Moments ago, Syria relented to the main gating condition that would prevent an all out escalation, and as Russia urged it to, has permitted an inspection of last Wednesday’s alleged chemical weapons attack by UN inspectors. The WSJ reports that “Syria would allow United Nations inspectors currently present in Damascus immediate access to areas around the capital where the opposition accused the regime of using chemical weapons against fighters and civilians five days ago. A presenter on Syrian state television reading a statement attributed to an unnamed official at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the agreement was reached after a meeting between Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and Angela Kane, the U.N. disarmament chief, who arrived in Damascus on Saturday.”
The statement said the date and timing of the visit would be coordinated between the U.N. team led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom and the Syrian government.
“The foreign minister affirmed Syria’s desire to cooperate with the team of inspectors to unmask the falsehood of the allegations by terrorist groups that Syrian forces used chemical weapons in the eastern Ghouta,” it added, referring to the eastern suburbs of Damascus and using the government’s term for the rebels battling the regime.
Hundreds of people died in last Wednesday’s attack, and human-rights groups say victims bear the hallmarks of sarin nerve gas.
Of course, since demand for said inspection was just a strawman as the last time the UN inspected a “certain” chemical weapons attack by Assad it found “rebels may have used sarin” instead, and the US was absolutely certain Syria would not relent to an inspection thus allowing a full scale military attack, the US is now downplaying compliance with this key demand, by saying it is too little too late.
Sr US official: At this juncture, any belated decision by the regime to grant access to UN team would be too late to be credible. #syria
— Richard Engel (@RichardEngel) August 25, 2013
In other words, the US had its mind made up long ago: certainly long before anyone actually analyzed the culprit behind last week’s chemical attack. Putting it in a different light, a la Obamacare, “we must invade, before we inspect.”
Joking aside, the reason why the US “demands”, but doesn’t actually want the UN inspectors on the ground, is because it is terrified we will have a repeat of May, when the UN did inspect… only it found precisely the opposite of what the Nobel Peace Prize winner wanted:
Carla Del Ponte, a member of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said that testimony gathered from casualties and medical staff indicated that the nerve agent sarin was used by rebel fighters.
“Our investigators have been in neighbouring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated,” Ms Del Ponte said in an interview broadcast on Swiss-Italian television on Sunday.
“This was used on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” she added.
Ms Del Ponte said the inquiry has yet to see any direct evidence suggesting that government forces have used chemical weapons, but said further investigation was required before this possibility could be ruled out.
The UN commission, which is investigating human rights abuses in Syria since the start of the civil war, later released a statement distancing itself from the allegations. It said that investigators had “not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict”.
The White House said it was “highly skeptical” of suggestions that Syrian rebels used chemical weapons. “We find it highly likely that chemical weapons, if they were in fact used in Syria – and there is certainly evidence that they were – that the Assad regime was responsible,” spokesman Jay Carney said.
And so, once again, the question boils down to what does Russia do when it reports, correctly, to the international community that Syria has complied with the key condition that would otherwise precede the US’ launch of cruise missiles in direction Damascus when it starts operation “Boost US Budget Deficit.”
In the meantime while we await the answer, and as always, here is the POTUS with the Nobel Peace Prize medal and diploma (supposedly it says “Pass” though we can’t quit make it out).