Discussions over U.N. Resolution Begin as Doubts in Syria Continue
Just one day after President Obama made his slightly muddled speech to the nation, discussions have already begun over the proposed UN resolution that would put Syria's chemical weapons stockpile under international control.
According to the AP, talks between Russia, France, and the U.S. over the details of the United Nations proposal are already snagging Wednesday over the Kremlin's reluctance to authorize military force if the effort fails. The proposal would have the Syrian government hand over all of its chemical weapons.
Secretary of State John Kerry is due to head to Geneva on Thursday to meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, and the hope is that they'll find a way to see eye to eye.
Following the President's primetime address to the nation Tuesday night, in which he seemed to table military intervention in favor of diplomacy (mostly), critics appear to be hesitantly jumping on board.
According to a CNN instant poll, most Americans who watched the address seemed to favor the approach to Syria that Obama presented in his speech. Forty-seven percent of those polled thought Obama made a convincing case for U.S. military action, while 50 percent said he didn't — roughly two-thirds said that they thought the situation in Syria would "likely" be resolved diplomatically.
And Iran, a close ally of the Syrian regime, is already keen for the West to see the proposal through.
"We hope that the new U.S. attitude toward Syria would be a serious policy and not a media campaign," Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said.
As for Syria? They're saying that the acceptance of the proposition is a sign of strength. Cabinet minister Ali Haidar said Wednesday that they did not agree to the proposal out of "fear of any enemy," but rather got rid of a pretext for war against Syria — although he admitted that the threat of foreign military intervention remains.
But doubts are still flying over how feasible the proposal would actually be.
“It is doable, and potentially a great idea, but let’s not be naive,” an arms-control researcher told the Washington Post. “If you can get around the legal and logistical questions, securing the stocks might be relatively easy to achieve. But if you add destruction of the munitions, you have to think in terms of years.”
"We don't believe that this delay for any kind of intervention will stop the regime from killing Syrian people or be for the Syrian people's benefit," said a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group. "It will give Assad more time, and every minute, every day, every hour that passes will cost us more blood and Bashar will continue killing and nothing will change."
Meanwhile, a UN commission announced Wednesday that over the past year and a half, eight massacres have been perpetrated by President Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria. One was also instigated by opposition forces.
"Relentless shelling has killed thousands of civilians and displaced the populations of entire towns. Massacres and other unlawful killings are perpetrated with impunity," the commission said. "An untold number of men, children and women have disappeared. Many are killed in detention; survivors live with physical and mental scars of torture. Hospitals and schools have been bombarded."
The commission also said that rebel forces have perpetrated war crimes of their own, including the shelling of civilian neighborhoods, taking hostages, and executing Syrians.
The report called for a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis, and it's looking like — if Kerry and Lavrov can hash it out — that's now at least a possibility.