Foreign Policy Blogs

Syrian WMDs: Libya Redux?


With revolts against the al-Assad government raging on, the U.S. and Israeli governments are focused on what might happen to Syria’s suspected cache of mustard gas, VX, Sarin, and long-range missiles. The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that both countries are keeping a close eye on the status of the nasty stuff for fear that terrorist and militant groups operating across North Africa and the Middle East – Hezbollah, Hamas? – could take advantage of the chaos and snatch them from storage. They are looking at a Libya scenario coming to pass if the situation deteriorates and Assad slinks away in the process.

My favorite bit is where WSJ reporter Jay Solomon says that “U.S. and Israeli officials won’t disclose how they are keeping tabs on Syrian weaponry.” Really Jay? One word: Intel.

While the Assad government continues to deny that 1) it has any chemical weapons, and 2) it plays a central role in smuggling weapons to said militant groups and terrorist organizations, the folks over at Langley know better and have said so. Syria reportedly has “at least five sites where it produces chemical weapons agents” but which are allegedly spread far and wide around the country, some of which are located at military facilities.

As an aside, I have always been somewhat fascinated with Assad. He seems so un-dictator like. No creepy idiosyncrasies, Ukrainian nurses, bad Jheri curl or giant platform shoes. The guy didn’t really want to go into the family biz, but was forced to do so when his older brother, the heir apparent, was killed in a car accident. Assad was on track to be an eye doctor, having studied ophthalmology in London, and is fluent in English and conversational French. But, he has clearly proven to be a quick study in repression, human rights abuses and anti-Israeli rhetoric and acts.

 

Author

Jodi Lieberman
Jodi Lieberman

Jodi Lieberman is a veteran of the arms control, nonproliferation, nuclear terrorism and nuclear safety trenches, having worked at the Departments of State, Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She has also served in an advisory capacity and as professional staff for several members of Congress in both the House and Senate as well as the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Jodi currently spends her time advocating for science issues and funding as the Senior Government Affairs Specialist at the American Physical Society. The views expressed in her posts are her views based on her professional experience but in way should be construed to represent those of her employer.

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