Could U.S. - Russia Agreement on Assad's Chemical Weapons Lead to Negotiations to End Syria's Civil War?

Real Audio  RealAudio MP3  MP3

Posted Sept. 18, 2013

Interview with Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies, conducted by Scott Harris

syria

The first independent investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war was released by the United Nations on Sept. 16. While the report did not issue a finding on which side was responsible for the use of chemical weapons, it did conclude that surface-to-surface rockets filled with the deadly nerve agent sarin were likely launched from positions controlled by the Syrian government and killed hundreds of civilians in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on Aug. 21. However, casting doubt on any solid conclusion about who used chemical weapons, the U.N. report noted that while their investigative team was at the Ghouta attack site under the control of rebels, “Individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions, indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.”

Responding to a Kremlin initiative, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov concluded an agreement to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control. Under the timeline, chemical weapons-related production facilities and equipment will be destroyed by this November, and all chemical weapons material are to be eradicated by mid-2014.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, expressed hope that the U.S.-Russian agreement on controlling and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons could spur a new diplomatic effort to negotiate an end to Syria’s bloody 2½- yearlong civil war that has killed more than 100,000 and displaced millions refugees. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies, who assesses the U.N. report on the use of chemical weapons in Syria and how the U.S.-Russian agreement on destroying Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons could lead to peace talks on ending Syria’s civil war.

Learn more about the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies at IPS-DC.org/mideast.

Related Links: