Syria can still retreat from red lineThe Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has expressed serious concerns about the possibility of the Syrian government using chemical weapons against rebel forces in the country. The international watchdog made the announcement after several reports that Syrian government forces are preparing to resort to such weapons after being driven into a corner by the rebels’ counterattacks in the 21-month civil war. It issued a strongly worded warning last week against a potentially fatal mistake by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, citing mounting concerns over the first-ever use of chemical weapons since the Chemical Weapons Convention took effect in 1997. Six countries, including Syria, have refused to sign the treaty.
The global community united to condemn and warn al-Assad against using such destructive weapons against his own people. U.S. President Barack Obama said the Syrian leader’s attempt to employ chemical weapons would cross “a red line” that could force the United States to intervene in the country’s civil war.
The death toll of this has already exceeded 40,000 since al-Assad responded violently to a rebel insurgence in March of last year. The al-Assad regime would be committing an outrageous crime against humanity if it dares to uses chemical bombs and weapons, thus jeopardizing innocent civilians both on its territory and in neighboring countries.
The Chemical Weapons Convention, which was signed in Paris and New York in January 1993, strictly bans the production, stockpiling and use of all kinds of chemical weapons. A total of 188 countries are subject to the arms-control treaty and surveillance by the watchdog agency. Syria, North Korea, Egypt, Angola, South Sudan and Somalia are not bound by the agreement. As a result, its exact status in terms of chemical weapons development and stockpiling remains shrouded in mystery.
Intelligence experts suspect the regime now holds 1,000 tons of lethal gas and the nerve agent sarin. While not denying this, the Damascus regime said in a statement that it would never employ such weapons against its own people. However, in order to convince the world of its sincerity, it should immediately join the treaty.
Under the reign of Saddam Hussein, Iraq used chemical weapons in 1988 against Iranian and Kurdish civilians during the Iran-Iraq war, killing about 5,000 people and injuring tens of thousands more. Hussein was executed for having massacred so many innocent civilians in his country, and Syria should take note of the fate that befell the Iraqi leader as the use of chemical or biological weapons would surely signal the end of its rule.