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Weeks of negotiations between the US and Russia over the fate of Syria and it’s chemical weapons are finally coming to a head as the United Nations Security Council met on Thursday night to discuss a final decision on President Bashar al-Assad.
Mark Lyall Grant, the UK Ambassador to the UN said that the Security Council is expected to vote on Friday night to determine the ultimate resolution.
The document on which they will vote leaves many questions about when or to whom al-Assad must hand over his stockpile of nerve gas and other chemical weapons, estimated at around 1,000 tonnes. Nor does it specify how the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons could determine whether or not Assad has actually handed over his entire arsenal, or how they could compel Syria should it decide not to honour the agreement.
Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador to the UN, said that the US and Russia had submitted a draft plan for the disarmament of Syria that both sides had agreed to. The council of chemical weapons body will then finalise the plan to provide a detailed method to locate, secure, remove, and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons.
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The US and Europe had wanted the document to authorise automatic use of force should Syria fail to deliver its chemical weapons, but Russia used its power to remove this demand and instead allowed the authorization of unspecified punitive action only.
The UN resolution will also call for punitive action against anyone who uses chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, government or rebel forces. The US, France, and the UK wanted to hold Assad responsible for the gas attacks, but Russia argued that the rebels had also used chemical agents, and should be bound by the same rules.
Even if this resolution manages to confiscate all of his chemical weapons from Assad within the scheduled timetable, it would not tip the balance of power away from Assad and his forces, pretty much guaranteeing that he remains in power.
A US official told Bloomberg that Assad had actually gotten a very good deal here. The relinquishment of his chemical weapons will not affect his grip on the rebellion, and yet it will prevent the US from taking direct military action, which would have seriously damaged his chances of success in the war.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com