Zakaria: Syria deal huge step forward on chemical weapons
September 20th, 2013
12:23 AM ET

Zakaria: Syria deal huge step forward on chemical weapons

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.

More from CNN: Is Syria hopeless?

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.

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Topics: Syria

soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Abul Moniruzzaman

    Syria has turned a pink-pong game, each is pushing the responsibility to the others, and none is certain who has done this brutal attack on innocent and unarmed civilian population. This is clearly a non-sense act, and anti-humanitarian act. The world needs to help the Syria to come out of this deadly friendly fighting between brothers, all parties have to sit together to discuss a possible acceptable solutions. I am worried about the direction middle-east is moving, the naughty factions will try to get benefit out of this instability, and that would be dangerous for the peace loving people in the world.

    Allah helps the world and it’s human!!!

    September 20, 2013 at 1:14 am | Reply
    • Sure

      Allah apparently sponsored and approved 9/11's outcome so you ought to rethink including Allah in your little speech about peace.

      September 20, 2013 at 8:12 am | Reply
      • Mr. Black

        "Allah apparently sponsored and approved 9/11's outcome"

        According to whom? The bad guys?

        September 20, 2013 at 8:28 am |
      • kahnkeller

        I find it most humorous... when religious fanatics want to "thank " an all powerful and all knowing god for...some little good thing... and then they get offended if you point out that the major disaster could only have come with the approval of that same ...all powerful and all knowing god.... note to religious extremist: you can not have it both ways....

        September 20, 2013 at 8:35 am |
      • cwiz

        @ Sure: I'm a Christian, but I find it offensive that you disrespect Abul Moniruzzaman simply because of his religion. The Islamic faith is naturally peaceful. Every religion has their fanatics. It's ignorance and hatred stemming from people like you that perpetuate conflict.

        September 20, 2013 at 9:54 am |
      • Connie

        Ignorance and hatred are all in the past to the issue. Terrorists and other criminals all use some sense of religion to validate their actions once completed as opposed to before the act, because usually when the act is done everyone asks why it happened in the first place. That is when the idea comes up that says God let this happen and so it was meant to me.

        One more thing: Allah is an Arabic word with the literal meaning "God."

        September 20, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • Trevor Bryant of Flagstaff, AZ

      You know what allah also approved of? The 900,000 Muslims that directly died when we retaliated against you, and the 5 million+ (and counting) that died indirectly, as a result of us having to walk in there. Oh, btw, it is PING pong, troll

      September 20, 2013 at 10:43 am | Reply
    • Mervyn Norton in Canada

      Another case of criminals betraying their own lies. If Syria and Russia really believed the rebels used chemical weapons, they would have insisted in negotiations what the rebels also report and turn over their stockpiles. They didn't raise this because they knew that only Syria has the weapons. But I haven't heard any commentator raise this yet.

      September 20, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Reply
  2. Abul Moniruzzaman

    The tough question on Syria is what evidence the world has to blame a group or the other about brutal chemical attach on innocent children and Syrian people? The world has to give attention here, I am sure there is clue that will lead us to the perpetrator.

    September 20, 2013 at 1:29 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Assad's strategy is to mobilise a media war against the West. He invited the Fox News to Damascus, making sure that all Syrians watched his interview, hoping also to reach Americans who hate the left-leaning media, favouring Obama. How pathetic!

      September 20, 2013 at 7:50 am | Reply
      • Bill Bo

        You do know they had Charlie Rose there 2 weeks ago. So they had the left leaning media there first. Try and keep up.

        September 20, 2013 at 7:58 am |
      • j. von hettlingen

        please read: the so called left-leaning media.
        Assad is lying, even his staunch allies in Moscow and Tehran know about it. That Russia throws its weight behind Assad, has less to do with defending him. It's more an act of defiance to the West, putting Russia in the centre of world affairs.

