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Syrian Gov't Agrees To Russian Chem-Weapon Turnover Plan 362

Posted by timothy
from the put-some-dampers-on-those-sabers dept.
CNN reports that at least for now we may be able to set aside the question of whether and under what authority the U.S. should intervene militarily in Syria, a question that's dominated the news for the last few weeks. From the report: "Facing the threat of a U.S. military strike, the country's leaders Tuesday reportedly accepted a Russian proposal to turn over its chemical weapons. ... The development, reported by Syrian state television and Russia's Interfax news agency, came a day after the idea bubbled up in the wake of what appeared to be a gaffe by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. It quickly changed the debate in Washington from 'Should the U.S. attack?' to 'Is there a diplomatic way out of this mess?' Syrian Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Tuesday his country had agreed to the Russian proposal after what Interfax quoted him as calling 'a very fruitful round of talks' with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday. Details of such a transfer have yet to be worked out, such as where the arms would go, who would safeguard them and how the world could be sure Syria had handed over its entire stockpile of chemical weapons."
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Syrian Gov't Agrees To Russian Chem-Weapon Turnover Plan

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  • I wonder what Assad will get in return. I suppose more tanks is better than continued nerve gas attacks.
    • Re:Sounds promising (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @10:56AM (#44808055)

      I wonder if this was his plan all along - a way to keep the West out of his civil war. Do something completely outrageous, seemingly capitulate to a demand that you didn't really want to violate anyway, and then be left off in a better position than you were before you used the chemical weapons. As a bonus, you no longer have to worry about guarding these things against the rebels.

      • Re:Sounds promising (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Talderas (1212466) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @11:05AM (#44808149)

        On the other hand, the rebels could have pilfered chemical weapons when they took over a Syrian base in Sep 2012 then used the weapons in an attempt to provoke a western response in order to give them an advantage.

        • by dbIII (701233) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @11:30AM (#44808457)
          Or some ruthless bastard that has the weapons could have just used them to win at all costs - no need to look for something complex when there's plenty of simple reasons.
          • by Mashiki (184564)

            Hey remember the Bosnian civil war? You know the bosian muslims there shelled their own with chemical weapons as a pretext to get the west involved. He's not stupid, though he can be ruthless just like his father was. But there's no point in using chemical weapons to win, when you can use conventional weapons.

        • by Culture20 (968837)
          Or the rebels could have been trying to gas the Syrian military with the stolen chemicals but ended up gassing themselves. Never ascribe to mere malice what you can ascribe to malice and stupidity.
          • by wmac1 (2478314)

            I did not see rebels die. There were all kids and women and civilian.

          • Re:Sounds promising (Score:5, Interesting)

            by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @12:59PM (#44809491) Homepage Journal
            Either way.

            Obama lucked into an "out" for the predicament he put himself in by drawing the 'red lines' without first thinking through the implications if he was ever called on it.

            He is one lucky SOB, that's for sure....an on camera/mike gaffe essentially by Kerry yesterday, turned into a way out for the administration.

            If they will do this and confirm it, then it is likely the best thing that would happen, get the chemical weapons out, destroy them and keep them out of the hands of Asad (if he wins) or out of the terrorist groups if they win out.

            But man, Big O got lucky again on this one, and look, the media coverage on this has dropped the:

            1. IRS scandals

            2. NSA privacy breach scandals

            3. The hunt and loss of Snowden

            4. The upcoming problems and costs assoc. with Obamacare implementation.

            On that last one, he gets another gift, this time from the CBO...saying he can save about $35B or so over the next 10 years, if he also puts off the individual mandate for a year.....and doing that will possibly save Dem. seats up for grabs in 2014.

            He is sure a lucky one....

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          Yup! And you can't even apply Occam's Razor here, because either side could be motivated. It could also be a mistaken release. We mere proles simply don't have enough information... this is all speculation.

          I will say, though, that there are some indications that rockets were used to deliver the chemicals, and the rebels do not seem to have much heavy weaponry.

      • Re:Sounds promising (Score:4, Interesting)

        by erikkemperman (252014) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @11:09AM (#44808213)

        I'm curious, why do you take this as a confession, on the part of Assad's regime, that they were responsible for the August attacks?

