Elimination of Syrian chemical weapons



Opposition forces after returning from the battlefield Courtesy of CNN

The conflict in Syria has become one of the most notable international crises of the century. Within the last two years, this Middle Eastern country has experienced a period of civil unrest and conflict. 100,000 people are dead and millions are displaced,  according to an official United Nations report.
The Arab Spring, a series of civil conflicts in Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, planted the seed for equality and justice in the Syrian people making them realize they needed to fight for their basic human rights that were being denied.Under the leadership of Bashar Al-Assad, the Syrian government has neglected to pay attention to the rights and needs of its citizens  resulting in a struggle for freedom. 

Opposition forces after returning from the battlefield Courtesy of CNN
Opposition forces after returning from the battlefield Courtesy of CNN

“The concern with the rebels is that human rights may not be restored, at least to all people, under their rule,” Convent of the Sacred Heart Upper School Theology Teacher Mrs. Kerry Bader said.
In June 2011, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) announced its formation. It is an opposition army consisting of militia soldiers who have left the Syrian Army, as well as volunteers.  Although the FSA has coordinated with the Syrian National Council and with the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition forces,  their combined efforts in achieving a stable government have not succeeded. Instead of a centralized leadership, there are several different leaders with opposing views. As a consequence, opposition groups that are frustrated with their respective leaders have left and joined an affiliate of the terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda. 
“I think that what is happening in Syria is very complicated.  We see the real damage done to the Syrian people by Assad, and yet, Christians in Syria feel more comfortable with Assad as the rebels have persecuted Christians,”  Mrs. Bader said.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are 2,162, 376 persons of concern, 2,024,129 being registered as refugeees, and 138,247 awaiting their registration. Refugees have spread out to countries including Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and some to Egypt. The majority of refugees that registered with the UNHCR began in January 2013.  Refugee camps have been set up, costing host countries billions of dollars, which adds a strain to government officials of refugee-populated countries.
The conflict took a turn for the worse  in August 2013, when footage of  possible attacks in Damascus by chemical weapons was released. Activists, such as Amnesty International, and foreign governments reported that hundreds were killed. France, the United Kingdom and the United States immediately called for an investigation and possible  retaliation.
However, the quick course of action soon lapsed when the UK Parliament decided to oppose the action to invade Syria.  The US and Russia began to discuss strategies in September 2013.  In a report from The Guardian September 9, Secretary of State John Kerry said that military action would not take place if the entire stockpile of chemical weapons was placed under international control. Consequentially, President Barack Obama called off military action September 10. 

The Unites States-Russia agreement urges the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to approve a destruction of Syria’s chemical force. The two countries have urged that the weapons must be eliminated before the first half of 2014. 
As of September 28, the binding resolution to destroy all chemical weapons passed unanimously by a 15 member Security Council. Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of Russia, believes that this resolution is crucial as it sets the stage for possible elimination of all chemical weapons in the Middle East, according to The New York Times in an article titled “Swift movement is seen on Syria after UN action,” published Friday, September 27. Lavrov also believes that not only should the government of Syria comply to this resolution, but opposition forces must adhere to it as well.
As of October 1, destruction of chemical weapons was initiated. The US and other members of the UN have given Syria nine months to destroy their supply. In an October 7 press conference in Bali, Indonesia, Mr. Kerry addressed Syria’s status.
“They are on the ground now. They are already proceeding to the destruction of chemical weapons. That actually began yesterday. The process has begun in record time, and we are appreciative for the Russian cooperation, as well as the Syrian compliance to this date,” Mr. Kerry said.
– Mo Narasimhan, Staff Writer