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article imageFree Syrian Army commander rejects Russian plan

By Ken Hanly     Sep 12, 2013 in Politics
The military chief of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the Western-backed umbrella military group of Syrian rebels, has rejected the Russian plan to put the Syrian government's chemical weapons under international control.
The statement was made in a video on the Internet that I have appended. In the video, General Salim Idriss, the FSA military chief, said: "The international community should not be content with withdrawing chemical weapons which are a criminal instrument but to hold the perpetrator accountable and prosecute him at the International Criminal Court. Removing the criminal tools is one matter and holding the criminal accountable is another."
While that may be true enough, surely keeping the chemical weapons out of the hands of terrorists and the Assad regime is a step forward. The punishment of Assad can always be carried out later, although given the nature of many of the rebels I expect his fate could be more likely like that of Gaddafi. The Russians deny that Assad is even responsible for the attacks so it makes little sense to demand he be blamed let alone punished. Of course this did not stop the French from drafting a resolution for the UN that pins the blame on Assad. This just shows to me that the west is not serious. There will be a brief flurry of diplomatic activity, and then it will be announced that it did not work. This will be blamed on Russian intransigence naturally. The next step will be for Obama to go back to Congress with the new argument that he had tried diplomacy and it failed so force is the only reasonable move. I could be wrong and I hope I am. Anything that might work towards securing Assad's chemical weapons would be positive for everyone but terrorists. Anything that could lead to a political solution would be positive too but there are just not the objective conditions it seems to me to allow either to happen at present. The FSA is not interested in a political solution at present because they see the tide of battle as turning in their favor. The US will never support a political solution either as long as Assad remains in power.
At present, the FSA's priority is to ensure a US attack on Syria to degrade its military might. The Russian initiative is just another disappointing delay. This is the second delay in a row after Obama decided that he would take the issue before the US Congress. The FSA hoped to be marching on Damascus and Latakia by now. Not surprisingly, the FSA not only rejected the Russian proposal but said that the initiative was a "political manoeuvre aimed at buying time" for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Idriss said: "The Free Syrian Army announces its categorical rejection of the Russian initiative that foresees placing chemical weapons under international control," Idriss also said that any measures that were adopted by the UN should be under Chapter VII of the UN Charter that would allow for possible military measures. Russia is not about to allow that for it would be simply another move to get the UN to sanction a military strike against Syria.
General Idriss also appealed to "friendly" countries to provide more aid in the form of weapons and ammunition for the rebels. The negative reaction to the Russian proposal happens just as US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov meet in Geneva to discuss the Russian plan.
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