Formerly the world’s most inept reporter, I knew deep down that if I ever did dare to write about the situation in Syria (Post: The Road to Damascus, September), events would immediately take a turn.
Parties on all sides, weary of wars either suffered or imposed, are falling about with relief at the latest Russian proposal, that the Syrian regime should simply hand over its chemical weapons arsenal, you know, the one they haven’t got, to an international team of destructors led by — Russia.
And the Syrians have immediately agreed to the plan, avoiding the punitive rain of cruise missiles threatened by Obama since they nerve-gassed fourteen hundred civilians in Damascus on 21 August. Or not. (The Russians are still claiming the civilians gassed their own children in order to bring America into the war. It’s the sort of thing Russians would do, of course — showing exemplary loyalty to the Motherland.)
Thus at one stroke Obama is off the Congressional hook he has been visibly writhing on, Cameron need no longer feel embarrassed about losing the vote, Hollande can stop pretending to be Jean-Claude van Damme, and Putin can go on smirking in that peculiar way that makes him look like he’s being punched in the jaw in slow-motion by a large man with an invisible fist.
So, that’s all right then. Panic over.
It has occurred to me to ask rhetorically, although I have not seen or heard it mentioned anywhere else, for what purpose Syria appears to have accumulated what is said to be a thousand tonnes of lethal Sarin nerve agent?
Prior to the civil war, Syria had only one putative enemy, Israel. Pop. eight million. By a ghastly statistical and historical irony, six million of those are Jews (figures courtesy of Wikipedia). If 200 litres can kill 1400 people, how many exactly would a thousand tonnes… you do the calculus. I can’t bear to.