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article imageOp-Ed: Assad's consistent ambiguity on Syria's chemical weapons

By Paul Iddon     Oct 14, 2013 in Politics
On one hand the Syrian President dismisses and trivializes any real significance regarding the surrender of his chemical weapons. On the other he describes it as a serious blow to morale and Syria's regional standing. Is he not contradicting himself?
Of course not, and let me illustrate why not.
Technical and political significance are two separate things. Mr. Assad has even reassured his cohorts and supporters that Syria's missiles are enough to terrorize Israelis if his regime has a need to do just that. But where 'face' is concerned the Syrian dictator has lost a substantial amount. He did partial admitted this to be the case when he said, at a recent gathering at his palace, that the surrender was a blow to both his regimes morale and its standing inside Syria and across the region. Particularly where its longtime arch enemy Israel is concerned.
However Mr. Assad also readily repudiates and dismisses the significance of these chemical weapons. He even if you recall recently gloated, upon the transpiration of the Russian-brokered agreement which staved off a U.S military strike on his country, that the chemical weapons were actually a burden on Syria going as far to say that, “Disposing of them would cost a lot of money and would take years, and poses environmental risks and challenges.” In accordance to that belief he said it would therefore be more feasible and beneficiary to Syria to, “Let them [the UN] come and take them [our chemicals].”
But now he is claiming that they had at least a symbolic power over Israel. The loss of such power he attributes as the main cause for the fall in morale he referred to. After claiming that his regime would only use chemical weapons against Israel if Israel used nuclear weapons in a future conflict first Assad claimed that the existence of such weapons in his hands saw the possibility that “Israel would distribute gas masks to its citizens when there was a rise in tension in the region.”
The fear that would come with such a rise in tensions in Israel has now been significantly as the dismantlement of Syria's chemical arsenal is set to commence.
Furthermore it's been argued that as far back as 2003 the Syrian regime was willing to use its chemical arsenal as a bargaining chip in hopes that it could one day pioneer regional disarmament of weapons of mass destruction. A political ploy of sorts to bring international attention to Israel's undeclared stockpile of nuclear weapons. If the existence of Syria's chemicals was merely to be used as a bargaining chip is legitimate then Assad is likely dismissing these weapons as useless when it comes to an actual war -- but highly valuable when it comes to diplomatic dealings with the international community. However given the threat of war late last August his regime has agreed to surrender these weapons in order to ensure its survival from any foreign attack by the Americans – which he himself openly says. This is why substantial morale has been lost by his inner clique.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Bashar alAssad, syria chemical weapons, Syria, Israel
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