Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Abandoning Chemical Weapons

There has been a lot of talk amongst Syrians, both pro-regime and against it, about Assad's sudden decision to "abandon" chemical weapons. Firstly this regime does nothing unless it has to, so all these rumours about Assad "pulling the rug" from the feet of America, or even Israel, is nonsense. Assad did so because for a very short period of time he was absolutely terrified that his forces will be bombed by the United States. That may or may not happen now, but I am firmly convinced that this is the only thing that frightens him.

As for the chemical weapons, some Syrians are feeling upset about Assad giving up Syria's "strategic" capability. They seem to think that even with Assad removed then chemical weapons must remain a deterrent. At best, they argue that Assad has no right to decide unilaterally in this regards, but for me this whole discussion is absurd. Nuclear, biological and chemical weapons are horrible weapons because their effects are so unpredictable and long lasting, and there is a reason why they are considered a red line for the international community.

The fundamental point we as Syrians should be discussing is not about whether or not Assad has a "right" to give up these weapons. The point we should be discussing is by what "right" did his father or any Syrian government introduce these weapons into Syria. Furthermore, the idea that a Syrian government, any Syrian government, or the Syrian army can ever be trusted with weapons like this again is something that the Syrian people need to consider very carefully. The fact is we have no government or army worthy of the name and it is unlikely that we will have anything like that in the near future. Before we worry about deterring our "enemies" with chemical weapons, we need to have a debate about how to deter our own governments from killing Syrians - and the first step is to make sure that power is never left concentrated and unchecked in the hands of the few.

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