In the end it may be Vladimir Putin who saved Barack Obama from the embarrassment of having his Syrian war rejected by Congress. In response to a reporters question Secretary of State Kerry seemed to imply that if Assad gave up his chemical weapons it would forestall Obama’s war.
“He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow a full and total accounting,” Kerry told reporters during a press conference in London with his British counterpart.
The State Department later walked Kerry’s statement back, calling it an off-hand “rhetorical argument.”
“His point was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons. Otherwise, he would have done so long ago. That’s why the world faces this moment,” Kerry’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.
But it was too late –the cat was out of the bag. Almost immediately Russia followed up with
“We are calling on the Syrian authorities not only agree on putting chemical weapons storages under international control, but also for its further destruction and then joining the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,”Lavrov said. “We have passed our offer to [Syrian Foreign Minister] Walid al-Muallem and hope to receive a fast and positive answer,” he added.
And Syria was quick to respond with:
Syria “welcomes” Russia’s proposal for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to put its chemical weapons under international control, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told reporters in Moscow on Monday.
While this was not an agreement it was certainly positive, and the fact that the discussion is taking place between Syria and Russia makes the possibility of an agreement even more likely. But no agreement has happened yet. I cannot however, believe that Obama would be crazy enough to turn down a deal like this if it is offered. It gives him the out to avoid the war that only those in his administration want.
It would be ironic, if it was Vladimir Putin, a man who Obama has had difficult relations with was the guy who got Obama out of this self-created jam.