Assad’s Terms

In an interview about the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, Assad declared that, “When we see the United States really wants stability in our region and stops threatening, striving to attack, and also ceases arms deliveries to terrorists, then we will believe that the necessary processes can be finalized.” Ezra focuses on Assad’s demand that America stop arming the rebels:

Assad is demanding the U.S. choose between its goals of enforcing the ban against chemical weapons and getting Assad out of power.

Right now, Assad’s got the upper hand in Syria’s civil war. The U.S. could change that in two ways. One is directly bombing Assad’s military assets. The other is aggressively training and arming the opposition — something we’re really only just beginning to do.

The discussion around the Syria disarmament deal has mostly focused on defusing the U.S.’s threat to bomb Assad. But what Assad is saying here is that’s not good enough: The U.S. also needs to stop arming his enemies. That means the real cost of destroying Assad’s chemical weapons is watching him crush the opposition and retain power.