The Barzeh chemical weapons facility in Damascus, Syria, demolished by U.S. cruise missiles on 14 April 2018 (image source)
The United States and its allies, Britain and France, launched over 100 missiles at the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad in the early hours of 14 April. This was retaliation for the regime’s use of poison gas in the town of Douma, east of the capital, Damascus, exactly a week earlier, which massacred at least 43 people and wounded 500 more. The military strikes were an important signal and will likely be some deterrent against the future use of chemical weapons in Syria, but ultimately this was another missed opportunity by the West to meaningfully affect the course of the war. Continue reading →
A widely reported, 15,000-word article by Josh Meyer in Politico on Sunday moves us another step closer to finding out the actual terms of President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Though the Obama administration sold the Iran deal on the narrowest possible terms as an arms control agreement, the reality was that this agreement was intended to facilitate a strategic tilt in Iran’s favour—against traditional allies—that left a regional balance requiring less American commitment.
Because the administration wanted the paper agreement, Iran had the leverage to threaten to walk away, and was therefore appeased on multiple fronts ostensibly unrelated to the nuclear issue. Continue reading →
The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced financial sanctions against an individual involved in the “development” of chemical weapons of mass destruction (CWMD) for the Islamic State (IS) on 12 June. Simultaneously, the State Department labelled another individual involved in the development of CWMD for IS as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). These are the first sanctions of their kind. Continue reading →
Aftermath of the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack (source)
The United States’ cruise missile strikes in Syria in the early hours of 7 April devastated the Shayrat airbase from which, U.S. intelligence assesses, the regime of Bashar al-Assad launched the nerve agent attack on Khan Shaykhun on 4 April. The U.S. has now released its fuller assessment of the chemical attack, which includes a record of Assad’s routine use of chemical munitions since 2013. This comes amid ongoing gridlock at the United Nations Security Council, where, during a volatile session yesterday, Russia’s deputy representative, Vladimir Safronkov, accused Britain supporting the Islamic State—before vetoing the proposed resolution to have an international investigation into this latest chemical attack, a fairly strong indication that Moscow knows its client regime in Syria would be found guilty. This is the eighth time Russia has used its veto to shield Assad, though this time it was notable that China abstained, rather than join Russia in a double-veto. Continue reading →