        As far as I know, they have vehemently denied it. Which doesn't mean much, but then again the rebels seem a pretty nasty bunch as well.

        Basically the only ones who claim to know for sure is the US govt -- and now they seem to be less sure of that as before (or maybe they honestly still expected anyone to take their word for it, before being disappointment to find themselves alone in the bomb-first-ask-questions-later camp).

        • by TheCarp (96830)

          > As far as I know, they have vehemently denied it. Which doesn't mean much, but then again
          > the rebels seem a pretty nasty bunch as well

          There is now even another report: http://rt.com/news/chemical-weapons-rebels-captives-632/?utm_source=browser&utm_medium=aplication_chrome&utm_campaign=chrome [rt.com]

          Recently released hostages (reportedly) of the rebels claim to have overheard skype conversations where rebels talk about the attacks as a false flag provocation tactic.

          Is it true? Dunno, did they really

          • If it was skype, the NSA would know. Right? Maybe they're too busy monitoring my /. posts.

            James Clapper: professional pervert.

          • What I don't get is that when rebels had momentum, they did not use chemical weapons. Now that the rebels are losing ground and the Asad military machine is winning and gaining grounds, they go ahead and use chemical agents.

            Personally, it doesn't add up. IMO, the most to gain with this show was actually the rebels. Nonetheless, politics played by Putin and Asad turned this into an advantage, once they hand over the weapons, the regime can crush the rebellion in the most brutal way followed by negotiating a

        • Re:Sounds promising (Score:5, Informative)

          by Antipater (2053064) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @11:20AM (#44808329)
          Human Rights Watch just posted the results [hrw.org] of their own analysis. They say it was Assad and not the rebels, mainly because the rebels are not known to have 140mm or 330mm rockets or their associated equipment.
          • by Yomers (863527)
            It all depends on who you believe, we get all information (pro and anti strike) from biased sources, I did not expect anything else from HWR - article is written in classical style, to get emotional response. Check out this link http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/15496841-hostages-piccinin-quirico-heard-syrian-rebels-say-assad-not-responsible-for-chemical-attack [allvoices.com].

            It's propaganda war, only thing that we can be sure is that we do not know what really happens there. I think it's more probable that reb
          • by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @02:42PM (#44810717) Homepage Journal

            The problem is that no matter what chemical weapons were used, the rebels could have gotten not only the weapons, but the launchers from whoever provided them. There are many countries in the world with chemical weapons and launchers for them. Any one of them could, theoretically, have provided the rebels with such arms in order to launch a false-flag attack in hopes the Syrian government would be attacked by the US and others in response.

            There are several theories as to who might have done so that I've read, all of which are as reasonable (at least) as the idea of Assad suicidally using chemical weapons despite the threat of US intervention made long before they were used.

            I don't think anyone knows who used them, except those who used them. And they're not telling.

            I place absolutely zero faith in US "intelligence reports" after their WMD debacle for Iraq.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by interkin3tic (1469267)
          The first casualty in war is truth. We may never know for CERTAIN that Assad did it. However, it seems unlikely that this was rebels targeting themselves with chemical weapons. For one thing, the rebels are only known by independent groups to have had miniscule amounts of chemical weapons, they never were known to be armed with the attacks that occurred. For another, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to have killed thousands of their own just to try to paint it on Assad.

          Honestly I forget the deta
        • by MightyYar (622222)

          I'm curious, why do you take this as a confession, on the part of Assad's regime, that they were responsible for the August attacks?

          I think you mistake my speculation for some firm belief. On one side, we have a brutal dictatorship with a history of disregard for human life. On the other, we have leaked and shared intelligence from sources with a very spotty track record. I honestly have no idea what is going on, and you don't either. I'm just having some fun speculating, but I don't think my speculation is too far-fetched.

