Syria – A World First

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In a country that until recently was unknown to many, a world first is occurring. That is the disposal of chemical weapons during an on-going civil war! It is alleged, by the West, that on 21st August outside the Ghouta area of Damascus the chemical agent Sarin was used to kill hundreds of people.

With the American governments “red line” having been breached but unwilling to enter into another situation like Iraq a deal was struck with Russia (a major supporter of Syria) on 14th September to destroy Syria’s chemical weapon stocks by mid-2014. This tall order is complicated by some small issues. First it is believed by some that Syria has the largest chemical weapon stockpiles in the world (according to Israel), secondly is that Syria in the “comprehensive” listing it provided under the US-Russia deal of its chemical weapon facilities, munitions and agents has provided details which according to some Western intelligence is below the believed amount Syria possesses though it must be noted that this is an improvement of its previous denial of having chemical weapons at all. And finally this difficult destruction of deadly agents will almost certainly happen in a war zone. Since 2011 when the civil war began with the rebels aiming to oust President Bashar al-Assad and the Ba’ath Party over 100,000 people have been killed and millions have fled the country.

The group dealing with this is the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and at the risk of making light of a damning conflict with dire repercussions for millions of people. How many people in the OPCW just called in sick? The situation in Syria is appalling with little end in sight and no consensus or even hashed out idea of what to do next. The only plan the west has is to not get involved and assuming the destruction of the chemical weapons works properly; the civil war will still be going on. At a time when America has a small financial problem and Britain has decided to look the other way there is no one prepared or able to step up.

The Syrian question is complex and appears to have no winner whatever decision is made. But what is beyond doubt is that the longer this goes on, the more the Syrian people will continue to suffer with little to nothing being done to help.

Jack Fennell

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