CNN speaks with Fareed about the latest developments over Syria’s chemical weapons.
Is there a distinction between a timeline and a deadline on tackling Syria’s chemical weapons, because Secretary of State John Kerry says time is quickly running out.
I think the most important thing to think about is not so much the distinction between a timeline or a deadline, but what that really involves. Is there a trigger? Is there some kind of automatic trigger that says if the Syrians don’t comply, cooperate by a certain date, then it can get referred – the issue can get referred to the Security Council?
And that implies that the Security Council might authorize the use of force. You see, that's the crucial issue. What Kerry is trying to do is create some mechanism by which there is an automatic trigger. And what the Russians are trying to do is to ensure that there is none, that there is no automatic trigger.
So my guess is they're going to keep fighting about this. But the crucial issue is, at some point, do you cross a line of noncompliance, which sets off some kind of consequence?
When all is said and done, the continued denials from the Bashar al-Assad regime and from the Russians that Syria was directly responsible for launching those chemical attacks against their own people, will it really make much of a difference if in fact – and it's a huge if – if the Syrians go ahead and describe all of their chemical weapons stockpiles, say where they are, and go ahead and begin the process of destroying them?
It's a very good point.
We have gotten kind of hung up on this. Of course, the Syrians are lying. Of course, the Assad regime is lying. The U.N. report is very clear in describing the sophistication with which these weapons were used. And it's highly unlikely that the opposition could do this. This is a bunch of ragtag rebels, insurgents, in many cases highly decentralized.
What was used here was a fairly sophisticated weapon used in a sophisticated way. But who cares? As Bill Clinton said to me in the interview that I did which is coming up on Sunday, who cares about all this if going forward we have this, the Syrians are now admitting that they have chemical weapons? They are telling us they will tell us where they are and they will assist in their destruction.
Even if it doesn't destroy all of it, even if they don't identify all of it, this is a huge step forward if your concern was dealing with chemical weapons. If your concern was getting rid of Assad, that's a whole different discussion.