      • by boorack (1345877) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @12:07PM (#44808911)

        I don't think Assad actually did such suicidal step. He might be quite brutal dictator but he and his regime certainly have self preservation instinct. Otherwise he would be overthrown long time ago. My suspicion is that this horrible act was actually done by rebels^H^H^H^H^Hal-Quaeda as act of desperation. Assad regime that has strong motive to avoid such thing at all costs. It was clearly winning this war since taking over Qusair in June this year. Assad army was basically mopping up remaining rebel groups. Carla de Ponte, UN chief inspector digging through Syria CW issues said all things indicate rebels are behind August attack in Damascus, pretty much the same as in Aleppo case, April this year. But (surprise! surprise!) - since she said that, approx. two weeks ago, all mentions of UN Syria inspection magically disappeared from US mainstream media ! And even now, when Russians basically did 'check mate' to US administration, virtually everyone in the sane world is against intervention (except for Israel, Saudi Arabia and some EU politicians paying lip service to their US masters^H^H^H^H^Hcounterparts but passively resisting), Kerry and friends are still in warmongering binge, indicating his 'ultimatum' Syria accepted was "rhetorical". Overthrowing table after getting check-mate doesn't look good.

        My take is this: United States is desperately trying to do a regime change in Syria, regardless of human costs. They basically don't give a crap about civilian casualties and if you don't believe, ask some Libyans how are they since being "liberated" (there are still full fledged atrocities and cleansings in Libya with thousands upon thousands civilian casualties, yet your lovely corporate media "forgot" reporting about this - which is expected, by the way). CW issue was a convenient pretext, yet as it just has fallen apart, your Noble Prize War Monger In Chief will invent another pretext soon. Expect more drastic provocations. Like, for example, rebels attacking targets in Israel, shooting sarin shells from Syria territory and Israel immediately bombing the hell out of Damascus before rest of the world gets aware what's going on (so no diplomacy will be possible to derail invasion plan).

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          My suspicion is that this horrible act was actually done by rebels

          I agree that - given the tiny bit of information we are working with - that is also a reasonable possibility.

        • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @01:39PM (#44809921) Journal
          That doesn't make sense either, if Obama wanted to attack Syria, he more excuse to do so than he did in Libya, because the war has bled over into our ally country of NATO (Turkey). There is no real good way to explain the actions of the Obama administration. Overall the actions of the administration seem misdirected and incompetent.

          Which is the worst part of the entire situation. Even if you favor getting rid of Assad, do you really want an incompetent administration to go around flinging a giant weapon? It's like the Iraq war, I fully opposed the Iraq war, but even then, I'm willing to admit that if Bush 1 or Clinton had been engaging that war, it would have gone off a lot better.
      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        What's keeping the US out of Assad's civil war (officially at least) is good old uncle Vladimir up in Moscow. This agreements actually gets the US out of a jam, because they were putting themselves into a position where they would both have to attack because otherwise their threats weren't credible, and would have to not attack because it would start a much bigger fight with Russia. Of course, I'm sure there are elements in the US who want to blow something up and would be disappointed in a diplomatic solut

    • by gtall (79522)

      Russia may give him more tanks, but they'd just give them to him anyway if that is in the cards. Assad's problem is that he cannot pay for them, and Russia wants paying now for just about everything. Putin probably realizes the biggest problem with Assad's chem. weap. is that they may not remain Assad's. Last we checked, Russia had its own share of Islamic terrorists to contend with and they'd have no problem using them against Russian civilians. That would make Putin look bad, well, even worse than he curr

      • by Dishevel (1105119)
        With 40 more months of Obama we all know that Taiwan is already gone. I just hope that Obama can learn fast enough and well enough that Iran and North Korea do not go ape shit. I do not think Obama has been a good president. I did not vote for him either time.

        I though do not want to see him fail here. All Americans need Obama to get better quickly and to not fail any further on foreign policy. He needs to step up and Be the leader of the free world. He choose it. Now he needs to step up and do it. He will

        • The Taiwanese also have a large stock of chemical weapons.

          The Chinese can't afford a war. They will try to get Taiwan, HongKong style.

  • What are they negotiating the turn-over of, from their perspective?

  • This is Western rules of war! Pain and suffering must only be of a certain TYPE!

    BUY LOCKHEED. BUY BOEING.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      The aversion to poisoning is not a Western tendency. Poison is the tool of the bad guy in stories from all over the globe. We seem to have an innate distaste for it.

