New Age Islam Edit Bureau
03 February 2016
The Emergence of ISIL in Libya
Appears To Have Tipped the Balance in the War-Torn Country
By Olivier Guitta
The Economic Motives behind Israeli
By Yossi Mekelberg
Breaking the Silence in Yemen
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Let the UN Take the Lead on
Afghanistan and Syria
By Massoumeh Torfeh
Is Hezbollah Targeting A VP Position
By Khairallah Khairallah
Syria’s Continuing Chemical Fallout
By Ahmet Uzumcu
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
The Emergence of ISIL In Libya Appears
To Have Tipped The Balance In The War-Torn Country
02 Feb 2016
While Syria and Iraq may have grabbed the
headlines over the past few years, another country has been preying on the mind
of some Western officials. In private, French, Italian, British and United
States defence officials and diplomats have expressed their huge concern about
Libya. Now that the likelihood of a military intervention has increased, 2016
may turn out to be the year of Libya.
Back in November 2013, former Libyan Prime
Minister Ali Zeidan warned that the "international community cannot
tolerate a state in the middle of the Mediterranean that is a source of
violence, terrorism and killings." Only a handful of nations listened to
In a May 2014 interview, I stated that the
US, French and Algerian special forces had been allegedly conducting operations
against al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) since early that year.
In August 2014, Algeria, Morocco and
Tunisia were on high alert after an alleged US tip-off that Libyan jihadists
were planning to fly planes into buildings in these countries, in attacks
similar to that of September 11.
World Leaders Push for Libya Peace to
Taking the threat seriously, Morocco
mobilised 70,000 soldiers across the country and installed anti-aircraft
batteries in Casablanca, Marrakesh and Tangier to shoot down any civilian plane
that might have been taken by terrorists.
Algeria took similar measures. In 2014, it
had reportedly conducted operations for almost two months inside Libya
involving up to 5,000 soldiers to root out jihadists.
As the joint Egypt-United Arab Emirates air
strikes in Libya showed in 2014, regional powers are not going to sit idly by
as dark clouds gather nearby, which could mean that Libya becomes the most
dangerous place, not only for North Africa but for Europe. It could even shift
the focus from Iraq and Syria.
A New Syria?
Libya has the largest stockpile of loose
weapons in the world - according to some reports, even larger than the British
army's arsenal - plus about 4,000 surface-to-air missiles and 6,400 barrels of
uranium concentrate powder, known as "yellowcake", that could pass
into the hands of terror groups such as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
(ISIL), AQIM or al Mourabitoun which controls large swaths of territory in the
While the worsening situation in Libya
failed to trigger an international military intervention in 2015, the emergence
of ISIL in Libya appears to have tipped the balance.
Libya is ISIL's second largest 'market'
after Iraq and Syria, and as it was extensively featured in the September issue
of ISIL magazine Dabiq, it has the potential to become a popular training
ground for European recruits.
While Italy, for example, has said that it
will not attack ISIL in Syria, it has indicated that it might attack in Libya,
which could mean air strikes as well as Special Forces on the ground. Italy has
now taken the lead over France when it comes to "fixing" Libya, which
isn't surprising when one considers Italy's colonial past in Libya, its
commercial interests there, and the fact that Rome has been repeatedly
threatened by ISIL.
Another nation, Canada, is actually
withdrawing its fighter jets from the coalition in Iraq and Syria, so that it
is ready to take part in a military operation in Libya.
Britain is actually preparing to send up to
1,000 troops and special forces to Libya. This should not come as a surprise
following the June terror attack in Tunisia, in which 30 British citizens died,
because the attacker was an ISIL operative trained in Libya. At the time, David
Cameron, the British prime minister, said that he was ready to launch
"immediate" air strikes against terrorists in Libya.
Russia could also get involved in Libya after
General Khalifa Haftar reached out to them for support.
The new Saudi-led coalition against ISIL
could also see more action in Libya than Syria or Iraq because of both Egypt
and the UAE's interests there. Finally, both France and the US have recently been
preparing public opinion for an imminent intervention.
Once initiated, the air strikes are likely
to focus on ISIL's stronghold in Sirte and possibly the two large ISIL training
camps in Hun, 200 kilometres south of Sirte.