        September 20, 2013 at 8:21 am |
  3. Chukwuemeka

    I agree with Abul in the helplessness of the middle east in tackling the problem of Syria. Perhaps its a function of the region being made of different ethnic groups all fighting for survival and resisting systemic annihilation. During the process of dismantling the chemical weapons would the government sincerely point out the storage locations and facilities? After the decommissioning what would happen with the war? Is the security council truely interested in establishing peace in the country and the region? Who are the members of the security council benefiting from the arms race? Are we not arming all the sides in the region to the point the could decide to attack their supposed common enemy (Israel)? Then what next? World war III.

    September 20, 2013 at 1:57 am | Reply
  4. cgs

    Lying? Ya think? Duuuhhhh!!!!!

    September 20, 2013 at 2:16 am | Reply
    • Connie

      Do not jump on the political assassination bandwagon just yet. The real conflict in Syria is who we really want in control of the nation; a politically experienced dictator like Bashar, or a pack of civil militants who are not equipped to restore their government when/if they overthrow the regime.

      September 20, 2013 at 10:27 am | Reply
  5. sand

    if the usa britain and russia are so strong they should start a fight against a big country like china that woul be fun to see the chinese nuke the mother out of all of them when that 5 megaton nuke hits moscow new york or london all of them will get reduced to dust in 20/1 of a second.

    September 20, 2013 at 2:46 am | Reply
    • opinion

      My advice for you is to go and see a doctor in your country or any of the countries mentioned enjoy the life no matter how tough it is and leave politics to others.

      September 20, 2013 at 3:24 am | Reply
    • Steve

      8 out of 5 Americans don't understand math...

      September 20, 2013 at 7:25 am | Reply
      • kahnkeller

        ouch.... ouch...ouch....

        September 20, 2013 at 8:37 am |
      • ✠RZ✠

        8 out of 5 you say ? 8 out of 5? Well, by my calculations that comes out to 160%. Ouch is right!

        September 20, 2013 at 9:40 am |
      • Connie

        You think mathematic comprehension is a problem? Try statistics! Einstein could never do statistics!!!

        September 20, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • thedoctor

      And would it "be fun..." to watch the US & Britain vaporize China and have huge clouds of radioactive material drift over your country? Is it "fun" now?

      September 20, 2013 at 9:43 am | Reply
  6. Jim Herr

    Politicians lie? The USA has no vested interest in Syria. Obama is wagging the dog. Take care of things at home, and take responsibility for Benghazi.

    September 20, 2013 at 6:10 am | Reply
    • Connie

      Benghazi? What happened in Benghazi?

      September 20, 2013 at 10:28 am | Reply
    • stan

      That's not true. When the CIA performed their very first coup in Syria 1949 it was so that the puppet they installed would authorize the Trans-Arabian Pipleline (TAPLINE). The USA does not threaten war unless some kind of corporate interest is at stake. Read 'War is a Racket' by Major General Smedley Butler. Uncle Sam has become the proverbial Emperor with no clothes.

      September 20, 2013 at 10:54 am | Reply
  7. mfh

    He is lying according to who? According to the gov of America? The UN? Well, now they don't lie do they? Truth is, either Assad or the rebels used saran. Neither is friends of America, freedom, woman or tolerance. Neither should be in control of Syria. Its a lose lose proposition.

    September 20, 2013 at 7:37 am | Reply
  8. 100 % ETHIO

    Who else telling LIES, nowadays?

    The Holly Bible telling us, Jewish are denial. And they let Christ to be attacked by DEVIL.

    Jew = Devil.

    Who do we trust?

    September 20, 2013 at 7:51 am | Reply
    • john

      Barack, is that you?

      September 20, 2013 at 8:32 am | Reply
    • BeJust101

      Up until you will blame Jews or anybody else for the problems of your own, you will continue to be a miserable loser. Try faith and love as Jesus said, and you would have better chances.

      September 20, 2013 at 8:40 am | Reply
  9. joe

    Its highly unlikely that 19 terrorists could cooperate to simultaneously hijack 4 airliners using nothing but box cutters, fly them into buildings, kill 3000 people, destroy billions of dollars in property and initiate a response from the US that would start two decade long wars.