    • The idea behind the chemical weapon aversion AFAIK is that unlike bullets-- which are great on a battlefield-- chemical weapons have a tendency to be at least as damaging to the civilian populations as they are to the military, and often moreso.

      That is why many countries agreed to stop using them; waging war isnt going to stop, but we can try to prevent them from being Pyrrhic in all situations.

      • by Aonghus142000 (908581) <durin1.mindspring@com> on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @01:18PM (#44809717) Journal

        Actually chemical weapons are much more damaging to civilians than they are to the military. A chemical weapons attack will degrade a military unit's effectiveness (although it tends to degrade both sides equally,) but beyond the odd slow or unlucky soldier, it is unlikely to cause more than a handful of casualties.

        Civilian populations, OTOH, tend to lack the protective gear and training in using it necessary to exist in a chemical environment. Not having a gas mask during a chemical attack is a bad way to be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @10:55AM (#44808041)
    First they protect a whistle-blower, then they work on getting chemical weapons out of Syria without causing hundreds of thousands of collateral casualties. Yet again Russia is working toward the moral high ground. If they just let up on homosexuals then my cold war anti-communism schooling will begin to unravel.
    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @11:52AM (#44808733)
      Keep in mind they vetoed any multilateral UN action to keep the peace in Syria. Russia's involvement is no more humanitarian than the US's involvement.

      Good post on this subject from reddit yesterday [reddit.com]. And by "good post" I mean "I have ABSOLUTELY no idea if it's right or not, but it sounds convincing????"
  • Taken to school (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @10:57AM (#44808061)

    It's hard to see how this isn't a huge win for Putin. Russia gains even more influence in Syria for stopping a US attack. Obama looks weak and indecisive.

    Of course the biggest winner is Syria, which doesn't get bombed. And odds are, they'll get their chem weapons back once the story dies down.

    • by Kartu (1490911)

      US had 2 suggestions:

      1) what Syria agreed to (initially Russians refused saying "it's Syria's right to have them"
      2) To act together and guard these weapons in case of a bigger mess later

      It's not such a big win for Putin, since giving up chemical weapons just not to get your ass beaten by US
      IS a big deal and could later be applied to other countries, e.g. Iran.

      • Look at the headlines. "Russia brokers a deal..." "Syrian Gov't Agrees to Russian Deal". Russian this, Russian that. It doesn't matter if Narnia was actually behind the deal, it only matters who gets all the headlines when it comes to who gets to claim the win.

        • Realpolitik doesn't play out in headlines. Headlines are for the idiots who take things at face value.

          This means the Syrian civil war will continue.

          I think we and Russia are on the same side. We both want the Sunnis and Sheia to continue their 1300 year old war.

          We just need to trick Iran into invading Iraq and we're golden.

    • by gtall (79522)

      Wow, influence in Syria, that's just worth its weight in gold isn't it. Supporting an Alawite government despised by 80% of its pop. which are Sunni is going make it big friends in the mid-east. Maybe they are doing it because Iran and their lapdogs Hezbollah are so dear to their hearts.

  • I wouldn't say that they have agreed to a plan. A plan is something with details and some notion of how, in this case, they are going to effectively assert and trust that all weapons and precursors have been handed over (when most of it all is mobile, so that they can be moved around and hidden more easily). It would have details about how you either secure everything in place...in the middle of a war zone...or how you safely move them (again, through a war zone) to be destroyed elsewhere. It bears point

  • by booch (4157) <slashdot2010.craigbuchek@com> on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @11:06AM (#44808167) Homepage

    Have them agree to be bombed if they are found to have any remaining chemical weapons after the turn-over.

  • by localman57 (1340533) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @11:07AM (#44808187)
    I think it's important to remember how Assad played Kofi Annan for a chump for weeks near the beginning of this conflict. The whole time, he kept everybody talking, dangling the bait of a peaceful solution- some compromise - while he was using tanks on protesters that were overwhelmingly peaceful, and at worst lightly armed and totally disorganized.