The Appeal for ISIL
ISIL is believed to have between 3,000 and
5,000 fighters in Libya, but that number could rise quickly for two reasons:
Firstly, some of the fighters leaving Syria could join ISIL in Libya; and,
secondly, new recruits are expected to swell their ranks.
Libya is ISIL's second largest
"market" after Iraq and Syria and featured extensively in the
September issue of ISIL's magazine Dabiq. It has the potential to become a
popular training ground for European recruits. In November 2015, two Frenchmen
were arrested in southern Tunisia - reportedly on their way to join an ISIL
A North African from Brussels, Paris or
Amsterdam would have much more in common with someone from Libya rather than in
Syria or Iraq, making it more appealing to recruits. And while entry to Syria
is getting more difficult, Libya is now seen as a possible springboard to
destabilise neighbouring Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
And while ISIL would be the main target in
Libya, it is interesting that it was a recent AQIM video that called on Libyans
to rise up against the invaders from Italy, France, the US and Britain.
Given the situation in Libya - a failed
state with three governments, no real army, a plethora of militias and several
seasoned terror groups - any international military intervention force will
have its work cut out..
Olivier Guitta is the managing director of GlobalStrat, a geopolitical
risk and security consultancy firm with a regional specialisation on Europe,
the Middle East and Africa.
3 February 2016
In the interminable discussion of breaking
the stalemate between Palestinians and Israelis, the economic aspect of the
Israeli occupation and its impact on Palestinians human rights is mostly pushed
A new report by the New York-based Human
Rights Watch (HRW) highlights how Israeli and international businesses have
helped to entrench the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. This is done in
violation of their human rights obligations and at the expense of Palestinians’
most basic rights to their land, freedom of movement and ability to benefit
from natural resources on that land.
As much as the settlers’ movement and their
political allies in the Israeli government are hard at work in presenting the
occupation and settlement building as a security imperative, for the survival
of the Jewish state, they conveniently conceal that it is also a very
profitable economic enterprise. The Israel’s security, ideological and economic
motives for imposing its control over the lives of millions of Palestinians is
becoming almost impossible to undo, especially in the face of an international
community that ignores this triple nexus.
This HRW report indirectly also exposes the
economic motives behind the decision of many Jewish Israelis to live in the
occupied territories of the West Bank. If the impetus behind the first wave of
settlers and settlements was anchored by mainly messianic-nationalist-religious
zeal, economics played a bigger role for most those who followed them.
Occupation for economic reasons is no
better than for ideological ones, but it suggests alternative remedies
Shortage of properties and increased house
prices in Israel proper, coupled with a range of government financial
incentives, including cheap mortgages and loans, encouraged immigration into
Palestinians territories. Occupation for economic reasons is no better than for
ideological ones, but it suggests alternative remedies.
Admittedly, those whose parents and
grandparents moved for economic reasons to colonize the West Bank, on behalf of
the Israeli government, might develop ideological, atavistic or even
sentimental attachments. However, exploring the economic draw could open the
door for a discourse, which is neither based on security nor ideology for the
repatriation of Jewish settlers back to the Israeli side of the Green Line.
Contravention of Law
It is almost universally agreed that the
Israeli settlements have been built in direct contravention of the laws of
occupation. By transferring citizens into a territory occupied by Israel since
1967 and by displacing Palestinians from their land in the West Bank, the
Israeli government violates the Fourth Geneva Convention that explicitly
prohibits these actions. Moreover, under the provisions of the Rome Statute,
the International Criminal Court has the jurisdiction over war crimes, such as
the one established by the Fourth Geneva convention.
The HRW report brings compelling evidence
that companies, whether Israeli or international, by merely conducting business
in or with settlements contribute to Israel’s violations of international
humanitarian law and human rights abuses. Most worryingly, this 162 page report
demonstrates how these human rights abuses can revolve around some of the most
mundane, yet significant, aspects of daily life.
On the contrary, these rights make the
difference between living a free, prosperous and dignified life or not. Under
these circumstances, even granting a waste management company the right to
service settlements, by operating a landfill on confiscated land in the Jordan
Valley, is a human rights and political issue.
To make things worse, other violations of
human rights harm Palestinians’ ability to earn a living or build homes.
