Chem­i­cal Watch­dog The OPCW Con­venes

Iran News - - WORLD NEWS -

THE HAGUE (Dis­patches) - The global chem­i­cal arms watch­dog held emer­gency talks Mon­day in The Hague on an al­leged Syr­ian regime at­tack on Douma, where a team of its ex­perts was be­gin­ning its field work.

Am­bas­sadors con­vened at the OPCW’s head­quar­ters two days after an un­prece­dented wave of puni­tive mis­sile strikes launched by Western pow­ers be­fore a fact-find­ing team could in­ves­ti­gate.

Talks were held be­hind closed doors at the Nether­lands seat of the No­bel Peace prize-win­ning Or­ga­ni­za­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chem­i­cal Weapons, two days after its mis­sion ar­rived in Da­m­as­cus.

The team had been ex­pected to be­gin their field work on Sun­day but they met with of­fi­cials at their Da­m­as­cus ho­tel in­stead and a strict me­dia black­out was im­posed on their sched­ule.

In the Syr­ian cap­i­tal, thou­sands of peo­ple gath­ered on the main Umayyad square to ex­press their sup­port for Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad in the af­ter­math of the mis­sile strikes.

The mis­siles that U.S., French and Bri­tish war­ships fired on sus­pected chem­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties Satur­day were the big­gest Western at­tack against the regime in the seven-year war.

The tar­geted sites were largely empty but U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump hailed a “per­fectly ex­e­cuted” op­er­a­tion.

Trump’s “Mis­sion Ac­com­plished” tweet earned him par­al­lels with Ge­orge W. Bush’s fate­fully pre­ma­ture vic­tory speech days after the 2003 in­va­sion of Iraq.

The lim­ited scope of the strikes and the fact that Da­m­as­cus had time to re­move key as­sets thanks to prior warn­ing given by the West to Syria regime ally Rus­sia, also drew skep­ti­cal com­ments from an­a­lysts.

The trio of Western pow­ers that car­ried out the strikes warned they would re­peat the op­er­a­tion if Da­m­as­cus used chem­i­cal weapons again, while Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin warned any fresh strikes would “pro­voke chaos”.

Yet the Pen­tagon has said it planned no fur­ther strikes and the West al­ready ap­peared to be shift­ing its fo­cus to re­newed diplo­matic ac­tion, with a new res­o­lu­tion to be de­bated at the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil on Mon­day.

“The bot­tom line for me is that this lat­est strike changed noth­ing,” said Nabeel Khoury, a for­mer U.S. diplo­mat and cur­rently a fel­low at the Atlantic Coun­cil think tank.

“In my opin­ion, it was a staged drama, or­ches­trated by Trump and Putin, for each to save face,” he said. Many com­men­ta­tors have ar­gued that As­sad’s regime only came out stronger be­cause the strikes re­vealed the West’s in­abil­ity or un­will­ing­ness to re­move him from power.

The April 7 strike on Douma, in which most ex­perts say chlo­rine as well as an agent such as sarin were used, killed at least 40 peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal medics.

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