Skip to comments.Syria accepts Russian weapons plan as France seeks UN resolution (long but comical piece)
Posted on 09/10/2013 5:47:18 AM PDT by bert
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says its proposal will demand Assad regime turn over chemical weapons stockpile
The Syrian government has accepted a Russian proposal to put its chemical weapons under international control to avoid a possible U.S. military strike, Interfax news agency quoted Syria's foreign minister as saying on Tuesday.
"We held a very fruitful round of talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday, and he proposed an initiative relating to chemical weapons. And in the evening we agreed to the Russian initiative," Interfax quoted the minister, Walid al-Moualem, as telling the speaker of Russia's lower house parliament house in Moscow.
He said Syria had agreed, because this would "remove the grounds for American aggression," the report said.
It comes as France plans to submit a resolution calling for Syria's chemical weapons stockpile to be turned over to international control to the United Nations Security Council, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said at a press conference in Paris Tuesday. Fabius said that the resolution would threaten "extremely serious" consequences if Syria violates conditions on chemical weapons.
Fabius added that all options are still on the table regarding Syria. France has previously spoken out in support of limited air strikes in Syria, backing President Barack Obama's push for an attack, which had slowed in response to a growing domestic and international outcry against the move.
On Monday, Obama told ABC News that any proposed strike against Syria would "absolutely" be put on hold if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed to turn over chemical weapons that the United States and its allies have accused him of using during an attack near Damascus last month that the U.S. says left more than 1,400 people dead.
Confronted by the threat of U.S. air strikes, Syria on Monday welcomed the idea -- put forth by its close ally Russia -- of turning over all of its chemical weapons to the control of the international community. The weapons would then be destroyed, according to Moscow's proposal.
Fabius said France's resolution would include condemnation of the attack, which could go beyond what Moscow, which wields veto-power in the Security Council, would allow to pass. Russia has expressed doubt that the Assad regime carried out the attack.
"Our objective is the elimination of chemical weapons and the protection of the Syrian people," Fabius said in the press conference. While Obama called Syria's response "a potentially positive development," he added on NBC News that it would need to be taken "with a grain of salt." "We are going to run this to ground," Obama said. "John Kerry will be talking to his Russian counterpart. We're going to make sure that we see how serious these proposals are."
With the discussion about Syria's chemical-weapons stockpile taking center stage, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., delayed a procedural vote on authorizing strikes against Syria that was scheduled for Wednesday. It's unclear when the vote will take place. Congress began debate on authorizing airstrikes in Syria Monday.
Obama, meanwhile, conceded that he may lose his campaign in Congress for authorization. "I wouldn't say I'm confident" of the outcome, he said, adding, "I haven't decided" on a next step if Congress votes "no."
An earlier statement by Syria's foreign minister Walid al-Muallem about Moscow's proposal -- in which he expressed concern for "the security of our country" -- appeared to mark the Syrian government's first official acknowledgment that it possesses chemical weapons.
Moallem's statement came just hours after Secretary of State John Kerry said that Assad could resolve the crisis by surrendering control of "every single bit" of his arsenal to the international community by the end of the week -- although Kerry himself expressed doubt that Syria would actually follow through.
An spokesperson from the Iranian Foreign Ministry expressed support for the Russian-brokered proposal. Iran is one of Syria's most stalwart allies, and has been supporting the Assad regime throughout the civil war. State Department officials had earlier said that they would give the proposal a "hard look" -- though with "serious skepticism," said spokeswoman Marie Harf, who added that Syria had consistently refused to destroy its chemical weapons in the past.
Syrian officials did not offer a time frame for taking such action or offer any other details. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, however, said he expected a quick, positive response from Damascus.
"If the establishment of international control over chemical weapons in that country would allow avoiding strikes, we will immediately start working with Damascus," Lavrov said. "We are calling on the Syrian leadership to not only agree on placing chemical weapons storage sites under international control, but also on its subsequent destruction and fully joining the treaty on prohibition of chemical weapons."
In an interview with Assad aired Monday on PBS, journalist Charlie Rose said Obama says the world draws a "red line" on chemical weapons, which Assad refuted.
Its not the world, because Obama drew that line and Obama can draw a line for himself and for his country not for other countries. We have our own red line, like for our sovereignty and our independence, Assad said.
If you want to talk red lines, the United States used depleted uranium in Iraq, Israel used white phosphorous in Gaza. And nobody said anything. We dont see red lines. Its political red lines.
White phosphorous is a chemical agent Israel reportedly admits to having used in the Gaza strip that can cause severe burns. Depleted uranium, used in American weapons in Iraq, is said to be responsible for birth defects and cancer there.
The U.S. government says there is no evidence either way of its effects on civilians, but the Department of Veterans Affairs does offer hit by screening for soldiers hit by depleted uranium bullets or fragments.
