Today's lede unsigned editorial in the New York Times, "Endless War, Endless Suffering," blames Russia and China for not contributing enough to the United Nations to mitigate the damage caused by Syria's civil war, a war, the Times once again reminds its readers, caused by "President Bashar al-Assad of Syria [when he] used force to crush peaceful protests that began in 2011."
Nowhere is there a condemnation of the Gulf sheikhdoms for the pipeline of jihadis creating havoc in the region. The Gray Lady acknowledges that the polio outbreak in the eastern city of Deir al-Zour is linked to jihadis from Pakistan: "Public health experts suspect that jihadists who entered Syria to join the fight against Mr. Assad may have been the carriers." But she can't find the words to condemn the nations -- the Saudis in particular -- that are funding these jihadis and actively working against peace talks in Geneva.
Those talks, Geneva II, now appear to be headed for another postponement thanks to Saudi Arabia. This is from Anne Barnard's "Foreign Support for Syrian Rebels Is Hindering Deal, Assad Says":
After a burst of optimism about convening the Geneva talks following Syria’s agreement last month to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal, which averted an American military strike on Mr. Assad’s forces, diplomats have become increasingly pessimistic. Some now privately suggest the talks may be postponed.
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, who collaborated with Secretary of State John Kerry to push for the chemical weapons agreement and the peace talks, expressed some frustration on Wednesday, suggesting that Saudi Arabia in particular was posing a new obstacle over its unhappiness that the United States had dropped a threat to attack Mr. Assad’s forces.
“The situation is somewhat more complicated because there have already been open objections to that conference initiated by Russia and the United States, objections not only from various Syrian factions but also from the capitals of some neighboring and not only neighboring states,” Mr. Lavrov told a news conference in Athens, where he was on an official visit.
Without specifying Saudi Arabia by name, Mr. Lavrov said that “those who sought regime change and helped voluntarily or involuntarily to create an extremists’ state there are now unable to hide their emotions.”Alan Cowell reports that all Syrian chemical weapons production sites have been decommissioned. As for the two sites that could not be accessed because they were in territory controlled by rebels, the Syrian government has declared to the OPCW that the chemical weapons had been previously removed from those sites:
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague said in a statement that a joint team of its inspectors and United Nations officials had visited 21 of the 23 chemical sites Syria declared to them. While the remaining two sites were too hazardous to visit because of the country’s continuing civil war, the chemical-making equipment there had already been moved to other sites which the inspectors could visit.
“The Joint O.P.C.W.-U.N. mission has inspected 21 of the 23 sites declared by Syria, and 39 of the 41 facilities located at those sites,'’ the statement said. “The two remaining sites were not visited due to safety and security concerns. But Syria declared those sites as abandoned and that the chemical weapons program items they contained were moved to other declared sites, which were inspected.”
“The joint mission is now satisfied that it has verified — and seen destroyed — all of Syria’s declared critical production and mixing/filling equipment,” it added.Cowell provides a little more detail as to the location of the CW production facilities not in government control:
The watchdog has not specified the precise location of the sites that inspectors were not able to visit on a mission that showed the perils of operating in a war zone where some places are under siege and, in others, battle lines shift unpredictably.
Michael Luhan, a spokesman for the O.P.C.W., said one of the sites was in the area around Damascus and the other was in the northern Aleppo area, where news reports say government forces have bombarded the town of Safira in recent weeks to try to dislodge rebels including Islamist fighters linked to Al Qaeda.
“Access to both sites would be extremely risky,” Mr. Luhan said.Then there is this nugget in the second-to-last paragraph of the story:
“In addition, the Syrian authorities have reported finding two cylinders not belonging to them, which are believed to contain chemical weapons,” the report said, without elaborating, according to the news agency.As I said before, there needs to be an official reappraisal by the United States of its position that only the Syrian government has access to chemical weapons.