Currently they are restricted to building on only one percent of area C in the
West Bank, which is under Israeli administrative control. Israeli businesses
thrive on using the country’s military might to expropriate land for building
“industrial zones”, twenty of them so far, or cultivating agricultural land.
The inevitable and unacceptable product of
Israeli settlement activity is the confiscation of land, water and other
natural resources at the expense of the Palestinian people. This is done with
the support of the banking sector, which finances these business enterprises
and makes them seemingly culprits in prolonging the occupation.
In a territory where there are two
different legal systems – one military law for Palestinians and another civil
law for Jews – there is no justice for the occupied. Consequentially, the
confiscation of land, displacement and restrictions of Palestinians’ movement
has become the norm, without recourse to law or legal remedy.
Abuse of Labour
Furthermore, there is constant labour abuse
of Palestinians that have very little choice but to seek employment in the
settlements. They are caught between job shortage within the Palestinian
economy and dwindling number of permits to work inside Israel. The alternative
is jobs offered in settlements that in many cases pay less than the minimum
wage and with very little social benefits.
Admittedly settlers have not invented
economic exploitation and are not the only ones to use it to their economic
advantage, but the political context of occupation and dispossession makes it
even more unscrupulous. The involvement of international companies in aiding
and abetting the Israeli occupation reflects another sad reality, as to how
profits for these companies are often prioritized over their corporate social
responsibility, while also ignoring the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and
Whether it is an international real estate
company based in the United States, that operates a subsidiary in Israeli
settlements, or a European company, which operates a quarry in the West Bank
and pays millions of US dollars in taxes to the Samaria Regional Council; the
result is the perpetuation of Israeli control over an occupied land and people.
A single report as meticulously researched
and balanced might not change realities immediately, but it immensely
contributes toward reminding companies of their obligations to human rights and
humanitarian law. The longer the occupation continues the more it becomes
economically valuable and adds another tier of difficulties in reaching a
peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Yossi Mekelberg is an Associate Fellow at the Middle East and North
Africa Program at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House,
where he is involved with projects and advisory work on conflict resolution,
including Track II negotiations. He is also the Director of the International
Relations and Social Sciences Program at Regent’s University in London, where
he has taught since 1996. Previously, he was teaching at King’s College London
and Tel Aviv University. Mekelberg’s fields of interest are international
relations theory, international politics of the Middle East, human rights, and
international relations and revolutions. He is a member of the London Committee
of Human Rights Watch, serving on the Advocacy and Outreach committee.
Mekelberg is a regular contributor to the international media on a wide range
of international issues
By 2 February 2016
Ten months after the war began in Yemen,
there are three powers now stationed in the country: the government and the
Arab alliance in one front, Houthis and ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh in
another front while al-Qaeda is the third front. What has changed since then is
the failure of the Houthis and Saleh to take over the authority in the country
as the legitimate government has returned to Yemen after it had lost every inch
Ten months may not seem long in the
duration of wars. However, they are enough to conclude that Yemen will not be
left for the Iranians to control via its proxy, the Houthis, and will not be
left to submit to Saleh’s personal ambitions of seizing power. Practically
speaking, the war changed the map of power on ground just enough to give us a
glimpse of Yemen’s future. Exhausted rebellious groups may have to raise their
white flags later.
The time may be appropriate now to test the
Yemeni powers’ desire to reach a peaceful solution outside Swiss hotels
The time may be appropriate now to test the
Yemeni powers’ desire to reach a peaceful solution outside Swiss hotels, which
are now occupied with receiving delegations from other conflict zones. What got
me thinking about this is what my colleague Mustapha al-Noman, also a former
Yemeni ambassador, wrote in the Okaz newspaper about what he called “the third
Noman, whom I met during the recent Davos
forum in Switzerland, thinks that there is a number of respectable Yemeni
figures who are not part of the conflict and who can play a positive role in
limiting the crisis via mediating to end it.
His diagnosis of the Yemeni crisis is that
warring groups, in general, may not have the political skills required to
communicate and reach an understanding over a solution that takes everyone to
safety and helps devise an acceptable political plan.
“The third Yemeni party” consists of Yemeni
leaders who’ve stayed out of the crisis and who can form a bridge between the
different parties. They are people like Major General and former chief of
staff, Hussein al-Masori, former deputy prime minister, Ahmad Sofan, former
minister, Mohammad al-Tayyeb, Noman himself and others.
