Chemical Weapons Increase Talk of Syria Intervention
According to U.S. officials, “the Syrian military is prepared to use chemical weapons against its own people and is awaiting orders from President Bashar Assad.” As of the report there was no evidence that nerve agents had been fully weaponized or loaded onto planes, but that they had been “locked and loaded inside…bombs.” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the administration is just as “concerned about Syria’s chemical weapons falling into the hands of Syrian rebels” as they are about Assad using them against his own people, given the rebel forces are known to consist of Islamist units and several brigades said to be linked to al-Qaeda. A YouTube video posted on by“Damascus Command” reinforced such fears by claiming to show a mujaheddin brigade raising their flag over a captured Syrian army air defense base. Another rebel group, “al-Nusra Front” is soon to be designated as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” by the U.S. Department of State in hopes of isolating extremist groups from the opposition and the new political body.
It has also been announced that “top U.S. and Russian diplomats will hold a surprise meeting [December 6] with the United Nations’ peace envoy for Syria” to negotiate a path forward in Syria. Meanwhile, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad accused NATO of using the “chemical weapons ‘chorus’” as an excuse to intervene in Syria. Mekdad insisted the deployment of Patriot missiles in Turkey was “provocative” and further indication NATO wants to invade Syria. There has been speculation that Assad is currently seeking asylum in a number of different Latin American countries, however, Syrian officials have denied such claims.
It is hard to tell what reports of chemical weapons might signal for intervention in Syria, argued Tony Karon in Time. “The real issue here isn’t moral or legal. It’s psychological – and therefore political,” said Michael Crowley. “The fact is that Assad’s use of chemical weapons would generate a degree of revulsion and outrage that would give the West the political cover required for direct intervention, he added.” “There are other concerns in Syria. Rape is tearing Syrians apart. The concept of purity is destroying their lives on top of it all,” reminded Lauren Wolfe.