Syrian semantics: is killing with chemical weapons more deadly than incendiary bombs or napalm?

Author:Ismail, Nehad
Position:Current Affairs/SYRIA

THE RUSSIAN DRAFTED SECURITY COUNCIL Resolution is a weak compromise to protect Bashar Assad.

Security Council Resolution number 2118 is a victory for Russia, a defeat for the United States and a green light for Bashar Assad to kill more Syrians with conventional weapons. Military experts believe that modern conventional weapons kill with greater precision and lethality.

On 27 September the Security Council passed resolution number 2118, aimed at forcing the Syrian regime to give up its chemical weapons, used at least once in Syria's civil war with appalling loss of life among civilians. Thanks to Russia and China the resolution is a watered-down weak compromise that will not go far in scaring Bashar Assad.

The resolution does not automatically threaten the use of force if Syria fails to comply. If the use of force becomes necessary, a second UN Security Council Resolution must be issued which will require the approval of Russia and China. Most observers believe that Russia will again use the veto to protect its client in Damascus. The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, said he was now hoping to convene a peace conference in Geneva by mid-November.

Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, was at pains to point out that enforcement measures were not automatic; any punitive action, he stressed, would require a second resolution. Mr Lavrov failed to add that Russia would block such a resolution although that is almost certainly the case. At Russia's behest, the Security Council resolution also failed to level the blame for the killing of up to 1,400 civilians with poison gas in a suburb of Damascus on 21 August at the Assad regime.

Embarking on a diplomatic track in Syria that leaves Bashar Assad's regime in power is a disaster for the region, a betrayal of the Syrian people and a defeat for the West. This is exactly the scenario Assad was looking for. He has been rewarded for gassing his own people and has escaped punishment.

Licence to Kill

The Resolution calls for the elimination of the chemical stockpile by mid-2014. Can we conclude from this deadline that Assad has the green light to continue to kill many more thousands of Syrians until Mid-2014 by the use of the conventional weapons that, so far, have massacred more than 120,000 Syrians? The regime must feel confident and very safe in the knowledge that Russia, China, Iran and Hizbullah are all so ready to leap to its defence.

Whilst the US and the EU quibble over...

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