When pressed by Rose on how Syria would respond to an American attack, Assad said the U.S. should expect everything," not just from states in the region, but also from the different armed groups that operate there.
"You have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideology. You have everything in this region now,"
Rose asked if the U.S. should expect to see chemical warfare.
"That depends if the rebels or the terrorists in this region or any other group have it, it could happen. I'm not a fortune teller to tell you what's going to happen," the Syrian president replied.
Its an area where everything is on the brink of explosion, he added. You have to expect everything.
INTERACTIVE: Humanitarian crisis in Syria
Syria's War Click for Al Jazeera's special coverage of the conflict in Syria Kerry told Lavrov on Monday that his comments about Syria avoiding a military strike if it turned over control of its chemical weapons were rhetorical and not meant to be a proposal, adding that the U.S. would not "play games," but would take a look at a proposal if it was serious, Reuters reported.
In a speech delivered from the White House, following a meeting with Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton credited Kerry and Russia's government with floating the proposal, saying that such a move would be an "important step."
Obama and his administration have accused Assad's government of using chemical weapons against civilians outside the country's capital Damascus last month. U.S. estimates put the death toll at more than 1,400 a figure that includes more than 400 children. More than 100,000 people in total have been killed in the civil war since it began in March 2011.
Meanwhile White House national security adviser Susan Rice said any U.S. military action in Syria "would not be another war." Rice, speaking at the New America Foundation think tank Monday, said the Obama administration and allies have exhausted other measures to stop Syria's use of weapons.
Live blog: Crisis in Syria
War-weary public, Congress
Congress began debate on authorizing military strikes against Syria Monday after returning from a month-long August recess. The debate comes amid poll numbers that show more than 60 percent of Americans are against U.S.-led strikes in Syria.
The Obama administration has furiously lobbied lawmakers and a war-weary public in a struggle to gain support for a retaliatory military strike against Syria, blamed for a deadly chemical weapons attack last month.
"I will vote 'no' because of too much uncertainly about what comes next," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. "After Step A, what will be steps B, C, D and E?" he added, reflecting concerns that even the limited action Obama was contemplating could lead to a wider war.
But not all lawmakers are against Obama.
"Today, many Americans say that these atrocities are none of our business, that they're not our concern," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said of Assad's alleged gassing of civilians on Aug. 21. "I disagree. Any time the powerful turn such weapons of terror and destruction against the powerless, it is our business."
Opposition to the United States conducting airstrikes in Syria has skyrocketed, according to a new poll conducted by USA Today and the Pew Research Center.
According to the study, 64 percent of Americans do not support a military airstrike in Syria.
The poll comes one day before Obama is scheduled to address the nation about the potential airstrike.
Obama, for his part, tried to make the case that responding to what happened in Syria represented a "long-term national security interest."
"I believe I can make a very strong case to Congress, as well as the American people, about why we can't leave our children a world in which other children are being subjected to nerve gas, and that it is in our interest if we can take a limited step that has a makes a meaningful difference, it's worth it for us to do that," he told PBS's Newshour.
The whole episode has degenerated into the worst comedy in world diplomatic history
“...The whole episode has degenerated into the worst comedy in world diplomatic history .”
Led, of course, by the ultimate comedian/dork/felon.
Great discussion this AM about this subject:
Hoping someone in the media will explore this idea.
France has a foreign minister? And he’s named after a deodorant?
That’s nothing. America has a foreign president. And he’s named after a terrorist.
A UN resolution presented by France.
All we need now is weapons inspections led by Hans Blitz and a “No Fly” Zone over Syria. Call me in 12 years.....
What could possibly go wrong ??
I like how Putin is getting credit for Horse face’s blunder/offer.
That must really piss O’bastard off. The ‘D’ team will get no credit now, no matter what happens.
I need to search the Washington Post, but they reported a few days ago that Russia’s foreign minister called Kerry when Kerry’s plan was about two hours from landing in Eurpoe and told Kerry that Putin would be floating this idea with Syria.
Kerry broke the secrecy when he blurted out the idea.
I hate how the press is trying to give Kerry credit for a Russian idea. Sad.
I do like that they are describing it as “Russia’s Offer”...
takes Obama out of the solution!
As it should be
When has a Muslim ever kept his word?
I dealt with Arabs for years and years. They always kept their word. They were trustworthy.
I had dealings with French and Koreans. Neither could be trusted even when backed by contracts 10 yards long. Neither group was trustworthy.
My thought is that Russia knows that they can make much better use of a nice stockpile of chemical weapons. One terrorist organization equipping another one in my book. And Odumbo is totally complicit and smiling his approval as he lines up his putt to hit the ball through the clown’s mouth (that surprisingly looks just like Kerry).