The Middle East Channel

France, Britain, and the U.S. call for “strong” resolution on Syria

France, Britain, and the United States, after talks Monday, have agreed to seek a strong resolution on Syria with "precise and binding deadlines" for the Syrian regime to turn over its chemical weapons arsenal. The talks have come two days after the United States reached a deal with Russia for the Syrian government to provide ...

LARRY DOWNING/AFP/Getty Images
LARRY DOWNING/AFP/Getty Images

France, Britain, and the United States, after talks Monday, have agreed to seek a strong resolution on Syria with "precise and binding deadlines" for the Syrian regime to turn over its chemical weapons arsenal. The talks have come two days after the United States reached a deal with Russia for the Syrian government to provide a "comprehensive listing" of its chemical arsenal within a week and for the removal or destruction of all its chemical weapons by the middle of 2014. The deal included a provision for the use of force under Chapter VII of the U.N. Security Council charter if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does not comply. On Monday, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will present findings from a U.N. chemical weapons investigation report on Syria to the U.N. Security Council. While the report will not reveal who carried out an attack in a Damascus suburb on August 21, Ban said he expects it will offer "overwhelming" confirmation that chemical arms were used. Meanwhile, Iran is believed to be playing a broader role in the Syrian conflict by training militiamen to fight at bases in Iran, but additionally, a video recently posted online appears to show military advisors from Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards outside Aleppo.

Headlines

Arguments and Analysis

How to Save the Syrians‘ (Michael Ignatius, The New York Review of Books Blog)

"The fact is that what law forbids conscience may still command. What law forbids international peace and security might still require. What is legal is not always legitimate. Those who argue that international legality is the sine qua non for legitimate action in the international arena ignore the fact that there are situations of extreme necessity in both domestic and international law where obeying the strict letter of the law may allow a greater harm to occur.

When legality and legitimacy part company, as they have done in Syria, those who say strict legality must prevail have an obligation to explain how this squares with morality, just as those say that morality should prevail need to explain why they are justified in breaking the law.

A veto at the Security Council against protecting civilians in Syria has moral consequences. Such vetoes enable a ruler to continue butchering his own people and driving millions into exile. If a veto has these ghastly consequences, who would call it legitimate? Who would dare believe that such a veto strengthens the rule of law?"

The U.S.-Russian Deal on Syria: A Victory for Assad‘ (Shadi Hamid, The Atlantic)

"A deal with Russia on chemical weapons may be a ‘win’ for President Obama but only in the narrowest sense. He managed to avoid a war he desperately did not want. But with the near-obsessive focus on chemical-weapons use, the core issues have been pushed to the side. These were always more or less the same — a regime bent on killing and terrorizing its own people and a brutal civil war spilling over into the rest of the region, fanning sectarian strife and destabilizing Syria’s neighbors.

For his part, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is effectively being rewarded for the use of chemical weapons, rather than ‘punished’ as originally planned. He has managed to remove the threat of U.S. military action while giving very little up in return. Obscured in the debate of the past few weeks is that chemical weapons were never central to the Syrian regime’s military strategy. It doesn’t need to use chemical weapons. In other words, even if the regime does comply with inspections (which could drag on for months if not years), it will have little import for the broader civil war, which Assad remains intent on winning."

–Mary Casey & Joshua Haber

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