Expert: West Should Ensure Syria Doesn’t Share Chemical Weapons

Sometimes sharing is a really bad thing—especially when it involves terrorists and weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). The destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons has begun successfully so far, but one expert warned the West needs to watch and make sure Syria doesn’t transport its chemical weapons to terrorists in Lebanon or allies in Iraq.

Syrian expert Dr. Jonathan Spyer told The Mideast Update that one newspaper, al-Mustaqbal, has already claimed Syria has sent chemical weapon production equipment to Iraq. But Dr. Spyer said that he has spoken with sources in counter-proliferation that dismiss those allegations, but still have a warning.

Dr. Spyer said the sources stressed that Syria shipping chemical weapons to their allies is “not inconceivable in the future, and it will be vital for the US and the West to observe the situation carefully for any such attempt by [Syrian President Bashar] Assad.”

Meanwhile, the initial stage of researching and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons has gone well. The group overseeing the effort, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a press release that Syrian officials began on October 6 the process of destroying their chemical weapons.

The goal is to render “unusable” all production facilities and related equipment by November 1. “These developments present a constructive beginning for what will nonetheless be a long and difficult process,” OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü said in the press release.

This follows disclosure by Syrian officials of their chemical weapons program and their official joining of the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty.

Dr. Spyer, a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center at IDC-Herziliya in Israel, said that Syria appeared to have been cooperating as of early October.

He said it “makes sense” for Syria to comply for now, since the chemical weapons agreement actually could help Assad stay in power. Dr. Spyer said the deal “turns the Assad regime into an essential partner of the West for as long as it takes to destroy the chemical weapons, and that can take quite a while—certainly more than a year.”

Still, two of Syria and Iran’s closest allies—Iraq and Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon—share a border with Syria. In light of that, Dr. Spyer said, “The main potential problem is that Assad may seek to transport elements of his chemical arsenal out of the country.”

And sharing weapons that dangerous with a chaotic state such as Iraq or terrorists in Lebanon would be very, very bad for you.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, October 15, 2013)

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