    He may well be doing the same thing now. He has masterfully played the hand he was dealt with delays, and a gradual escalation of tactics and brutality, essentially boiling the frog of public opinion to avoid any one escalation that yields a response. Dictators for decades will study this. I watched the interview last night with Charlie Rose, and I'm pretty convinced that Putin is probably the only major world leader who'd have a chance against this guy in a poker game.
  • LOL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @11:12AM (#44808245) Homepage

    I want to high five the reporter that asked that question. Holy shit. A single question be a single reporter possibly changing the course of an entire war. Not every day you see that.

    • Re:LOL (Score:4, Informative)

      by Antipater (2053064) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @11:39AM (#44808573)
      The NBC article [nbcnews.com] on this includes this line, though:

      In a further development, a spokesman for Vladimir Putin said the Russian president had discussed the weapons handover plan with Obama at last week’s G-20 summit.

      So according to Russia, at least, this didn't come out of nowhere. It's been planned for a little bit. The reporter may have even been a planted question, a trial balloon for the official announcement.

  • no brainer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spirit_fingers (777604) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @11:14AM (#44808263)

    When considering a response to the use of poison gas in Syria, the U.S. has several choices available to it.

    1. Do nothing. This is the least desirable option for most Americans, whether or not they believe we should bomb. A majority prefer some kind of response.

    2. Assuming that gas was used on Assad's orders, punish him by dropping bombs on something important to him, but being careful not to hurt him so badly that his regime fails and Al Qaeda-backed forces assume power.

    3. Resolve the situation diplomatically. Use third parties to pressure Assad to turn over his chemical weapons arsenal to international control.

    A strong case can be made that options 1 and 2 are the least likely to achieve a desirable outcome. That leaves option 3, which as of last Monday has a real chance of happening. The most reasonable course of action appears to be laid out before us. The time is now for Obama to think out of the box, have the courage to reconsider his strategy and show the world that he really did deserve his Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Sounds like the Whizzo Chocolate Company is expanding into pastries?

  • by Hartree (191324) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @11:36AM (#44808535)

    Securing chemical weapons sites in a civil war zone where people shoot at UN inspectors.

    Now, there's some interesting logistics.

    Add to that the possibility that some has already been stolen and at least one of the sites is under regular rebel attack.

    So, we have a "red line" comment that had unintended consequences. That's now followed by an offhand comment by the Secretary of State that had unintended consequences, and the two just might cancel the worst of each other's damage out.

    Ike Eisenhower once said: "I'll take a lucky general over a smart general."

    I think it goes double for national leaders and diplomats.

  • Of course Syria agreed to the Russian proposal. Russia and Syria are huge allies, and Russia has had bases (not sure if they still do) there in the past. In all likelihood, Putin spoke to Assad and negotiated all of this out before he announced his plan, to make sure Assad would agree to it. Think about it: this agreement hurts the image of the US by making them look militaristic and warlike, makes Russia look good, and ensures that Assad stays in power (and makes him look reasonable). Assad doesn't car

  • Are you wondering why on Earth Obama would think it's a good idea to bomb Syria, when Libya was such a disaster? I'll give you a hint: both countries are non-members of the WTO, with state-owned banking systems. So is Iran.

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/making_the_world_safe_for_banksters_syria_in_the_cross-hairs_20130905/ [truthdig.com]

    The people who financed Obama's elections -- and who are the only folks for whom he's been a good president -- are the ones who have the most to gain by regime change in Syria.
    • See the PNAC document, written before Bush Jr got into office. It outlines some of the reasons and all their plans to conquer the middle east. We've been following that plan since 2000 when Bush got into office. I practically memorized it.

      Whomever is in charge - it's not us... because both parties are following the plans. Afghanistan was #1 on the list (yes, years before 9/11,) Iraq #2 and Syria was #3. We even started to build to invade fairly early into Iraq but some deals were made... So now for som

  • I'm concerned primarily with the last point:

    ...how the world could be sure Syria had handed over its entire stockpile

    If Assad makes a big show of turning over his stockpile, but manages to hang onto some anyway, he'll have a good alibi if another attack occurs.

  • Russia most likely sold them the chemical weapons in the first place.

    Probably offered them a discount on the next batch of biological weapons or something if they go along with this time wasting (deliberately) measure.

    Win / win for Russia and a Win for Assad in that he gets the ROW off his ass for awhile and can keep beating on his civilians.

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