    That highly unlikely stuff somehow no longer seems very reassuring when used to discount the capabilities of terrorists.

    September 20, 2013 at 8:03 am | Reply
  10. Terry

    These nonstop "articles" are to convince Americans that we should intervene. We should not in any way.

    September 20, 2013 at 8:30 am | Reply
    • Connie

      Some would like to think it is that simple. Unfortunately, world economics are directly tied to middle eastern nations. If we do not have a working relationship with them, poverty and unemployment will still be persistent problems at home.

      September 20, 2013 at 10:30 am | Reply
  11. john

    So thankful we have Fareed on our side. He's an expert on everything, I guess there's no way that al Qaeda elements within the rebel camp couldn't possible be at fault. After all, Fareed says so.

    Just another hack who let's his politics cloud his "journalistic integrity." Zakaria's talking points come straight from Kerry. What a joke!

    September 20, 2013 at 8:31 am | Reply
  12. ✠RZ✠

    Yes Abul, politicians can certainly be professional liars and experts at avoiding the real issues, the truth, and blame. But what's interesting is that the media is now crying that Assad is moving his weapons around. Well, gee, if that's good enough reason to attack then they might as well be targeting most every politician and military. And start by lookng in the mirror! However, with the president of Iran now fashioning himself after Vlado and openly reaching out, it is in itself a significant and unprecedented event. We have also seen signs of the two Koreas talking, somewhat. The agenda to starve financing for war by brokering peace is simply brilliant. The cardboard sign on the fence of the whitehouse reads War or Bust. And by the looks of things, I will not be surprised to see the fed shut down come Oct 1st.

    September 20, 2013 at 8:33 am | Reply
  13. tv22

    Fareed knows this. I know this. Most of the posters know this.

    But Kerry and Obama don't. Sad.

    September 20, 2013 at 9:18 am | Reply
    • Connie

      Do not be so quick to judge. Both Obama and Kerry have the CIA feeding them every juicy detail about Putin, Assad, and the Syrian rebels. Nothing they do is without precedent. Besides, why do you think Iran is starting to get chummy with the white house?

      September 20, 2013 at 10:38 am | Reply
  14. JAL

    Thank you for your efforts Fareed. I think your reporting makes a difference.

    September 20, 2013 at 9:37 am | Reply
  15. Ricke1949

    Keep us out. Let the people who have an interest support whomever. We are bleeding financially and on the battlefield.

    September 20, 2013 at 9:39 am | Reply
    • Connie

      That is exactly why we need to intervene. American economy is not self-contained, we do extensive trade with nations all over the world, and most notably in the middle east. They are already an unstable region of the world without Israel's interpersonal woes. We need them, much as I hate to admit it.

      September 20, 2013 at 10:36 am | Reply
  16. Ricke1949

    What is the difference between a professional liar and a politician.
    A: None

    September 20, 2013 at 9:40 am | Reply
    • Connie

      B: The politicians hire the professional liar to teach them how to lie.

      Let's face it, half of the GOP cannot even pass along a message without implying ulterior motives.

      September 20, 2013 at 10:33 am | Reply
  17. Themistocles

    Sharia shall surmount every barrier, and Zakaria shall be ze carrier!

    September 20, 2013 at 9:41 am | Reply
  18. Spgfld Tom

    Hate to say it, but I have more trust in Assad than I do with Obama and John Kerry? Obama should be thanking his lucky stars that Putin pulled his chestnuts out of the fire on Syria! Now the Prez can focus on the important stuff....amnesty for 11 million criminals, requiring Transgender restrooms in Elementary schools and golfing with JayZ.

    September 20, 2013 at 9:47 am | Reply
  19. palintwit

    Sarah Palin is hosting another book signing event this weekend. Tens of people are expected to show up.

    September 20, 2013 at 10:17 am | Reply
  20. PeterD

    Didn't FZ lied initially for his article and when got caught being plagiarism then he appologised.

    September 20, 2013 at 11:01 am | Reply
  21. Lil MG

    Im Going To Be Big

    September 20, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Reply

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