News / Middle East

Syria Weapons Deal Could Change Dynamic of War

Syria Weapons Deal Could Change Dynamic of Wari
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September 18, 2013 10:02 PM
Middle East analysts say the agreement to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons is a potential game-changer in the bloody civil war. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports from Washington.
Meredith Buel
Middle East analysts say the agreement to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons is a potential game-changer in the bloody civil war.

The chemical weapons deal has not lessened the furious fighting in Syria’s civil war. Analysts say it will have long-term consequences, though, bolstering President Bashar al-Assad, while infuriating rebels trying to oust him.

Steven Bucci, who directs foreign policy studies at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, said, “On the ground, the resistance forces are probably the losers in this, and Bashar al-Assad is clearly the winner. He has now gotten some cover and credibility both from Russia and now from the rest of the international community.”

Appearing on ABC’s This Week, President Barack Obama disagreed. “It is hard to envision how Mr. Assad regains any kind of legitimacy after he has gassed or his military has gassed innocent civilians and children.”

The agreement removes the immediate possibility of an American military strike because Assad said he now will give up his chemical weapons.

Rebels who hoped to regain momentum believe they now are facing the likelihood of a government escalation.

The biggest group of rebel fighters is led by General Salim Idris, who said, “We think that the Russians and the Syrian regime are playing games to waste time and to win time for the criminal regime in Damascus.”

Analysts say the deal elevates Russian President Vladimir Putin's standing internationally, while Moscow continues to provide Damascus with weapons.

Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center, said, “Russia has raised its strategic profile. It is on a level with the United States in terms of importance in determining the affairs of the Middle East.”

Shaikh said that could affect America's influence in the region. “President Obama himself may well be projecting a more weaker presidency for having not taken the action he said he would take.”

So while Assad holds court in his palace, human rights groups say his forces kill at an alarming rate.  

“I would say he is good for at least a year, year-and-a-half, which is sad because he is a horrific dictator and he has been doing terrible things to the Syrian people and they deserve better than that,” said Bucci.

So while chemical weapons may be taken off the battlefield, conventional weapons will continue to claim a deadly toll as the war in Syria grinds on.

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by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
September 19, 2013 11:05 PM
It is clear those who appeal to the use of weapons are always losers in disputes and conflicts after all, even when they aim at retaliation.

by: Regula from: USA
September 18, 2013 8:39 PM
The commentators are all very ready to accuse Russia of supporting Assad. But the fact that the US supports al Qaida and linked groups which make up about 50% of the fighters on the battlefield and that the US continues to arm them, that the commentators don't think is outrageous - even more so as the entire civil war was instigated by the US/KSA/Israel/Turkey/Qatar. Yes, Russia looks good now because Putin and Lavrov stood by Assad who is the legitimate government of Syria and rightfully classify the jihadis including rebels as invading terrorists. Assad isn't half as brutal as the jihadis and the US/Israel are. But the western press likes to mix up the facts with a brutal hit-down of separatists under his father. The US didn't think Assad was too brutal to rendition innocent people which the CIA picked up while they were vacationing in another country.

As to the chemical weapons, it doesn't make a difference with how many supposed rockets stuck in the dirt they want to prove it was Assad who gassed his people - why would he gas civilians who aren't his enemy rather than the rebels who are? The evidence may well have been falsified before the UN investigators arrived. US intelligence has no images of any rockets fired from that position. And all the more after the US and KSA deliver the weapons to the rebels. It is pretty clear that the CIA staged this stuff. There are too many testimonies by people in Syria who point to the rebels and too much sarin found in the hands of al Qaida.

by: LieutenantCharlie from: USA
September 18, 2013 8:33 PM
The U.S. President Bozo Bungles makes America look bad every time he opens his mouth.
It is easy to see how he flunked out of three (3) Colleges when he talks. He appears to be almost an Idiot.
In Response

by: Greg deGiere from: Sacramento, CA
September 19, 2013 11:35 PM
It's fine that VOA allows wide open comment, even to the point of calling the president names.

But VOA is to some extend responsible for the factual accuracy of comments it allows to be posted here. To say that Obama "flunked out of three colleges" is simply and provably inaccurate and should be omitted here.

by: Az Boomer from: Scottsdale Az
September 18, 2013 8:13 PM
So Assad gassed innocent people..The rebels took over a Christian villkage and shot those that didn't convert to Islam. It's called a civil war because Americans can't understand a religious hate war. Unlike a civil war, which ever side wins they will still try to eliminate the other side and that is a religious war. Neither side will embrace democracy because Islam doesn't.
In Response

by: Nguyễn from: US
September 19, 2013 1:59 PM
Let Saudi Arabia and Arab nations help rebels in Syria.
US and other white boys stay out. Period.

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