No one in the Middle East will be studying Ukraineâs violent tragedy with more fascination â and deeper concern â than President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
Hala Jabar’s photos from the beseged Yarmouk Refugee Camp, a mix of Palestinians and Syrians, undergoing hell few of us can imagine. - Via Electronic Intifada
A 20-strong international team of engineers, chemists and paramedics leave the Netherlands for Syria on Monday to embark on the most hazardous mission in the history of disarmament: to dismantle one of the world’s biggest chemical weapons arsenals, during a civil war, under extreme deadline pressure.
In 35C heat inspectors from the international Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will, at times, wear body armour and helmets over their chemical protection suits, sometimes carrying air tanks on their backs, in their efforts to abide by a UN security council resolution to destroy about 1,000 tonnes of nerve agents such as sarin and other poisonous gases such as sulphur mustard.
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad vowed to co-operate with the mission in an interview with Italy’s RAI News 24 TV. “Of course we have to comply [with the UN resolution]. This is our history to comply with every treaty we sign,” he said.
The inspectors are due to arrive in Damascus on Tuesday. They will need to work quickly to meet the tight deadlines agreed by the security council on Friday."
Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) mobilizes protests across the country to demand no imperialist attack on Syria, August 31, 2013.
Since the late 1990s, the US has made great efforts to destroy its own chemical weapons caches, and facilitating the process in the handful of other so-called “possessor states” – in some cases helping fund the process through aid.
However, technological and political challenges have resulted in lengthy delays. By missing its deadlines, the US and other countries have arguably breached a founding principle of the same treaty cited as a reason to justify an attack on Syria…
The United States promised, but failed, to destroy these stocks by 2012 at the very latest. The most recent forecast from the US is that the process of “neutralising” the chemicals in its Colorado weapons dump will be finished by 2018; the date for Kentucky is 2023. That will be 11 years after the US promised to destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles, and eight years after Russia – the other major possessor of declared chemical weapons – says it will have finished destroying its arsenal.
About 2,611 tons of mustard gas remains stockpiled in Pueblo, Colorado. The second stockpile, in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, is smaller – 524 tons – but more complicated to decommission, because it consists of a broader range of lethal gases and nerve agents, many of which are contained within weaponry.
Although the process of constructing neutralisation facilities in Colorado and Kentucky is well under way, both plants have still not begun testing procedures. The nature of the Kentucky stockpile makes it particularly difficult to destroy.
"They have every agent there and every weapon – rockets, artillery shells, landmines, spray tanks and aerial bombs," said Paul Walker, a program director at Green Cross International, which has facilitated the destruction of chemical weapons in the US and Russia since the mid-1990s."
Whomever wrote the comments that follow is an idiot…. Pinochet was a US installed/supported capitalist dictator, Assad has routinely resisted our imperialist policies in the Middle East. And let’s be honest…. supporting most of Obama’s policies?!?!?!?!?! But MoveOn is big. Sweet support.
While I voted for President Obama twice (2008, 2012) and support most of his policies, I think he is misguided on the handling of #Syria, with the exception of making Congress vote on whether or not to go to war or not with them. I understand that Bashar Al-Assad is a horrible Pinochet-esque man, but the US does NOT need to go into Syria.
This week’s statement by the US defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, that his country’s armed forces are preparing for a strike on Syria appears to have produced a marked shift in the public position taken by the Iranian leadership on Tehran’s primary Middle Eastern ally.
Early this year, Ali Akbar Velayati, the top international affairs adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said of Syria’s embattled president: “Bashar al-Assad is our red line and we will support him to the end.” Three weeks ago, the conservative Alef website featured a letter from Assad that was hand delivered to Khamenei, which read: “With the support of steadfast, visionary and strong allies like Iran we are certain of victory.”
On Wednesday, however, in his first meeting with President Hassan Rouhani’s new cabinet, Khamenei limited himself to expressing Iran’s strong kinship with Syria and characterising a potential western attack as “a certain catastrophe”. Avoiding any pledge of specific support, he raised his palms in prayer, saying: “I hope merciful God protects this region from the menace of America and Zionism and other evils.”
Khamenei’s silence about defending Assad was underscored by a subsequent report from the semi-official Fars news agency on a speech delivered by General Mohammad Ali Jafari, chief of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. In extensive excerpts of his address to a conference of ground force commanders, there was not a single word about Syria.
A year ago, by contrast, Colonel Mohammad Ali Asoodi, the head of the guards’ culture and propaganda office, said: “If America attacks Syria, Iran, along with Syrian allies will go into action.”"
— The Guardian on Iran’s sentiments on Syria
Well, if the Israeli PM promises it, we can be relatively sure the US government will make sure it happens….
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