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Syria in One Week: Part 3 of 3 - Assad Complies, So What Happens Now?

Today marks the one week anniversary of the United Nation's U.S.-Russia resolution on Syria's chemical weapons program. A resolution that demanded Syria hand over an exhaustive list of its chemical weapons stockpile within one week. Yet, while the latest from President Assad is that his nation will comply with the resolution, and begin the year long process of dismantling his nation's chemical weapons program; just as I predicted would happen in part 2 of this series (HERE). The fact that President Assad in his recent interview with Fox News last week, in which he announced his nations compliance to the resolution to the American people, he also continued to insist that the chemical weapons attack was not preformed by his forces. Something that if true, raises the question of what happens if another chemical attack occurs within Syria?

Yet, before this question can be answered, the truthfulness of President Assad's claim must be evaluated. To begin with it should be remembered that no report has publicly presented evidence for or concluded that President Assad's forces were behind the attack in August. In fact, all the reports and evidence so far have either been inconclusive, did not lay blame, or indicated that it was indeed the Free Syrian Army who was behind the previous chemical attacks. Moreover, as has been mentioned by those who have opposed U.S. intervention from the beginning, Assad would have no reason to cross the red-line of using chemical weapons and risk the United States getting involved. Rationality that is even more likely, now that President Assad has shown a willingness to comply to the United Nation's resolution. Lastly, President Assad in his recent interview with Fox News indicated that evidence has been submitted to the Russians that indicates that the rockets that contained the Sarin nerve gas and that were the means responsible for the chemical attack that occurred on August 21, 2013, were fired from installations that belong to the Free Syrian Army, not Assad's forces.

So with all indications pointing towards President Assad's claim being true, what will happen if another chemical attack does occur? There appear to be four different possible outcomes. The first and simplest action is for the United States and the rest of the world to do nothing, as had been the case for over two years prior to President Obama's limited strike proposal. Yet, with the U.N. now involved, not to mention that U.S. credibility has now been put at stake, this is an unlikely occurrence.

The next two possibilities are that the Russians or the Americans get directly involved in the conflict. It should be noted here that the Russians are already involved heavily in the conflict, already backing Assad with weapons and diplomatic support. So to suggest that Russia would place their own boots on the ground in this conflict is extremely unlikely. As for the other possibility that America will launch a strike or even a military invasion of Syria, this is more likely. Yet, it would pose some issues for the Obama administration, since their whole reasoning behind wanting to get involved in the conflict in the first place is that Assad used chemical weapons. So to admit that it was actually the Free Syrian Army, would not only cause some embarrassment for Obama, but it would severely undermine both President Obama's and the U.S. intelligence community's credibility. However, despite this the likelihood of a U.S. intervention is still quite high. Since under the guise of ending the atrocity of chemical attacks, especially considering that these weapons are in the hands of Al-Qaeda who makes up a majority of the Free Syrian Army forces,  President Obama should be able to intervene with little or no consequences at home politically.

Yet, the most likely outcome is that the U.N. will intervene with their own special forces troops, which are currently stationed and gathering at the Lebanon/Syrian border. This is especially likely when one considers that a mitigating factor for a direct U.S. intervention is that President Obama has continually sought the removal of President Assad in favor of the Free Syrian Army. An impossibility if Obama admits that the Free Syrian Army is made up of Islamic Extremists in order to justify why the U.S. must intervene and take control of all chemical weapons in Syria. Another reason that the U.N. is the most likely to intervene if another chemical weapon attack were to occur, is because it is now the least diplomatically difficult option for the two main players involved, the United States and Russia. Especially considering that it would allow the Russian backed Assad regime to remain in power while weakening his opponents in the Free Syrian Army, much to the pleasure of the Russians. Not to mention, that public opinion around the world would support a United Nation's intervention to seize the chemical weapons and prevent another war crime from occurring. Thus it is clear, that out of all the possible outcomes that might come to pass if another chemical attack does occur inside of Syria, a U.N. intervention is the most likely.

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Feel free to check more by clicking on the link(s) below:
Syria in One Week: Part 1 of 3 - What Does the New Deal Mean for U.S., Russia Relations? 
Syria in One Week: Part 2 of 3 - Will Assad Hand Over his Nation's Chemical Weapons?