Can such a party succeed at creating dialog
and carrying messages that may produce a political solution before the war
completes its first year? It doesn’t harm to have active parallel, diplomatic,
military and independent negotiating efforts.
What matters is arriving at a solution
which can be implemented whenever possible, regardless of how far the alliance
has progressed in Yemen, in order to end the rebellion, implement U.N. Security
Council decisions which achieve Yemen’s unity and stability and establish a
It’s not necessary to wait for raising the
white flags when there’s a desire to achieve these aims. In the end, the
purpose of the war is achieving peace via the return of legitimacy to power.
There’s no doubt that the war in Yemen,
with all the pains it caused, has prevented the rebellious team consisting of
the Houthis and Saleh forces from seizing power. They would have turned Yemen
into an arena for revenge and tribal and sectarian struggles if they had
succeeded at controlling the country.
If Gulf countries hadn’t intervened, Yemen
may have ended up exactly like Somalia where failure to intervene led to civil
wars and famine. The civil war there has been ongoing for about 20 years now.
Yes, there’s a Saudi-Iranian war taking
place in Yemen albeit of a different kind. For Iran, which nurtures the
Houthis, its interest is to create chaos and use Yemen to target certain
segments of Yemeni society and Saudi Arabia.
The only interest of Saudi Arabia and the
rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is to achieve stability in
Yemen because this also ensures their own stability. This is something which
Saleh could not comprehend a year ago. He thought if he topples the Yemeni
government, Gulf countries will shut down their embassies in Sanaa, pack up
their bags and go home. This is why he ventured with all the funds and weapons
he looted and led the rebellion against the legitimate government by allying
with Iran’s militias.
He was taken by surprise when Saudi Arabia
acted in support of the legitimate government and launched a huge war against
him. Houthis, as a militia linked to Iran, have been assigned a difficult task,
and if it hadn’t been for Saleh’s forces, they wouldn’t have made it past the
city of Omran. The Houthis’ seizure of Omran tempted Saleh’s forces to rebel in
the capital, Sanaa, and march towards Aden.
This war has altered concepts as well as
the map, and the rebels are now aware that the alliance has the determination
and ammunition to resume the fight at a time when Saleh’s situation has taken a
turn for the worse. This will force him and his leaders to go into hiding after
a life of dignity he lived in his castle.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News
Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former
editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where
he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of
Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed
has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide
recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded,
thriving and influential position it is in today.
Let the UN Take the Lead on Afghanistan
Tajikistan, Central Asia's poorest state
and Afghanistan's northern neighbour, is under dangerous pressure both
internally and externally, according to an early warning report by
International Crisis Group.
The peace and security that has lasted for
almost 20 years in Tajikistan is now facing serious threats. Nevertheless, it
could be argued that the fact that peace has lasted for two decades is in
itself significant. It is indicative of the relative success of the
architecture of the Tajik peace accord of June 1997, which may have lessons for
the diplomatic efforts under way for peace in both Afghanistan and Syria.
Clearly the scale and details of these wars
vary considerably but the essential elements that make up a successful peace
process are relevant.
Syria's War: Indirect Talks Begin in
First, unlike the present examples of
Afghanistan and Syria, the Tajik peace process was from the outset designed and
implemented by the United Nations in cooperation with key regional powers.
Desire for Peace
Secondly, for about one year before
signing, the process benefited from a strong shared desire for peace by the
warring sides. This key element made compromise possible.
The peace accord was the culmination of a
hard-fought, three-year-long negotiation process; a process characterised by
extended periods of deadlock, often interrupted by spasms of violence between
the warring parties.
It followed five years of fighting at the
cost of up to 100,000 lives, devastating the economy and with dire humanitarian
The peace process must be mutually acceptable,
both sides must be prepared to give concessions, leaders must agree on the
accord, and, most importantly, all parties must have shared perceptions on the
desirability of an accord.
An important element was the persistent
demand of the people of Tajikistan for peace. Earlier, they had staged a 59-day
non-stop demonstration in the capital, Dushanbe, demanding change of government
in scenes not dissimilar to Syrian demonstrations at the outset. Although this
did not happen immediately, it was a powerful driving force in the Tajik
Perhaps it is based on such experiences
that before the peace talks in Geneva, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan
de Mistura, appealed to the Syrian people: "We count on you to raise your
voice, to say Khalas, it is enough," he said in a video message to
Syrians. "Enough killing, murdering, torturing, prisons."
