The diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Syria will be messy, halting, and fragile. It may even fail. The momentum have shifted with remarkable speed yesterday, but details slowed the process down considerably today – a Security Council resolution from France was swiftly rejected by Russia, which is also now calling on the United States to take the threat of military force off the table altogether as a precondition to further talks.
Fits and starts like these will continue until the negotiations produce a solution or collapse. But in the meantime, this is what progress looks like.
Syria is ready to declare its chemical weapons arsenal and adhere to the chemical weapons convention, the country’s foreign minister said Tuesday, amid a flurry of diplomatic maneuverings around the world.
Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said Damascus supports the Russian initiative for Syria to hand over chemical weapons. “I am authorized to confirm our support for the Russian initiative regarding chemical weapons in Syria in compliance with the regime of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons,” Moualem said.
Moualem added that Syria is prepared to place chemical weapons locations in the hands of representatives of Russia, “other countries,” and the United Nations, though it’s not yet clear which countries might be included in this “other” category.
I hope we don’t brush past this too quickly, because these developments were largely unimaginable very recently. Not only has Syria ignored calls for years to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, but Syrian officials were still denying as recently as yesterday morning that the country’s chemical weapons even exist.
Today, Syria is suddenly prepared to acknowledge these weapons for the first time and willing to adhere to the global system on chemical weapons.
Maybe the diplomatic solution will take hold, maybe not. But if literally nothing else happens in the diplomatic process, we’re already witnessing progress.