September 8, 2012

The emergence of a red line in Syria conflict

Viimase nelja aasta jooksul on Vene ajakirjanduses ilmunud kaks tähelepanuväärset, tugevalt püssirohu järele lõhnavat artiklit. Neist esimene ilmus 2008. aasta aprillis ning ennustas ette Vene-Georgia sõda. Teine aga selle aasta juunis, teatades president Putini korraldusest alustada ettevalmistusi sõjalisteks operatsioonideks väljaspool Vene Föderatsiooni riigipiire.
Mõlemal kirjutisel on rida sarnasusi, kuid ka mõned erinevused.

Viimase nelja aasta jooksul on Vene ajakirjanduses ilmunud kaks tähelepanuväärset, tugevalt püssirohu järele lõhnavat artiklit. Neist esimene ilmus 2008. aasta aprillis ning ennustas ette Vene-Georgia sõda. Teine aga selle aasta juunis, teatades president Putini korraldusest alustada ettevalmistusi sõjalisteks operatsioonideks väljaspool Vene Föderatsiooni riigipiire.
Mõlemal kirjutisel on rida sarnasusi, kuid ka mõned erinevused.

On July 23, Syria admitted to possessing a stockpile of chemical weapons which it claims are reserved for defence against foreign forces. Who these foreign forces are is a matter of speculation as Assad regime regularly blames anti-government forces for being foreign-backed. Indeed, a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have publicly admitted to arming anti-government rebels while a number of Western countries are providing non-combat equipment and intelligence support. Three Western countries (US, UK, France) have by now said that the statements given by Syrian officials that chemical weapons could be used in case of foreign interference in Syria is a red line the governments in Damascus is not allowed to cross with impunity, hinting on possible military intervention. Meanwhile, Syrian activists posted a video on YouTube that allegedly showed chemical weapons being used on civilian areas in Homs, possibly hoping to provoke an international reaction. Estimates on a number of chemical weapons production and storage facilities vary from five to fifty. There appears to be a consensus on chemical weapons facilities being located at Al Safir (Scud missile base), Cerin, Hama, Homs, Latakia and in Palmyra. Syria has reportedly been manufacturing Sarin, Tabun, VX, and mustard gas types of chemical weapons while not being a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 aided not only by Russia, but also Indian firms.

Concerns over the control of chemical weapons in Syria are acute, growing and manifold. Besides such weapons being used against to anti-government “foreign” forces, an open question remains, who will control such weapons after the predicted regime collapse. A potential scenario whereby such weapons could end up at the hands of one or more extremist groups operating in the region amounts to one of the biggest security challenges in the whole Middle East with a possibility of global implications.

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