THE BLOG

Obama's Foreign Policy Odyssey

16/09/2013 09:25 BST | Updated 15/11/2013 10:12 GMT

Over the weekend secretary of state John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov reached a deal and a framework to dispose of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal by 2014.

Syria is expected to submit a comprehensive listing including names, types, and quantities of its chemical weapons agents; types of munitions, and location and form of storage, production as well as research and development facilities all within a week!

During Secretary Kerry's busy weekend he also visited Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to assure him that this chemical weapons agreement would work.

Secretary Kerry is headed back to Paris to work with the foreign ministers of France, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to work out a draft resolution to implement this agreement.

Meanwhile the UN Syrian chemical weapons report is expected to be released on Monday.

As we have known for some time, the mission of the UN inspectors was to determine if chemical weapons were used as opposed to the party responsible for their use.

Last Friday, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon signalled that it will be an "overwhelming report".

Those who have tried to keep up with this Obama foreign policy odyssey are still likely to be suffering from whiplash as they try to follow the ever changing moves of these diplomatic dancing partners - Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin.

The jury is still out on what has occurred here and who is the real winner.

Some think that President Obama's potential threat of the use of force was concerning enough to Russia to force President Putin to get involved and to take ownership in resolving the situation.

Others view this chain of events as a clever game of chess where President Putin clearly had the upper hand by throwing the Obama administration a life line when there was no good way out.

The question remains as to whether this solution which achieved Obama's short term goals related to Assad's chemical weapons comes at the expense of longer term US goals in the region.

President Obama has found a solution relating to the Syrian use of chemical weapons without forcing a Congressional vote against the overwhelming opposition of the American people and without firing a shot. This needless to say this has pleased many members of his Democratic base.

The president was also effective in pulling Russia into the situation and with their help getting Syria to admit they have chemical weapons and to join the chemical weapons treaty.

From this solution, it is still not clear what price the US will pay on the international or domestic fronts.

However, it does seems clear that the way this was handled may possibly have muddied or even damaged a president's power to engage military force without the approval of Congress from this point forward.

It also seems that with respect to the limited goal of ensuring that there will be no more chemical attacks, President Obama may have accomplished his goal.

But the jury is still out on this one until we see the implementation plan and whether Assad complies.

There is still the looming concern regarding how this agreement can be implemented in the middle of a civil war and what sort of international protective force will be needed to protect the UN inspectors.

Since the UN does not have its own standing troops, UN members may need to contribute forces to ensure the security of the inspection teams.

What is still completely unclear is how this deal dovetails with overall US policy in the Middle East.

Clearly President Putin has re-established the Russian Federation as an essential player on the world stage.

By putting this solution forward he won on certain key strategic points from a Russian perspective.

Assad remains in place and in fact becomes a key player in implementing the plan to destroy Syria's chemical weapons.

This pact has the consequence of keeping the Syrian regime in power and maintaining the last Russian "Soviet Era" sphere of influence in this critical region.

The Russian's also get some comfort from the fact that the international community is going to take control of these stores of chemical weapons to destroy them and prevent them from falling into the hands of radicals.

This serves their own purposes since it limits the likelihood that these dangerous weapons could end up in the hands of extremists in Russia.

All of this could reshape the outcome of the ongoing civil war in Syria and could have a lasting effect on the region.

Jon-Christopher Bua's blogposts for Sky News appear here