In the last two weeks a happenstance agreement on Syria's chemical weapons has changed the discussion from 'what should we do' to 'what just happened'. Here's another attempt to break down the underlying questions and arguments. I do not think we will see again the kind of policy debate we saw around possible strikes, so my review of news and events here has more information than arguments.
Sept 9th - John Kerry's rhetorical comment
Sept 13th - Kerry and Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Sept 14th - Deal reached
Sept 20th - Syria submits inventory [NYT]
What does the deal do?
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will draft procedures for CW disposal and verification
Includes destruction of production equipment and delivery systems
UN Security Council resolution with regular reviews of Syria
Will impose Chapter VII measures if Syria noncompliant
Syria must give access to OPCW and UN
Expected to submit listing of all items today, Sept. 21
Completion of initial OPCW on-site inspections by November
Destruction of production and mixing/fillingby November
Elimination of all CW and CW equipment by first half of 2014
Solves Obama's dilemma.
Gold star for Putin.
Assad buys time.
Did US threat of "incredibly small" strike make Syria agree to concessions?
Rebels lose hope of US strike on Assad.
Winners and losers depends on reference point [Drezner]
Further Information on Strikes
Found evidence of Sarin in samples of environment and patients
Does not attribute blame
Of 5 impact sites, 2 gave likely trajectories.
HRW mapped the trajectories, suggesting they originated from a Republican Guard brigade
Theories on Assad's usage of CW [PV@G]
Signal disregard for international norms
Remove uncertainty about USA intervention
German intelligence attributes attack to regime but not to Assad [Guardian]
Syria's deputy prime minister says that the conflict is a stalemate
Assad will call for a ceasefirewith international observation [Guardian]
Government's position: end of external intervention, peaceful political process
Rebel position: Assad ouster and transitional government.
Rebel group conflict - Free Syrian Army fighting Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
jihadist groups showing greater deference to local population
Timeline will be difficult, especially in wartime [CFR Stares]
Putin made his case to the American public through a NYT op-ed
Putin blames foreign weapons supplied to opposition
But Russia is source of 71% of Syria's arms imports
Putin calls for multilateral approach
But Russia has blocked UN statements on humanitarian concerns
Putin bemoans America's tendency to intervene
But Russia still occupies 20% of Georgia
Putin says "we must not forget that God created us equal"
Does not apply to homosexuals in Russia
BBC has a nice looking overview of the conflict starting with protests