suburb, AP reported. The gassed area was held by opponents of Assad.
President Obama has said military action is still on the table if Damascus fails to meet its obligations under the arrangement, Reuters reported. U.S. military forces remain poised to attack Syrian government targets in response to last month’s nerve agent strike.
Any push for armed strikes would face Russian opposition, but Moscow has indicated it could support punitive U.N. actions short of force over potential missteps by Assad’s regime, the wire service said.
The U.S.-Russian arrangement requires Damascus within days to declare all its chemical-weapon stocks. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is expected before December to complete an initial on-the-ground investigation of the arsenal.
What We're Following See More »
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.