It was only a month ago that the possibility of the military intervention of the United States to Syria was being mentioned because of chemical weapons. The necessary preparations for such an operation were being made; the Obama administration was looking for ways to convince the Congress…
Today, a military operation against Syria is not in question; also, it is not being discussed anymore whether Bashar al-Assad is responsible for the usage of chemical weapons. Instead of these issues, all the attention is focused on the destruction of chemical weapon stocks in Syria.
There is a development on this matter: The Unites Nations inspectors Syria surprisingly opened its door to have destroyed the first stock of chemical weapons the other day. Therefore, it is accepted that the al-Assad regime has kept its promise and has acted in compliance with the unanimous decision of the U.N. Security Council.
It is a significant development that the al-Assad regime, which was challenging the international community up until, now is now opening its military facilities to U.N. inspectors and has agreed to the destruction of its chemical weapon stocks. However, it is apparent that Bashar al-Assad, with this maneuver of his, is aiming to make his existence accepted and secure the continuation of his regime.
As a matter of fact, we do see that the recent development has gained him some points.
In this context, the reaction of the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is interesting. Kerry said he was happy that Syria has reached the stage of destroying its chemical weapons sooner than expected. He also said Bashar al-Assad deserved appreciation with this.
Many people were surprised that the U.S. minister used almost praising expressions for the al-Assad regime which he was seriously opposing until yesterday. Actually, this contradiction shows that the American
diplomacy today is at this stage:
1 – The military operation that was frequently mentioned last month is no longer in question. The Unites States prefers to solve the chemical weapons issue through diplomacy and especially through cooperating with Russia, not by military means.
2 – The fact that the civil war in Syria is continuing and many people are dying every day is the number one issue in the U.S.A. – as it is in the international community. Nobody considers ending this through military means.
3 – The U.S. has always wanted al-Assad to leave in principle, but in practice, it does not put this as a prerequisite for a solution. The process regarding the chemical weapons (until 2014 June) guarantees that the regime in Damascus will remain in power for a long time. Consequently, the U.S. is coming closer to the idea of a solution (including Geneva II) where the al-Assad regime will be included.
The fact that the U.S. Secretary of State has praised al-Assad in his recent statement does reveal the “new flexibility” of the Syrian policies of the U.S.
Ankara’s stance on the other hand is continuing as it is. The Prime Minister scolds al-Assad at every opportunity and this time, he said “terrorist;” also he found Kerry’s words conflicting.
The government insists on its stance of pressuring Syria not only for chemical weapons but also for the civil war and before anything else, for al-Assad to be toppled.
Latest developments show that the truss distance between the U.S.A. and Ankara
is widening. Sami Kohen is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece was published on Oct. 9. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.