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Syria Update: Beyond Assad’s Chemical Weapons

Last week, we learned that not only does the embattled Assad regime have ties to terrorist groups; it also has chemical weapons. Now The Washington Post reports that we owe Iran and, yes, the EU, a big thanks for the Syrian regime’s chemical stockpiles:

“Iran would provide the construction design and equipment to annually produce tens to hundreds of tons of precursors for VX, sarin, and mustard [gas],” said the cable, written by a U.S. diplomat. “Engineers from Iran’s DIO [Defense Industries Organization] were to visit Syria and survey locations for the plants, and construction was scheduled from the end of 2005-2006.”


In 2010, the European Union initiated a $14.6 million technical assistance program intended to improve industrial production in Syria.

An E.U. spokesman said the money was part of a program to finance Syria’s development of safety standards for products and laboratories. But the testing equipment, experts said, could potentially have been used in a chemical weapons program.

What’s worse, it now looks as though chemical weapons may not the thing we should be most worried about in Syria. At Foreign Policy, John Reed takes a look at the much-neglected potential of Syrian shoulder-fired missiles (MANPADS) to wreak havoc:

Even the Syrian regime’s aging stockpile of Soviet-made [MANPADS] SA-7s could pose a threat to civilian planes, the Federation of American Scientists’ Matt Schroeder told FP today. He pointed out that SA-7s have been used to shoot down several civilian planes. There was a famous incident in Baghdad in 2003 where an Airbus A300 cargo plane on contract to DHL was hit by an SA-7 and almost crashed.

The rebels are lobbying Washington for their own MANPADS, but even if Americans hold back on sending the equipment, the opposition will almost certainly tear the missiles from the cold, dead fingers of vanquished security forces.

The more we learn about Syria, the messier it looks. This is quickly shaping up into a major test for the Obama Administration.

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  • Kris

    Here is my solution, provided for free:
    1. Somehow provoke Syria into launching a serious strike on Israel, preferably one involving chemical weapons. (Perhaps elements in the army can be bribed or convinced that this is the right thing to do. Perhaps we can leak information about an impending Israeli attack. Perhaps a false flag operation.)
    2. Let Israel know that we will not interfere, and will shield it from diplomatic consequences.
    3. Munch on popcorn.

  • Tom Holsinger

    Contagious bioweapons are the worst.

  • Alex Scipio

    Assad is a mass murderer. Al Qaeda kills everyone unwilling to return to the 7th Century. Kill em all. They are enormous friction to modernity.

  • Peter

    Kris wrote:”Somehow provoke Syria into launching a serious strike on Israel, preferably one involving chemical weapons.” but forgot to add “and don’t give a broken bedpan about the hundreds or possibly thousands of dead Israelis and the hundreds of thousands or possibly millions of dead Syrians”.

  • dearieme

    Do you suppose that the Obama regime doesn’t have ties to terrorist groups and that it doesn’t have chemical weapons?

  • Brendan Doran

    The Jeffersonian Foreign Policy would be: let the Russians handle it. No matter what occurs even a repeat of Grozny would involve a better outcome for both of us, and probably the Syrians.

  • thibaud

    What does Mr Mead propose as our policy re Syria?

  • Kris

    Peter@4: You’re right, Kris is indeed a cold-hearted offspring of a female dog. I have it on good authority that Kris’ favorite breakfast is fricasseed Irish babies!

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