Richard Haass, who was involved in the
Northern Ireland multi-party negotiations, argues that for diplomacy to succeed
four conditions must be considered ripe.
All four conditions in his model are
necessary, and the absence of any one is sufficient to preclude agreement: The
peace process must be mutually acceptable, both sides must be prepared to give
concessions, leaders must agree on the accord, and, most importantly, all
parties must have shared perceptions on the desirability of an accord.
In the case of Tajikistan, all these
conditions came together and the UN was trusted as the objective mediator and
allowed to play its part. This was unlike in Afghanistan, where the government
has repeatedly insisted on an "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned" process,
discouraging the UN from participation.
Likewise in Syria, the UN itself turned
into the main battlefield between the permanent members of the Security Council
with veto powers.
Moreover, in the case of Tajikistan,
through UN diplomacy the key neighbouring countries were encouraged to play
their part. Iran and Russia, which were the primary rivals in the conflict,
eventually found mutually acceptable terms. That cooperation continues today on
the world stage. Other regional players were brought in to act as observers to
the peace process.
Some figures with moral authority such as
Prince Karim Aga Khan, leader of the Ismaili population (a sizeable community
of Ismailis reside in Tajikistan) or the iconic commander of Afghanistan, Ahmad
Shah Massoud, who did not live to see peace in his own country, were among the
main peace brokers.
Twenty years ago this year, on December 11,
1996, Massoud, with the then Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, mediated the
initial agreement which in turn demarcated the overall shape of the final Tajik
So far attempts at holding peace talks
between the Afghan government and the Taliban have been mismanaged by constant
secrecy, confusion suffering from a lack of objective, well-meaning diplomacy
In the case of Syria, too, it has taken
five years and hundreds of thousands killed and millions displaced for the UN
to be given a mandate in December 2015 by the Security Council to act. Even as
talks begin, the shadow of boycotts threatens the atmosphere and it is not
clear whether there is that mutual consensus to give peace a chance.
The UN is often accused of being
ineffective, and in many instances its gigantic administrative machinery causes
delays. However, it remains the most qualified organisation to design and
implement peace. The UN cannot, however, operate if it is not given a mandate
at the outset of a conflict; if its envoys are not supported by powerful
members of the Security Council; and if it does not have the power to hold to
account those responsible for the continuation of bloodshed and contravention
of international law.
ICG is right to warn that Tajikistan's
peace must be safeguarded by the international community because as we see all
around us, reaching peace is never easy.
Dr Massoumeh Torfeh is the former director of strategic communication at
the UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan and is currently a research associate
at the London School of Economics and Political Science, specialising in Iran,
Afghanistan, and Central Asia.
Is Hezbollah Targeting A VP Position In Lebanon?
Has electing a president in Lebanon become
possible now that there are two candidates, Michel Aoun and Suleiman Franjieh?
Or do Hezbollah’s aims extend beyond the Maronite presidential post and go as
far as limiting the jurisdiction of the Sunni prime minister?
Hezbollah could have announced its support
for Aoun as president, especially after Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea
endorsed him even though they are bitter rivals. Hezbollah does not seem to be
in a rush to elect a president. So was the 2008 Doha Agreement, which brought
Michel Suleiman to the presidency, the last successful attempt to elect a
president without having to amend the constitution?
There are two presidential candidates from
the March 8 coalition, but Hezbollah - which leads this coalition - is refusing
to attend parliament sessions to elect a president. Is there a farce bigger
The next few weeks will reveal whether
Hezbollah aims to bring a candidate they approve of to the presidency, or amend
the constitution in order to establish a fixed Shiite post through which
Hezbollah, and thus Iran, can indefinitely control Lebanon. Such a post, which
no one is publicly addressing, would be that of a vice president.
From Hezbollah’s perspective, the vice
president must have clear jurisdictions that grant him veto power over national
decisions. Its excuse is that the Shiite sect is absent from executive
authority, thus ignoring the fact that this authority is present in the
Iran seeks to control Lebanon officially -
not only via a sectarian militia - by amending the constitution before electing
a president. This could be achieved by the constituent assembly, which
Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah called for before issuing a
At last week’s joint press conference Aoun
and Geagea turned a new page, putting behind intra-Christian disputes that
lasted for more than 25 years and benefitted no one in Lebanon. Geagea was
right to say the ball is now in Hezbollah’s court, and that the path has now
been paved to elect a president within days.
