The Middle East Channel

OPCW reports Syria has destroyed chemical weapons equipment

OPCW reports Syria has destroyed chemical weapons equipment

Syria has destroyed or rendered inoperable all of its equipment for producing, mixing, and filling chemical weapons ahead of the November 1 deadline. Jerry Smith, from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said, "We have personally observed all of the destruction activities." The next deadline is November 15, at which point the OPCW and Syrian government must have agreed to a plan for the destruction of its chemical agents and munitions. Syria will have until mid-2014 to eliminate its entire chemical weapons arsenal. Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told U.N. and Arab League Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi that no political solution to the Syrian conflict could be reached without an end to foreign support for the opposition. Brahimi met in Damascus with Assad for the first time in 10 months in order to lay the groundwork for a planned international peace conference in Geneva. Assad said, "Only the Syrian people are authorized to shape the future of Syria." Yet the parties remain deeply divided with the main opposition group refusing to attend talks unless they are framed around Assad’s resignation, while Assad insists he will not participate unless opposition fighters lay down their arms. As fighting continues, hundreds of people fleeing the civil war are being "denied entry into Jordan" according to Amnesty International. Palestinian and Iraqi refugees who have been living in Syria and others without official identity documents, as well as unaccompanied men without family ties in Jordan, are being denied entry into the neighboring country.

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Arguments and Analysis

Syria: What Chance to Stop the Slaughter?‘ (Kenneth Roth, The New York Review of Books)

"As bad as things are in Syria, they could get worse. The conflict could become even more destructive than Lebanon’s in the 1980s, with the prospect of a decade or more of killing, displacement, and suffering. The longer the atrocities continue, the harder it will be to rebuild a highly diverse society. And more Syrians will be drawn to the brutality of the Islamic extremists who are in ascendancy among the rebels.

Russia may be indispensable for reining in Assad, but the rest of the world is essential for convincing Russia to do so. The chemical weapons deal represents the best opportunity since the war began to forge a unified international front to stop the slaughter in Syria. But that will happen only with a much more focused and consistent international effort — by both the West and others — to press Russia to live up to its responsibility to protect the people of Syria."

A Place for Women in Egypt’s Transition‘ (Nancy Messieh, Atlantic Council)

"Women’s rights in the amended constitution are limited by stating that a woman is equal to man, in accordance only with Islamic Sharia, and are painted in a framework of her duties to her family, and as a mother. The article does not stray far from the 2012 constitution drafted by an Islamist-dominated body, maintaining the vague wording that confines women’s rights to a patriarchal definition.

Away from the pages of dated and tired legislation, Egyptian women have been at the forefront of significant grassroots and youth movements — Mona Seif has been a leading voice for No to Military Trials movement, while Ragia Omran has worked tirelessly within the legal system as a human rights lawyer, securing the release of countless activists and protesters arrested by security forces. These are just two examples of many. As its political scene continues to mature, albeit slowly whether among men or women, at the very least, Egypt has begun to build a new generation of men and women who can be part of a more coherent, stable and democratic nation.

There is no better place to start with increased women’s participation than with the constitution and electoral laws. Enshrining women’s rights in these legislative documents is the first step towards increasing social awareness of women’s rights."

–Mary Casey & Joshua Haber