September 16, 2013


Obama invites Rouhani to join great game (M K Bhadrakumar, 9/16/13, Asia Times)

He has forced the Syrian regime out of its denial mode to acknowledge for the first time its chemical weapons stockpiles and to join the international convention banning the use of such weapons and got the Russians who are the Syrian regime's "primary sponsors" to volunteer they'd "push Syria to get all of their chemical weapons out of the country". 

Obama spoke just before the deal was formally struck in Geneva on Saturday, but he fully factored in that the Syrian issue is about to come under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and an Iraq-like framework is being put in place through a UN Security Council resolution that:

contains steps to ensure verification and effective implementation of the deal;
defines the UN's role in eliminating Syria's chemical weapons;
provides for Security Council review of the implementation on a regular basis;
also provides for Security Council imposing "measures" under Chapter VII in the event of non-compliance by Syria. 

The Geneva deal also harmonized US and Russian estimation of the amount and type of Syria's chemical weapons and expects the Syrians to:
turn in within a week their inventory list within a week, including the location and form of storage;
provide "unfettered access" to the UN and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) personnel to "inspect any and all sites" in Syria who will work on the control, removal and destruction of the stockpiles; 

Alongside, Obama maintained that a foundation is also being laid for an international process to begin over a political transition in Syria. 

The expectation is predicated on the defanging of the Syrian regime via the Geneva deal and the incremental shift that would follow once Russia realizes that continued support of President Bashar al-Assad is unsustainable in the world opinion. 

Obama didn't speak of regime change as such, but he thinks it is becoming apparent that Assad has lost legitimacy and as long as he remains in power there is going to be "some sort of conflict there" - which in turn would compel Russia to look at a "post-Assad" scenario for Syria.  [...]

The stunning part of the ABC interview was Obama's tacit acknowledgement that the templates beneath the great US-Iran standoff have finally begun to move. 

Interestingly, on Saturday, the influential chairman of the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy commission, Alaeddin Broujerdi, suggested that the next round of the P5+1 (the US, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany) talks might be held in Tehran. If that were to happen, a visit by a top US diplomat to Tehran becomes necessary and it would be the first since the US broke off diplomatic relations with Iran on April 7, 1980. 

Again, Tehran also announced on Sunday that Rouhani has "agreed to meet" British Foreign Secretary William Hague "at London's request" on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York later this month. 

In sum, traction can develop in the incipient US-Iranian engagement much sooner than one may imagine. 

Posted by at September 16, 2013 3:38 PM

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