Cennamology Chief Editor
One of the most surprising stories in the news last week was the Syrian government's announcement that they would be getting rid of their chemical weapons - sending the last of its known stocks to the port of Latakia where they were then loaded aboard a Danish ship.
However, despite getting rid of its last known supply of chemical weapons, the question remains as to what will happen to them and also as to where they are being taken.
As chemical weapons, less than a year ago, were being used by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against rebels and civilians during the civil war, it was rather surprising that the regime announced rather suddenly that it would getting rid of them permanently.
One concern is that the Syrian government, despite no longer possessing the weapons, may still have the technologies to build the weapons, and also may have secret and hidden weapons stocks. Despite the accomplishment of the international agreement that led to this action, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons cannot say with certainty that Syria no longer possesses any nuclear weapons. So that is one thing to worry about, especially since Assad is a very insane and power-hungry leader. Assad has all the character traits that would be indicative of someone hiding undeclared stockpiles, and the international community would not be surprised if he is hiding some more weapons.
But as for the stocks that the international community knows about, some are being taken to Finland to be destroyed while others will be destroyed at sea facilities in the United States, Britain, and Germany on an American ship, according to the New York Times.
Also, even though the chemical weapons (at least the stocks we know of) have been eliminated, the Syrian civil war is not over - a second thing to still certainly be worried about. The war that has displaced millions of people and has killed over 160,000 still rages on. The war has spread into Iraq with the help of a Sunni militant group, and it is possible that the conflict may spread into even more Middle Eastern countries.
According to the New York Times, the agreement has a loophole that Assad might use to still massacre his own people. The agreement does not ban the use of chlorine gas as a weapon, which is a common industrial chemical. However, its use as a weapon would still violate the Chemical Weapons Convention Treaty, although one cannot seriously argue that Assad cares much about international treaties.
Therefore, even though Assad has gotten rid of his chemical weapons, he still has the means necessary to continue the civil war by using violent tactics against the Syrian rebels. President Obama knows this, which is why he called for the aid to be appropriated to the rebels. The agreement may have stopped Assad from using his chemical weapons, but it is not going to stop him from continuing to commit gross human rights violations and killing his fellow Syrians, and as humanitarians we should definitely still be worried about the situation in Syria.
However, even though the world should still be worried about Syria, the importance of the deal cannot be understated. A brutal dictator now no longer has access to chemical weapons. Whether or not he was not hiding any up his sleeve is yet to be seen, but for now the known stockpiles are out of his hands. But this is still no time to celebrate, as the Syrian civil war still continues.
One last thing that must be stated: The $500 million in aid, as long as it is assured that it does not fall into the hands of our enemies, is the only form of U.S. intervention that I could see supporting. Although I am still skeptical about monetary intervention because it has seemed that in recent decades, whenever America has intervened abroad, the situation got worse instead of better.
A recent Reuters poll found that over 90 percent of Americans oppose military intervention in Syria. No matter what direction the civil war takes, America must always be committed to ensuring that the world knows that armed intervention is completely off the table. If we do not make sure that the world knows that, we could get ourselves into a situation that we will not be able to easily get ourselves out of.