The Russian foreign minister’s support for international control over Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal is a big deal, it seems to me. And the scenario for this sweet spot in dealing with Assad’s chemical weapons is not new. Here is Israel’s former intelligence head, Amos Yadlin, on how that compromise could turn a disaster into something far more constructive:
"Were Putin to offer to take Assad’s chemical weapons out of Syria, said Yadlin in an Israeli Channel 2 news interview, “that would be an offer that could stop the attack.” It would be a “genuine achievement” for President Barack Obama to have ensured the clearing out of Assad’s capacity, and that would justify holding fire, said Yadlin. For Putin, such a deal would also keep the US from acting militarily in a state with which Russia is closely allied.
The UN Secretary General has also now endorsed the idea.
And some recent tweets:
It certainly appears that Russia and Syria believe Obama will strike. They probably also believe they can win without chemical weapons, which may be true. But we will not strike if there is a real chance of getting the Syrian chemical weapons under international control. And note that this is the first time Syria has officially admitted to having these weapons; so my instinct is that Russia and Syria are serious about turning them over to avoid a US strike. Suspect the next step may well be a Security Council call for Syria to turn over all CW by a date certain.
What will the US do right now? My guess: proceed with a conditional authorization, on a slightly slower schedule, to see if Russia moves this forward through the UN Security Council. If they do, we might or might not continue with a conditional authorization.
And here's my overall prediction: Obama may or may not secure a conditional authorization. In either case, Russia will take the lead in getting Syria to turn over their CW weapons. There will not be a strike. And this will be a big win for Obama.