A face-saving move for all


The Russian proposal to place Syrian chemical weapons stocks under UN control to which President Bashar Al Assad regime has agreed is a sort of coup...

The Russian proposal to place Syrian chemical weapons stocks under UN control to which President Bashar Al Assad regime has agreed is a sort of coup pulled off by President Vladimir Putin and it’s so successful that it has caught the US unawares. In fact, it is a face-saving move for the West and the Arab world which are itching to launch air strikes against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons against rebels and civilians, including children, but are unable to do so because of either domestic or international compulsions.

Ever since the gory images of August 21 attack in Damascus suburbs have emerged, the US, the UK and France have launched a global campaign for a ‘limited’ blitzkrieg to destroy chemical arms in Syria. Damascus has denied the allegation that it had used sarin gas that is reported to have killed nearly a thousand people and injured hundreds and blames rebels for poisoning the population to rope in the US.

President Barack Obama has kept the battle plans ready but delayed the action pending Congressional approval while the House of Commons has voted out Prime Minister David Cameron’s move to involve Britain in the Syrian conflict. French President Francois Hollande too wanted parliament approval before pushing his country forward. And, the United Nations which has sent arms inspectors to Syria to probe the allegations is awaiting a report.

When war clouds are gathering around Syria, President Bashar accepting the Russian proposal is an anti-climax to the war hysteria generated by the Pentagon and Obama readily accepting the proposal and putting on hold any military strike. In a televised address to the nation on Tuesday, Obama said he would pursue diplomatic efforts to remove Syria’s chemical weapons but should they fail “the US military would be in a position to respond.”
In other words, he has kept the military option open, even if US allies back down in the absence of UN authorization. His statement is sheer bravado since he knows that the House is unlikely to okay his Syrian action plan and only the other day he had confessed that he was short of 50 votes to get a green signal. When he was thinking of how to wriggle out of the sticky situation, his bete noire Putin came to his rescue in an ironical way. But that is no great relief for a President who is being pilloried for dilly-dallying and anti-Bashar forces in Syria were the unhappiest lot as the pressure on the Syrian government shifts from a military solution to diplomatic efforts.
Nevertheless, the de-escalation has had positive effect on the world, particularly on the oil prices which have started coming down, easing economic and financial crises in countries like India where the market has shown buoyancy soon after the news broke out. While easing tensions in Middle East is a welcome sign, it is a victory for Russia in the troubled region to upstage the US effortlessly.
The Kremlin might have warded off an imminent American attack on its close ally in that region, but it has not addressed the real problem that has been plaguing the country for over two years. That is, the credibility crisis between the people and the Bashar regime. If Syria thinks that by agreeing to place chemical weapons under international control its hands will be clean, it is mistaken. Still, they are bloodied and if Moscow is prepared to play an effective mediatory role, the time starts now.
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