The Syrian Crisis and Chemical Weapons: Wrong way in, which way out?
ISIS Europe just published an occasional paper on the Syrian crisis and Chemical Weapons. The conclusions of this three-page paper are the following:
[…] Before things go too much further, major actors, including the EU have to decide what it is they actually want, and what resources they are prepared to commit to achieving it. The broad options are:
- A political commitment from Syria to destroy the weapons and associated facilities, overseen from time to time by inspectors, but not seriously enforceable.
- Syrian accession to the CWC, with all its inherent delays and complexities. Again, good faith would be needed for this option to be effective.
- Some kind of bespoke regime based on the CWC but with an accelerated timescale, less legal bureaucracy and more intrusive inspection.
- As above but with considerable financial and technical support from major states.
- Substantial international involvement in the collection and destruction of the weapons, with all its attendant security and logistic problems.
- A fully international effort to collect and destroy the weapons under international control. This would be a massive commitment of resources, involving large and long-term deployment of military forces and technical experts, with all the right protective equipment. This is probably impractical. It is, however, the only option that would actually provide anything like the certainty required.
All of these options have major problems, and all of them would take time to achieve. None of them would have any effect on the underlying conflict, which, indeed, risks being forgotten in the rush to declare another problem solved. But having got itself into this situation, by accident as much as anything else, the West has found that, to coin a phrase, there are no easy solutions for an elegant and graceful exit.
You can read the full paper here