Jerusalem: Too Early for Champagne on Syria

Russian, Syrian interests diametrically opposed to the West's, diplomats note; urge caution on Russian offer to supervise chemical weapons.

Gil Ronen,

Illustration: US Army 23rd Chemical Battalion
Illustration: US Army 23rd Chemical Battalion
AFP file

Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said Tuesday that the Russian offer to supervise chemical weapons in Syria must be examined with suspicion and caution, and that the West needs to make sure that the offer is not a manipulation designed to prevent a strike on Syria or postpone it as much as possible.

"Israel is out of the game," the diplomatic sources told IDF Radio, "but the United States had better examine this compromise offer well, since the interests of the Russians and Syrians are diametrically opposed to the direction in which the West wanted to lead matters – therefore, this should be examined carefully. It is still not time to break out the champagne bottles."

If, however, Assad is truly willing to compromise in deeds and not just in words, the sources added, this development has positive implications for the Iranian problem, too – indicating that when the military option becomes tangible, even the toughest dictators take a step back and are willing to open up their chemical weapons to international supervision.

"They brought a few warships and Assad got the jitters – maybe the same thing could be done with Iran," a diplomatic source said, according to the report.

"If the offer only includes supervision of chemical weapons, then we have done very little," Major General (res.) Giora Eiland told IDF Radio, "but if it also includes real moves to dismantle chemical weapons, that is no small thing. For us it is a good result without our having had to do anything."