Meanwhile, I believe Lebanese Foreign
Minister Gebran Bassil, Aoun’s son in law, does not miss a chance to show that
he is Iran’s foreign minister. Therefore, Hezbollah thinks time is on its side
and the situation is turning in its favour, particularly given the country’s
bad situation in all fields, particularly the economy.
What will Aoun do if Hezbollah prevents him
from achieving his dream of becoming president, considering that the Iranian
project in Lebanon goes beyond certain figures and as far as controlling the
country via state institutions and the constitution, and through adopting a new
electoral law that suits Hezbollah but not its rivals or pluralism?
Lebanon is confronting a new and
unprecedented situation. There are two presidential candidates from the March 8
coalition, but Hezbollah - which leads this coalition - is at the top of the
list of those refusing to attend parliament sessions to elect a president. Is
there a farce bigger than this? Is there a clearer exposure of Iran’s role in
Khairallah Khairallah is an Arab columnist who was formerly Annahar’s
foreign editor (1976-1988) and Al-Hayat’s managing editor (1988-1998).
The international community’s failure to
bring the Syrian civil war to an end is a tragedy. In one respect, multilateral
action has had a clearly positive impact: The elimination of the Syrian
government’s chemical-weapons program. And yet there are persistent reports
that chemical weapons continue to be used in Syria.
The stakes could not be higher. The
perpetrators of these attacks must be identified and brought to justice.
Allowing the use of chemical weapons to go unpunished not only could reverse
one of the few promising developments in the Syrian conflict; it also threatens
to undermine international norms on the use of toxic gas and nerve agents,
increasing the possibility that they will be used in terrorist attacks.
In August 2013, rockets containing deadly
sarin gas struck Ghouta, a rebel-controlled suburb near Damascus. Horrific images
of women and children dying in agony mobilized international consensus against
the use of these types of weapons. In October 2013, following Syria’s accession
to the Chemical Weapons Convention, a joint mission of the Organization for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations was tasked with
eliminating the country’s chemical arsenal and production facilities.
Less than a year later, the mission
accomplished what no military intervention could have achieved; the strategic
threat from Syria’s chemical weapons was effectively eliminated. Work to
clarify certain aspects of the government’s initial declaration about its
weapons program is ongoing; but 1,300 metric tons of chemical weapons,
including sulfur mustard and precursors for deadly nerve agents, have been
accounted for and destroyed under the watchful eyes of OPCW inspectors.
This achievement must not be allowed to be
rolled back. The continued use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict is
not only causing terrible suffering among the country’s civilian population; it
also risks eroding the convention’s credibility.
A fact-finding mission established by the
OPCW in April 2014 found “compelling confirmation” that a toxic chemical — most
likely chlorine gas — was used “systematically and repeatedly” as a weapon in
villages in northern Syria. It was on the basis of these findings that the UN
Security Council agreed in August 2015 to create a joint investigative
mechanism of the OPCW and the UN and task it with identifying those responsible
for the use of chemical weapons in the conflict.
The fog of war cannot be allowed to create
a fog of responsibility. The perpetrators of chemical attacks must be held to
account, whoever they are.
Persistent allegations that non-state
actors are using chemical weapons in Syria and northern Iraq are of particular
concern. Manufacturing nerve agents is a complex process, but extremists can
easily deploy toxic industrial chemicals — such as chlorine gas — if they have
them in their possession. A conventional attack against a chemical facility is
another potentially devastating risk — one that is not beyond the capabilities
of a well-funded terrorist group.
Nearly two decades after the Chemical
Weapons Convention entered into force, the treaty is facing a major test. The
threat that toxic gas or nerve agents will be deployed in a conflict between
countries has been all but eliminated. Failure to punish their use in the
Syrian civil war risks undermining the regime that has brought us to the
threshold of a chemical weapons-free world.
Ahmet Uzumcu is Director-General at the Organization for the Prohibition
of Chemical Weapons. ©Project Syndicate