Turkey has expressed a cautious optimism, laced with scepticism after the United States and Russia agreed on a plan to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons by the middle of 2014.
“Turkey welcomes, as a matter of principle, the dismantling of all weapons of mass destruction in the world and in our region, the chemical weapons in particular. Therefore, the agreement reached today in Geneva between the United States and the Russian Federation regarding the chemical weapons possessed by the Syrian regime was welcomed as a positive step and assessed carefully,” a written statement from the Foreign Ministry said on 14th September.
Following three days of talks in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov demanded that President Assad accounts for his secret stockpile within a week and let international inspectors eliminate all the weapons by the middle of next year.
The Turkish government expressed its concerned that the disarmament process would end up being a means by which Syria bought more time in which to launch further attacks on its citizen.
“This agreement must not be exploited by the Syrian regime and must not turn into a process by which the regime would gain time to carry out new massacres against its people. The announced timeframe is lengthy and susceptible to the exploitation of the regime. The sanctions that will be imposed if the regime does not rapidly and strictly fulfil its obligations and the agreement comes to naught should be spelt out clearly from the start,” it said.
“This agreement should not be perceived as the final solution to the Syrian crisis, and the massacres committed by the regime without resorting to chemical weapons must absolutely be prevented,” the statement said. “The ultimate goal in Syria must be to end the crimes against humanity that have been perpetrated in this country by the regime over nearly three years, to fulfil the legitimate demands of the population and to enable the people of Syria to establish a legitimate administration.”
This latest agreement begs questions such as how would it be possible to implement major disarmament in the middle of Syria’s civil war.
Further, at what point in the process will the U.S. decide on a military strike against Syria if it believes that the Assad regime is failing to keep its part in the agreement?