Syrian WMD draws world reluctantly further into conflict
Nations very concerned that Syrian WMD could fall into terrorist hands.
The international community is paying close attention to the deteriorating situation in Syria and that country's stockpile of chemical weapons. Concern is growing that the regime may deploy the weapons in desperation, and that some of the stockpile may find its way into the hands of terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah.
Foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi promising viewers on state-run TV that Syria will not use WMD against civilians.
Today, news reports revealed the use of fighter planes and bombs against rebels in the city of Aleppo, who have successfully taken control of large parts of the city. The near-indiscriminate use of heavy weapons demonstrates the desperation of the regime. Few people can now reasonably consider the possibility of a future with Assad at the head of the Syrian state.
However, Assad has shown himself to be ruthless and all too willing to kill civilians in his bid to retain power. It makes logical sense that before the end he may show himself willing to deploy chemical weapons against his own people to stave off his inevitable demise.
The regime recently pledged to withhold use of the weapons against Syrian civilians, but has reserved the right to use them against foreign invaders. The reservation is disconcerting because the regime has long maintained that the bulk of people fighting against the Assad are not Syrian nationals but rather terrorists and foreign mercenaries.
Even if Assad never gives the order to use the weapons, or their use is somehow blocked, the breakdown of control over the stockpiles could result in terrorists gaining access to them.
Terrorists could use the weapons in attacks against Israel, or even the United States, a fact which has both countries alarmed.
Even Moscow has warned Assad against using such weapons and of the danger of allowing such weapons to fall into terrorist hands.
All reports suggest that Israel, the US, and Russia are unified in their strong opposition to the use of any weapons of mass destruction in the region. All major parties are watching closely for signs that the weapons might be deployed or transferred out of secure locations.
Israel is perhaps the most gravely concerned nation, since if Hezbollah should obtain the weapons they will surely use them against Israelis. The mere likelihood of such a thing makes Israeli intervention much more likely, a thing that could cause the conflict to spill over borders. However, Russia is also concerned especially given that Russians have been targeted by Islamic militants in the past.
There are also reports that Iranian special forces are operating in Syria and they too could obtain a cache of chemical weapons in the event of Assad's collapse.
Meanwhile, the US is making concerted diplomatic efforts to contain the weapons by communicating with all other countries in the region. If the weapons are used, it could prompt large-scale military intervention by Russia or the western powers in an effort to contain the situation. If weapons fall into the wrong hands, a much wider conflict will almost certainly ensue, even if not immediately.
For now, Assad has the weapons at his disposal, but he has shown no sign that he plans to use them. Either he has taken international warnings to heart, or he believes his regime is stronger than it probably is. Regardless, the situation in Syria grows increasingly grave as Assad and his regime choose violence over peace and continue their failed bid to retain power by use of force. But his demise is no longer in question. The question that remains is, how many innocents will perish with his regime.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Syria, WMD, chemical, biological, invasion, Assad, Russia, terrorists
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