Syria’s Chemical Weapons Destruction a Success So Far. What’s Next?

The Nobel Peace Prize Winning Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says that all of Syria’s chemical weapons production facilities have been “rendered inoperable.” This meets a November 1 deadline set for this phase of the Syria chemical weapons stockpile destruction that was agreed to between Russia, the United States and the rest of the Security Council last month.

There is still a ways to go before all chemical weapons stockpiles are firmly under international control–the big deadline for that is mid 2014. But the fact that the OPCW met its first deadline with a day to spare demonstrates that the deal worked out between the Russians and the Americans is so far working.

The early success of the OPCW mission also shows  that when the Security Council is unified, things can happen on the ground in Syria with alacrity. The key now is for Russia and the USA to find common enough common ground that they can begin to sketch an outline to an internationally backed diplomatic solution to the civil war. So far, though, that does not seem to be the case: just yesterday we learned that the Geneva II conference has been delayed yet again. (It was originally planned for last spring).

The civil war in Syria cannot come to a conclusion until its main international backers make it so. Unless Russia, the USA and the major players in the region decide to end the conflict it simply will keep grinding on.  The success of the chemical weapons deal shows that unity is possible, now it is time for the big players to harness that unity again–this time to press for an end to the conflict.