What Will Happen to Syria's Chemical Weapons? This is Just the Beginning.


Secretary of State John Kerry announced on September 14 that the U.S. and Russia have come to an agreement on how to handle the Syria situation, creating a tentative deal that will force Syria to destroy all chemical weapons by mid 2014. Syria has one week to submit a detailed weapons report explaining what chemical weapons they contain. The Middle Eastern nation will also have to allow international inspectors by November. Although this diplomatic deal is a step in the right direction, it will not mark the end of the troubles in Syria.

According to Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, everything reached in the agreement is “bogus.” He wisely asserts that not everything about Syria’s troubles is about chemical weapons. He cites a small town outside of Damascus that has been denied food supplies by the government as an un-talked about issue that will continue even after the chemical weapons ordeal is resolved. Even though international diplomats have come to an agreement, the civil war will still go on and killing will still occur, even if it’s not in the form of chemical warfare.

The deal drawn up by U.S. politicians is helping save our president’s and government’s reputation. Elected officials backed themselves into a tiny corner after stating action will be taken in Syria. This deal, exemplifying international cooperation, gives President Obama a quick exit that saves face. Although Obama’s deal can illustrate diplomacy by force, it doesn’t solve the chemical weapons issue, let alone the real problem.

There is a strong sense of wishful thinking within the deal, with the assumption that we can disarm Syria of chemical weapons completely. We’ll be able to destroy what we know of or find but Syria has likely been moving much of their chemical stockpiles with speculation centered on Iraq as the possible destination. Military analyst, Rick Francona, stated, “I just find it inconceivable no matter what he or his foreign minister says they're going to give up what they believe is their strategic deterrence against Israel,” illustrating the unlikelihood this deal will play out as well in reality as it does in theory. Russia did announce they will support resolution through the UN Security Council (which they previously wouldn’t) if Syria does not comply with the agreement. This is unforeseen because it leaves military action or possible sanctions still on the table.

The struggle with Syria will continue if and when the chemical weapons deal does not play out as it is supposed to. The bigger issue the U.S. must address, if they wish to continue to play a role in Syrian politics, is confronting the dysfunctional regime that controls Syria. Similar to other Middle Eastern countries experiencing political instability as part of the Arab Spring, Syria’s rebel opposition are fighting for a more democratic society. If the U.S. or UN Security Council does not follow through on the agreement and strongly enforce the Syrian-Russian declaration, it may have severe repercussions in terms of Syrian leadership.