Forum

Assad should be displaced

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

Following talks in London on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of deadly toxins on civilians, Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have agreed to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons by by mid-2014, according to The Daily Mail. The Assad regime agreed to sign the United Nations’ chemical weapons ban treaty and became a legitimate member of the Chemical Weapons Convention this past week.
However, tensions persist as world leaders attempt to bring an end to Syria’s civil war without destabilizing the region, according to The New York Times. By agreeing to the solution that Kerry made as an off-handed comment during the London talks, Russia has been forced into a position of responsibility by international pressures in a high-stakes bid to prevent U.S. military intervention on the continent.

If unsuccessful, Moscow’s legitimacy and soft power hegemony in international politics could be substantially weakened, reports The Guardian.

If successful, however, the agreement could result in stronger ties between Washington and Moscow and may usher Syria into an era of stability. While uncertainty still lingers, Syria’s legal membership in the International Convention on Chemical Weapons means that regardless of the plan’s outcome, Kerry’s accidental diplomacy has brought the Assad regime a step closer to political legitimacy and stability.

Looking into the future, placing Syria under the United Nations’s control and transitioning the government away from Assad should be the primary goal of American foreign policy. While an arms deal may stem the tide of civilian suppression and weaken Syria’s resolve, casualties will continue under the regime as long as Assad fights to maintain power.

Kerry and Obama have discussed the notion that a military strike may occur regardless of deals on chemical arms in order to ensure that Syria does not have the resources required to stifle resistance movements and kill innocent civilians, according to The Guardian. International actors should be wary of Syria’s internal conflicts and move forward with a plan that will stunt the Assad regime, reduce civilian casualties, and allow rebel forces to gain the upper hand.

Both Kerry and Obama should consider moving forward with military intervention and rebel aid even after Assad forfeits his chemical weapons. By stunting the dictatorship’s ability to use weapons of mass destruction and providing guidance to opposing forces, the U.S. would be able to help Syria transition into a democracy while minimizing backlash and regional destabilization.