As Bashar al-Assad's regime continues to face increased resistance by the Syrian people, the U.S. has begun to work with other countries in the region to curtail the spread of Syria's weapons of mass destruction. The troubled country has sizeable amounts of chemical weapons, among other destructive treasures:
This week, the State Department sent a diplomatic demarche to Syria's neighbors Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, warning them about the possibility of Syria's WMDs crossing their borders and offering U.S. government help in dealing with the problem, three Obama administration officials confirmed to The Cable. For concerned parties both inside and outside the U.S. government, the demarche signifies that the United States is increasingly developing plans to deal with the dangers of a post-Assad Syria -- while simultaneously highlighting the lack of planning for how to directly bring about Assad's downfall.
Syria is believed to have a substantial chemical weapons program, which includes mustard gas and sophisticated nerve agents, such as sarin gas, as well as biological weapons. Syria has also refused IAEA requests to make available facilities that were part of its nuclear weapons program and may still be in operation.
A State Department official had this to say on the matter:
"The U.S. and our allies are monitoring Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. These weapons' presence in Syria undermines peace and security in the Middle East, and we have long called on the Syrian government to destroy its chemicals weapons arsenal and join the Chemical Weapons Convention," the State Department official said. "We believe Syria's chemical weapons stockpile remains under Syrian government control, and we will continue to work closely with like-minded countries to prevent proliferation of Syria's chemical weapons program."
Meanwhile, violence in Syria has escalated dramatically, and the year-long anti-government revolution has, by now, claimed the lives of thousands of Syrians, including several hundred children. On Wednesday, reknowned American journalist Marie Colvin perished in a shelling attack while covering Homs. International humanitarian organizations, along with the United Nations, have tried repeatedly to convince Assad to abdicate power, but as of now, he remains obstinate. Regardless, there's widespread thought that his regime will fall; thus, the U.S. has begun to form a contingency plan regarding Syria's weapons stockpile.
Better safe than sorry. No one wants to be caught unawares by chemical weapons.