Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fears Grow over Fate of Syria’s Chemical Weapons

by Michel Abu Najm

Paris, Asharq Al-Awsat—An Arab government source who met with Asharq Al-Awsat ["The Middle East": a News source in Arabic] warned of “the civil war in Syria transforming into an ethnic and sectarian war” if the crisis continues as it is. He warned that such an emerging situation would lead to “the disintegration of the Syrian state, pushing it past the point of no return”, which means, according to his explanation, that “it would be impossible to restore the institutions that unite the people and prevent their fragmentation into different groups and communities.”

The government source believes that the current path of the Syrian crisis “brings us closer every day to the spark that will ignite all ethnic and sectarian sensitivities in Syria, bringing to the surface all the problems that have been suppressed over the past fifty years, and pushing the entire region towards disaster.”

The source confirmed that “all the countries of the region fear being intimidated by extremist elements”, pointing out that the regime is currently gambling on four factors it believes to be working in its favor. These are: “The absence of a viable alternative capable of holding Syria together in the event of the regime falling or a large gap emerging, the coherence of the regime’s military machine, even today, the lack of an international consensus, with the stances of key countries at odds with each other, and finally the exploitation of terrorism and intimidation.”

The source also touched upon to the subject of chemical weapons, which the Syrian regime possesses a large quantity of, raising sizeable regional and international fears. According to the source, the fate of these weapons could lead to four “grave” scenarios, which are as follows: The regime deliberately using the weapons against its own people, the regime using them against neighboring countries, the weapons falling into the “wrong hands”, in other words into the hands of extremist jihadists, or finally the weapons falling into the hands of those who do not have experience in dealing with them.

However, the source revealed that he has begun identify signs suggesting that the warring parties are beginning to understand “there is no solution possible in Syria other than a political one”. He stressed that these signs must be encouraged as “there is no alternative other than disaster.”

Michel Abu Najm


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