Syria Calls Weapons Deal a “Victory”

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 15 2013 2:34 PM

Syria Calls Weapons Deal a “Victory,” While Kerry Warns “The Threat of Force Is Real”

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Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu go to shake hands at the conclusion of their statements after a lengthly meeting in the prime minister's Jerusalem offices

Photo by Jim Hollander-Pool/Getty Images

The Assad regime praised the US-Russia deal that calls for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons as a “victory” that helped prevent war. “We welcome these agreements. On the one hand, they will help Syrians come out of the crisis, and on the other hand, they prevented the war against Syria by having removed a pretext for those who wanted to unleash it,” minister Ali Haidar told Russia’s RIA news agency. The minister added that the agreement “is a victory for Syria won thanks to our Russian friends.” Ali was the first Syrian official to give an official reaction to the deal reached Saturday in Geneva, notes Reuters. For their part, rebels continue to be angry at how the whole thing has played out, saying the obsession on poison gas and chemical weapons is nothing but a sideshow. Now that the threat of air strikes has been moved to the backburner, rebels claim that Assad is increasing an offensive using ordinary weapons.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry sent a warning to Syria saying that the threat of force could once again quickly be put on the table if Damascus fails to fulfill the steps necessary to get rid of all its chemical weapons. In Jerusalem, where he met with Israeli leaders who are worried about what the deal could mean for the region, Kerry said that “we cannot have hollow words in the conduct of international affairs.” Israel is particularly concerned that if the international community fails to act forcefully in Syria it would encourage Iran to speed up its nuclear program, notes the Associated Press. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the deal brokered between Moscow and Washington proved that "if diplomacy has any chance to work, it must be coupled with a credible military threat."

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.