September 14, 2013
Russia has proposed a four-stage plan to avert a US attack on Syria. The key component of plan is placing Damascus’ chemical weapons under international control. The original initiative was presented to President Obama in Stockholm by Nordic leaders before G-20 in St Petersburg. Russia’s proposal was announced on August 9th, 2013, hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry said Syria could avoid a US strike by surrendering all his chemical weapons within a week, but immediately made clear he was not making a serious offer. However Russia took the case seriously and made a workable, clear and concrete plan.
The hastily organized talks started in Geneva on August 12th, 2013. The top Russian diplomat Lavrov and US counterpart John Kerry have both team of experts on chemical weapons with them to the talks. After two days in Geneva the discussions are described to been constructive.
- The first stage of the Russian plan provides that the Syrian government in Damascus becomes a member of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is located in The Hague, Netherlands, and is an alleged intergovernmental organization.
- The second step of this four-stage plan by Russia about the chemical stockpiles in Syria provides that the Syrian governance of President Bashar al-Assad has to declare the location of the chemical arsenals (chemical weapons stockpiles) and to say where the chemicals are produced on Syrian soil.
- The third step of the Russian plan on Syria’s chemical weapons provides that the inspectors of the alleged intergovernmental Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are allowed to enter Syria and are able, without preconditions, to investigate and check the locations of the chemical weapons arsenals and the production centres for the chemicals.
- The final step of the Russian four-stage plan provides that all sides have then to decide, in a cooperation with the inspectors of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), how to destroy the chemical weapons substances and arsenals from Syria.
With Russia’s plan there is opening a window of opportunity for peaceful solution to Syrian war, however the final deal will not be the easy one and lot of challenges are waiting ahead. From my perspective at least following questions will be crucial ones:
- While speaking about chemical weapons stockpiles the question is only those which are under control of al-Assad’s regime but so far there is no mention about chemical arsenals which are in the possession of rebels. Different rebel groups have chemical weapons looted from Libyan, Georgian or Syrian stockpiles as well smuggled raw materials and factories, labs and warehouses for production. So far this kind of rebel CW stockpiles have been discovered from Jobar, Khan al-Assal and Damascus regions. (More:Whodunnit in Syria)
- The time-axis is demanding. While the first step – Damascus becomes a member of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) – took only days implementation of the final step -destroying the chemical weapons – can take decades. Today only US and Russia have developed technology forthis task and it might be wise to have a joint operation for this destroying, it is also possible to build facilities in Syria for disposal of Cws. The extra challenge in Syria is that the country is a war zone. While it is estimated that al-Assad’s regime has CW stockpiles in some 50 locations the logistics and security are extreamely challenging in this kind of circumstances. It is estimated that to secure CW locations it is needed minimum 70,000 well trained soldiers.
- If the deal between international community and al-Assad regime about CW question will be made it is possible that the war between al-Assad regime and rebel groups as well between rebel groups however will intensify in short-term with conventional weapons.That’s way in my opinion a fifth aspect should be included in action plan namely get all or most part of local stakeholders, without preconditions, in negotiation table for planning the future Syrian state.
(More eg: Whodunnit in Syria and
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