Moves by Russia and Syria to prevent military intervention from the US by handing over chemical weapons are to be welcomed and encouraged, but must not be allowed to become a ploy to distract the international community from responding decisively to the Assad regime.
The Henry Jackson Society, an international affairs think tank, has warned the Russian commitment to collect and hand over chemical weapons stockpiles will only be effective if they are supported by a Chapter VII UN Resolution outlining the proviso that this must happen immediately.
If not, the HJS warns, both President Putin and President Assad could use the process as a ploy aimed solely at avoiding military intervention and distracting the international community from the continuing civil war in Syria, or from punishing the regime for its use of chemical weapons.
Dr Alan Mendoza, Executive Director of the HJS, welcomed the move and noted it had only come about as a result of the threat of international intervention in Syria.
He said: “Assad is going to have to prove that he’s serious about giving up his chemical weapons, which seems unlikely given that he is yet to admit he even has them.
“And Putin, for his part, is also going to have to prove that he’s serious about collecting and handing over Assad’s weapons to the West. A clear way for him to signal this commitment would be to sign up to a UN Chapter VII Resolution, conceding it must happen immediately and completely if military intervention is to be avoided.
“It is also vital to note that this slim diplomatic lifeline, however unlikely, has only come about because of the sustained threat of action against Assad from the West. That pressure must be maintained if it is to have any hope of succeeding and bringing about a close to the Syrian crisis.”
The Henry Jackson Society, which is headquartered in London with representatives in Washington and New York, has produced a significant number of publications on the Syrian crisis and has consistently argued that military intervention is the only way to bring President Assad to the negotiating table.