On August 25, 2016 Jonathan Tobin wrote in Commentary Magazine “The news about Assad’s use of chemical weapons after the U.S. and Russia had allegedly solved that problem only deepens American complicity in the unfolding tragedy. President Obama can’t claim he wasn’t warned that this was exactly what would happen. The blood of the victims in the chemical attacks and at Aleppo is now on his hands as well as those of Assad and Putin.”
A new United Nations report published yesterday said that the Syrians have again used chemical weapons against their own people twice since the Russians were supposed to have solved President Obama’s embarrassing problem. As part of the deal, Assad had signed a treaty banning the use of chemical weapons and had supposedly surrendered his stockpile after the use of his forces used sarin in an attack on a Damascus suburb that killed hundreds. Skeptics wondered whether the Russians had really collected all of the chemicals but the administration was too invested in a policy that not only gave the president a pass for his humiliating red line retreat but also seemed to justify his decision to stay out of the Syrian conflict to look too closely at what had actually happened. But the critics were right.
Whatever it was that the Syrians handed over to the Russians to be destroyed, they have clearly kept some of their chemical weapons and have shown a willingness to use them against Syrian citizens. It’s just as clear that Syria’s Russian allies are probably aware of this but are not only unprepared to pressure Damascus on the issue but also will defend Assad against any attempts by the West to use the United Nations Security Council to hold him accountable.
The bargain that Obama struck with Vladimir Putin to bail him out of his Syria predicament has turned out to be a deal with the devil in more ways than one. It’s not just that the Russians and Syrians have scammed the U.S. It’s that Washington’s willingness to grasp any excuse to justify avoiding making good on Obama’s threats. The chemical pact was the leverage Moscow needed to get U.S. acquiescence to its military intervention in the Syrian civil war. Though the president has continued his calls for Assad’s ouster, the Russian military contingent along with Iranian and Hezbollah forces have turned the tide in the fighting and ensured that the shaky government led by the butcher of Damascus is in no danger of being overthrown.
While the Americans have looked on in horror as the war escalated with hundreds of thousands dead and millions made refugees, the administration has justified being the silent partner in this Russian/Iranian gambit because it thought this guaranteed that those nations would cooperate in the war against ISIS. But Assad’s allies have always been more interested in fighting and slaughtering non-ISIS rebels than in pursuing the conflict against the Islamic State. While the U.S. has protested the situation in Aleppo where Assad and the Russians are carrying out a siege that may lead to more starvation and mass killings, the unfortunate truth is that the perpetrators of these atrocities believe they have the acquiescence of the Americans.
The news about Assad’s use of chemical weapons after the U.S. and Russia had allegedly solved that problem only deepens American complicity in the unfolding tragedy. President Obama can’t claim he wasn’t warned that this was exactly what would happen. The blood of the victims in the chemical attacks and at Aleppo is now on his hands as well as those of Assad and Putin.”
see also https://www.commentarymagazine.com/foreign-policy/middle-east/syria/obama-s-red-line-to-aleppo-chemical-weapons/