Syrians Formally Accept Russian Proposal

Not surprisingly, the Syrians have formally accepted Russia’s proposal to turn their chemical weapons stocks over to a third party:

MOSCOW (AP) — Syria said Tuesday it has accepted Russia’s proposal to place its chemical weapons under international control for subsequent dismantling.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Tuesday after meeting with Russian parliament speaker that his government quickly “agreed to the Russian initiative.”

Al-Moallem added that Syria did so to “uproot U.S. aggression.”

His statement sounded more definitive than his remarks Monday, when he said that Damascus welcomed Russia’s initiative.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that Russia is now working with Syria to prepare a detailed plan of action, which will be presented shortly.

Lavrov said that Russia will then be ready to finalize the plan together with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Where we go from here is unclear. There’s still the question of a time period for how long this turnover would take place, who the “third party” that would take custody of the weapons would be (as an initial step, the Russians seem like the logical choice), and what involvement any threat of force for non-compliance would take. Nonetheless, it does appear that yesterday’s developments were the real thing and that the game has changed significantly on Syria.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Good news, if true. We’ll need to keep our fingers crossed.

  2. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    “Syria, under pressure from the Russians, may voluntarily give up its chemical weapons – and without any force used by the Americans? This is a CATASTROPHE!” – No one but Doug.

  3. Butch Bracknell says:

    Well, that c

  4. Butch Bracknell says:

    Certainly went well.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    I’m reasonably optimistic. Putin’s own prestige is on the line here and Syria relies heavily on Russian support. As I said yesterday, it may have been serendipity, but I’ll take my wins however they come.

  6. Rob in CT says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Agreed, this might just work out. Putin gets to look statesmanlike. Assad doesn’t get bombed. Obama doesn’t have to bomb. Congress doesn’t have to vote on whether or not to bomb. And hopefully, a pile of chemical weapons are taken out of a warzone, and we see no further chemical attacks.

    Now, about that whole “arm the rebels” plan…

  7. john personna says:

    Indeed, the only “losers” are those who were strongly invested in Obama and his Red Line being wrong.

  8. Stonetools says:

    So Obama drawing a red line doesn’t seem so stupid after all…

  9. michael reynolds says:

    This all vaguely reminds me of the IRBM protests of the 80’s. The USSR had upgraded their intermediate range ballistic missiles so we wanted to counter by installing IRBMs and GLCMs in Europe.

    Huge protests from the Left, which deployed all their best papier maché effigies and performed much street theater. Long story short, Reykjavik and a treaty and no IRBM’s – ours or theirs. The treaty came because we threatened. No threat, no treaty, no treaty = greater danger, so in the end threat = security, much to the disappointment of the papier maché effigy industry.

  10. (as an initial step, the Russians seem like the logical choice)

    Indeed, this may be Putin’s goal. It gives him an excuse to send Russian troops to Syria. Once the issue falls off the front pages, they can begin helping Assad fight the rebels while simultaneously making future US military involvement nearly impossible.

  11. Rob in CT says:

    The pushback against strikes also played a role, folks. The fact that a huge majority of Americans didn’t want to strike fed into the whole thing. Under different circumstances, it’s possible we’d have simply launched the strikes and the possible diplomatic solution never materializes.

    Incidently, I think it’s entirely possible we’d be in a very similar spot had Obama avoided saying the words “red line.” I didn’t like the red line statement because I thought it gave him less flexibility, upped the stakes, etc. If it all works out, great.

  12. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    How does that work, seriously?

    I’m sure Assad and Putin were reading US media, and knew that polls were running against military action. How does that encourage them to do a deal to take chemical weapons out of the equation?

    All they had to do was wait for the isolationists to prevail, right?

  13. Neil Hudelson says:

    Al-Moallem added that Syria did so to “uproot U.S. aggression.”

    So we are in a situation where Russia and Putin can look like leaders on the world stage, and Obama can credibly claim that the threat of attacks moved Syria towards a diplomatic solution.*

    That’s one hell of a 24 hour period.

    *If it all works, of course.

  14. says:

    In response to all the “Americans got lucky” and “Obama wants to bomb anyway” statements – according to at least one news outlet, a Russian spokesperson stated Obama and Putin were discussing this whole plan last week at the summit:

    .In a further development, a spokesman for Vladimir Putin said the Russian president had discussed the weapons handover plan with Obama at last week’s G-20 summit

    Perhaps the president is not a total idiot but likes to keep his options pen and doesn’t tell the American public everything that comes up?

  15. al-Ameda says:

    I’d say that Putin is in line to get a lot of grief here. He’s the one saying he’ll take care of this Syrian chemical weapons problem, and what’s going to happen when the Syrians don’t comply with what was promised? I think Obama avoided stepping in it, and Putin gets to walk around with a “doggy bag.”