The Blog

The Lavrov-Kerry Deal is a Green Light for More Massacres

The Security Council Resolution number 2118 is a victory for Russia, a defeat for the USA and a green light for Bashar Al Assad to kill more Syrians with conventional weapons.

The Security Council Resolution number 2118 is a victory for Russia, a defeat for the USA and a green light for Bashar Al Assad to kill more Syrians with conventional weapons.

On the 27th September the Security Council passed resolution number 2118 which is aimed at forcing the Syrian regime to comply with the international will to give up its chemical weapons, which have been used at least once in Syria's civil war with appalling loss of life among civilians. Thanks to Russia and China the resolution is a watered-down weak compromise that will not scare Bashar al Assad. The resolution does not automatically threaten the use of force if Syria fails to comply. If the use of force becomes necessary, a second UN Security Council Resolution must be issued which requires the approval of Russia and China. Most observers believe that Russia will again use the veto to protect its client in Damascus. I am not impressed by the speech of John Kerry the American Secretary of State to the Security Council when he described the resolution as an important precedent in establishing that chemical weapons are "a threat to international peace and security anywhere they might be used." The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said he was now hoping to convene a peace conference in Geneva by mid-November.

Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, pointed out that enforcement measures were not automatic; any punitive action would require a second resolution. Mr. Lavrov failed to add that Russia would block such a resolution. At Russia's behest, the Security Council resolution also failed to blame the Assad regime for the killing of up to 1,400 civilians with poison gas in a suburb of Damascus on Aug 21.

Licence to Kill Until Mid-2014

The Resolution calls for the elimination of the chemical stockpile by mid-2014. Can we conclude from this deadline that Bashar al Assad has the green light to kill many more thousands of Syrians until Mid-2014 by the use of the conventional weapons which so far killed more than 120 thousand Syrians? The regime is more confident and feel very safe in the knowledge that Russia, China, Iran and Hezbollah are strong and real friends.

Whilst the US and the EU are quibbling over whether to supply lethal weapons to the Free Syrian Army, the main secular opposition group, the regime is getting all the hardware and money it needs to defeat the opposition. The UN Security Council Resolution has provided the international protection the brutal regime in Damascus needs. The UN Security Council Vote saved President Obama from a potential defeat in Congress, but it did not save him from a real diplomatic defeat from the Russian President Mr. Putin. Putin has clearly eclipsed Mr. Obama as the world leader driving the agenda in the Syria crisis. Putin succeeded in asserting Russia's authority and interest in the region.

President Obama has been the victim of his own rhetoric. Since August 2012 Obama's Red Line has been crossed several times by the Assad regime. In August last year US President Barack Obama had made it clear that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime would represent "a red line" - though he subsequently backed away from this as a firm commitment to take military action. On April 26th Obama said that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime is a "game-changer". The USA has even failed to deliver the promised weapons to the opposition. This cautious approach has encouraged Assad to escalate and kill thousands of Syrians in the full knowledge that he is getting full backing from Russia and China.

The point is we don't hear much discussion let alone condemnation when thousands are killed by conventional weapons. Bashar al Assad can carry on killing his own people aided by Iran, Hezbollah and Russia and no one will stop him as long as he doesn't use chemicals and gases and there shall be no consequences.

A New York Times editorial Friday 23rd August reminded us that President Obama's credibility is on the line. Since August 2012 the President spoke of red lines.

Allegations of a Syrian Chemical Weapons Chief:

Apart from Iran and Russia, few think that the Syrian regime's promise to destroy its chemical weapons would be the end of the story. Brigadier-General Zaher al-Sakat, a former chemical weapons chief in President Bashar al-Assad's own army, certainly did not.

Gen Sakat told the London Sunday Telegraph in September "he was ordered three times to use chemical weapons against his own people, but could not go through with it and replaced chemical canisters with ones containing harmless bleach."

He also insists that all such orders had to come from the top - President Assad himself - despite insistent denials by the regime that it has never used chemical weapons.

Now he also claims to have his own intelligence that the Syrian president is evading the terms of a Russian-brokered deal to destroy his chemical weapons by transferring some of his stocks to his allies - Hezbollah, in Lebanon, and Iran.

According to the Sunday Telegraph "As chief scientific officer in the army's fifth division, he ran chemical weapons operations in the country's southern Deraa province, where the uprising began in March 2011. He says he witnessed the first uses of violence against peaceful protesters - and the first use of "dirty tricks", placing weapons in the mosque where the protests started to suggest the protesters were armed.

Gen Sakat said the regime wanted to "annihilate" the opposition using any means, and said he received his first orders to use chemical weapons in October last year. On three occasions, he said he was told to use a mixture of phosgene and two other chlorine-based agents against civilian targets in Sheikh Masqeen, Herak, and Busra, all rebel-held districts".

If Obama and his advisers know of such allegations why did they allow Moscow to hijack the Syrian agenda and to side-line Washington?

Putin and Lavrov have succeeded in the eclipsing of Obama and Kerry who have taken the roles of impotent spectators.