Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dore Gold: What Might Be Expected in Monitoring Syria: Lessons from Past Middle East Weapons Inspection

Dore Gold describes What Might Be Expected in Monitoring Syria: Lessons from Past Middle East Weapons Inspections.

Here is the executive outline of the article:
  • Weapons experts point to the successes of the West in both Iraq and Libya in destroying large weapons arsenals. Yet there are certain problems that weapons inspectors have had to deal with over the years that are common to all attempts to deal with control of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) of rogue regimes in the Middle East.

  • The terms of the cease-fire that ended the 1991 Gulf War, UN Security Council Resolution 687, demanded that Iraq accept the destruction of all chemical and biological weapons. A key provision was a requirement that Iraq submit within 15 days a declaration on the locations, amounts, and types of chemical and biological weapons it possessed.

  • Iraq delayed fulfilling this most basic requirement for years. The quantities of chemical agents that Iraq eventually destroyed had no meaning unless they were measured against the amounts that Iraq possessed to begin with.

  • Like other Middle Eastern rogue states, Syria will not have an interest to fully disclose the extent of its chemical arsenal. Deception and concealment have always been part of the arms control process among these states and there is no reason to assume that Syria will be different.

  • While Syria’s chemical arsenal is concentrated in government-held areas, access routes to suspected sites will require weapons inspectors to move through territories held by opposition groups.

  • Based on past experience, it may be expected that over time, the political conditions that led to the U.S.-Russian agreement are likely to erode. Russia and Syria itself are likely to use diplomacy to help dissipate the threat of the use of force, which had been pivotal in creating the conditions for obtaining the agreement to begin with.
Among the points Gold raises is the following interesting bit of history:
The threat of the use of force was in the background of all Middle East arms control breakthroughs with rogue regimes in the last twenty years. As already noted, UN Security Council Resolution 687 that called for the disarmament of Iraq from WMD was also the cease-fire resolution that ended the Gulf War.

Implicit in Resolution 687 was the threat that if Saddam Hussein failed to comply with its disarmament clauses, the U.S. and its coalition partners could resume military operations. After all, Resolution 687 was adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which meant that the Security Council had enforcement powers in the event it was violated, which it could exercise by itself or through UN member states. As Iraq considered what to do, the threat of the resumption of hostilities was always present.

Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein during 2004 Tribunal -- a fate Russia will see that
Assad never faces. Credit: Wiki Commons

Back in 1991, Russia fully backed the U.S.-led coalition and allowed for the language that appeared in Resolution 687. Fifteen years later the Russian role in drafting UN resolutions on the use of force against rogue regimes changed. Thus when the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1696, on July 31, 2006, and demanded that Iran halt its uranium enrichment program, it made only reference to a watered-down version of Chapter VII: The resolution was adopted under Article 40 of Chapter VII, but not under Article 42, which contained the threat to use force.

The Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, explained at the time that the new resolution on Iran “ruled out the use of military force.” With this modified Russian position, it has become more difficult to maintain pressure on states like Syria or Iran that defy binding UN resolutions or international norms. Russia is unlikely to change course on Syria and back the use of force in the event that the Syrian regime fails to comply with its obligations under a new UN Security Council Resolution.

As a matter of fact, in 2011, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev criticized NATO for taking UN Security Council Resolution 1973, establishing a no-fly zone for humanitarian purposes over Libya, and using it to authorize ground operations against Muammar Qaddafi. To this day, Moscow feels it was deceived by the West.
Read the whole thing.

There is no way that Russia is going to allow that to happen again.

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