November 16, 2013

Updates On Syria: Albania Refuses To Participate In The Destruction of Syria's CW, Assad's Army Is Winning, Al-Qaeda Finds Camping Ground On NATO's Border

An excerpt from, "No Surprise That No One Wants Syria's Chemical Weapon Stuff" by 'b' of Moon of Alabama, November 16:
The United States and Russia have both the specialized incineration capabilities to destroy chemical weapons, their precursors and the hazardous waste their neutralization creates. But Albania was left with the mess after it was pressed to destroy the weaponized stuff where a repackaging of the original weaponized chemicals would likely have been a much safer and longer term solution. Albania would have been crazy to accept more dangerous stuff as it is already left with mess the pressed for demilitarization of its own chemical weapons caused.

There are other examples where cooperation in U.S. non-proliferation initiatives leaves countries hung out to dry. Cyprus stored 98 containers of ammunition after the U.S. in 2009 pressed it to stop and confiscated the military load of a ship going from Iran to Syria. Two years later the containers exploded and destroyed a navy base. Several people were killed and half of Cyprus' power supply capacity was taken off the grid.

That no country is willing to take the 1,300 tons of Syrian chemical weapon precursors may turn out to be good for Syria. After those chemicals would be gone there would be a higher chance that the Syrian government, which is winning the war, would be attacked by the U.S. and its allies. As long as those chemicals are still around, watched over by the international inspectors, any attack could result in a reconstitution of Syria's chemical weapons. When the current war on Syria is over the destruction of the precursors could be done in place and in an organized and well planned matter that would leave only a minimal risk of doing more harm than good.
Albania is looking out for its national interest. They've learned from the past. This stance kills the illusion of an "international" nonproliferation regime. There is no such thing. 

An excerpt from, "Syria Update: Assad and His Government are Winning" by Hillary Mann and Flynt Leverett,, November 15:
We are pleased to feature an exceptionally insightful update on the Syrian conflict, prepared last month by our colleagues Aisling Byrne and Alastair Crooke at the Conflicts Forum.  As Syrian oppositionists, backed by the United States, continue to insist that President Bashar al-Assad must leave office before any political solution to the conflict can unfold, this report highlights the Assad government’s increasingly strong position, vis-à-vis opposition elements and regionally.  We repost it here with the Conflict Forum’s permission.

From the Conflicts Forum:

“Anyone who has visited Syria over the years can see the remarkable qualitative transformation that has now overtaken the Syrian army and security apparatus.  The Syrian army is no longer the lackadaisical, de-motivated entity it formerly was; it is now sharp, discretely efficient and self-confident.  Deference to the rich or influential who ride in expensive cars, or even in official cars, has gone:  there is no casual ‘waving through’ of check-points for anyone.  The army presence is not overly visible, but is evidently ‘there’ in the background, efficiently courteous and insistent.  The various rings of security around the capital do cause heavy traffic jams, but any visitor to Damascus will observe a city that is clean, with modern facilities, and which is functioning effectively and efficiently—if not exactly normally.
An army that fights is better than an army of drunkards that just sits around and picks their noses? Jeez, who knew? 

An excerpt from, "Turkey confronts policy missteps on Syria with rise of al-Qaeda across the border" by Liz Sly, The Washington Post, November 16:
A group affiliated with al-Qaeda controls the road leading south into Syria from this key border crossing on the front line of the debacle that Turkey’s Syria policy has become.

For more than a year, Turkey turned a blind eye as thousands of foreign volunteers from across the Muslim world streamed through the country en route to fight alongside Syria’s rebels, perhaps calculating that the fighters would help accelerate President Bashar al-Assad’s demise.

Now the extremists whose ranks the foreigners swelled are gaining ascendancy across northern Syria, putting al-Qaeda on NATO’s borders for the first time, raising fears of cross-border attacks and exposing how terribly Turkey’s efforts to bring about Assad’s removal have gone awry.

Meanwhile, in Damascus, Assad is showing every sign that he will ride out the revolt and perhaps remain in power for years, sustained in part by Western alarm at the rise of the extremists. The United States has served notice that it has no intention of intervening militarily, and Turkey, once the most vocal proponent of action to oust Assad, has been left to confront the consequences of what appears to have been a grave policy miscalculation.
NATO: say bye bye.