This past Friday, Sept. 27, the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a resolution demanding the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons. This resolution was triggered by the abhorrent sarin nerve gas attack in the spring in a Damascus suburb that left at least 1,400 people dead, according to NBC.
While Washington blames Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government for the attack, Syria and its ally Russia remain firm in their conviction that holds anti-government rebels responsible.
Earlier Friday, Sept. 27, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Executive Council prompted the U.N. Security Council vote by approving the plan that will eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.
Assad has agreed to destroy the weapons, and it has been made clear by both the U.S. and Russia that there will be consequences if orders are not followed. In a statement provided by CNN, President Obama announced this resolution “not only deters and prevents additional chemical use, but actually goes beyond what could have been accomplished through any military action.” This could be a potentially huge victory for the international community, as Obama previously expressed.
Secretary of State John Kerry also remains optimistic regarding this resolution, saying, “This resolution makes clear that those responsible for this heinous act must be held accountable.” He went on to elaborate that the world will have “eliminated one of the largest chemical weapon arsenals on earth” and referred to Syria as one of the most volatile places on the planet.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ensured the council that his country, a longtime ally of the Syrian government, is prepared to take action if the resolution is not obeyed. Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that, while only as part of an international coalition, his country is willing to transport and destroy Syrian chemical weapons, according to CNN.
Al-Jazeera America cites this resolution as the first time the U.N. Security Council has been able to pass a resolution regarding the Syrian conflict since it began nearly two years ago. The U.N. estimates that more than 100,000 people have died since March 2011, when the devastating and controversial civil war began.
As there have been three joint vetoes by Russia and China in the past two years, U.S. officials are counting this vote as a victory. After many private talks between Kerry and Lavrov to fully reach a consensus over the text, Lavrov stated that Moscow and Washington have “reached an understanding” on the draft.
While Obama and Kerry seem satisfied with the resolution, not everyone in Washington is supportive. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz)and Lindsey Graham (R- S.C.) are critical. In a joint statement, they call the resolution “another triumph over reality […] it contains no meaningful or immediate enforcement mechanisms.” They remain skeptical in their statement: “Assad and his forces will continue to slaughter tens of thousands of Syrian men, women, and children.”
The world awaits a continued resolution and hopes for a successful outcome to this tense situation.
Information from CNN, NBC News and The New York Times was used in this news report.