Russia out-checked President Barack Obama Monday by suggesting that Syrian President Bassar al-Assad turn over his chemical weapons to international control for supervision and destruction, a move that would satisfy Americana demands to call off an attack
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov came up with the idea only hours after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the United States would call off the planned military strike if Assad turns over chemical weapons to international control by the end of the week.
Kerry added, Assad “isn’t about to do it.”
However, that was before Lavrov spoke. Russia is Syria’s strongest and only, supporter in the Western world.Moscow said, “Boo” and Assad blinked.
Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said the regime “welcomes Russia’s initiative, based on the Syrian government’s care about the lives of our people and security of our country.” The quick and positive response raises the possibility, if not probability, that Russian coordinated its proposal with Syria.
But how can Assad turn over chemicals weapons when he says he has none?
That should be no problem for him. All he has to do is report that his brave soldiers commandeered a rebel base in the middle of nowhere and confiscated the poison gas and other biological and chemical weapons.
The bigger problem, which Lavrov did not mention, is what happens if the United States rejects Assad’s claims that he has handed over all of the goods and is not keeping some stashed away for “safe keeping?”
Until the bridge has to be crossed, Lavrov first has to convince Assad to come clean, or at least half-clean.
Lavrov make it clear that Russia would try to convince Assad to turn over the chemical weapons on condition that it “would allow avoiding strikes.”
“We are calling on the Syrian leadership to not only agree on placing chemical weapons storage sites under international control, but also on its subsequent destruction and fully joining the treaty on prohibition of chemical weapons,” Lavrov said.
He added that he expects a “quick, and, hopefully, positive answer.”
The international control, presumably under the auspices of the United Nations, would take over the weapons and keep them out of the hands of rebels and Assad’s army.
If Assad agrees, then everyone could climb down the ladder for a while, except for that big problem of Assad’s likelihood to continue to walk straight as a snake and hold on to some of the weapons banned by international conventions.