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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid