News / Middle East

    Concern Grows Over Middle East's WMD Arsenal

    Concern Grows Over Middle East's WMD Arsenali
    X
    October 01, 2013 3:11 PM
    Efforts to secure Syria's chemical weapons and regulate Iran's nuclear program have again raised the idea of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. But analysts say regional rivalries stand in the way. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott has more from our Middle East bureau in Cairo.
    "Concern Grows Over Middle East's WMD Arsenal" - related video report by Elizabeth Arrott
    Elizabeth Arrott
    Efforts to secure Syria's chemical weapons and regulate Iran's nuclear program have again raised the idea of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. But analysts say regional rivalries stand in the way.  
     
    A U.N. mission to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons, and efforts to regulate Iran's nuclear program, have raised hopes the Middle East is on its way to limiting the threat of weapons of mass destruction.
     
    But for political analysts like Professor Emad Shahin of the American University in Cairo, it's a long-standing, and long-odds, dream.
     
    “The region will be much better off it is chemical free and nuclear free." he said. "However, this has been on the table for decades.”

    Transparency is one of the obstacles. Iran dismisses Western accusations it is seeking nuclear weapons. Syria only confirmed its chemical stockpile when threatened with a U.S. missile strike.
     
    Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Iran are all believed to have chemical weapons, as is Israel, which also has unacknowledged nuclear capability.
     
    While piecemeal efforts to contain the threat are underway, political sociologist Said Sadek argues the problem should be looked at in its totality.
     
    “This has to be a joint effort by all participants," he said. "But as long as there is conflict, there is always justification for keeping the weapons.”
     
    As with many issues in the region, debate often turns to Israel. Emad Shahin said, “There is a kind of a defense doctrine that has been imposed on the region, whether it is deliberate or not, but it's a de facto doctrine that Israel should be militarily superior to all its neighbors combined.”

    The perception of a regional imbalance colors current efforts at disarmament, despite the apparent deterrence such weapons imposed on Israel and Syria for decades. Again, Emad Shahin said, “Dismantling these arsenals as a way of pressuring countries, while at the same time maintaining this strategic imbalance between regional powers, this is what really creates lots of problems.”
     
    So, too, argue some, is the way President Obama handled the Syrian crisis. backing down from strikes for the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, says Said Sadek, will encourage the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction by others.

    "For Obama, he wanted face saving. He wanted new ways," he said. "There is no way you can solve Iran's nuclear program. And the credibility of the U.S. has been bruised with this Syrian chemical issue.  Assad got away with it."
     
    Although Iran maintains its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes, many in the region, not just Israel, are skeptical.
     
    “It can also push some countries like Egypt and also Saudi Arabia to seek their own nuclear programs and try to do some balance,” he said

    It's a scenario, Sadek says, that despite international efforts, could push the volatile region into an even greater arms race.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora