Armas químicas (Continuación)

Guided-missile destroyer USS Porter firing a Tomahawk missile at Syria, April 7, 2017. Ford Williams/US Navy via Getty Images

For an American president, bombing is easier than thinking. For an American lawmaker or opinion-maker, it costs nothing to celebrate the resolve of a president who bombs. On the evening of April 6, Donald Trump reversed his apparent policy of declining to attack the Assad regime and fired fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian government airfield. The cause was a report that the Syrian air force had dropped a chemical bomb that killed at least seventy-two civilians. John McCain and Lindsey Graham—who have been among Trump’s most strident critics in the Republican Party, and who have long been calling for the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad—immediately applauded the action.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Syrian victim receives treatment on April 4 at a field hospital in Saraqib, Syria. (European Pressphoto Agency)

President Trump launched a cruise missile strike Thursday to punish the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad for the alleged use of chemical weapons. Assad’s apparent sarin attack represented yet another blow to the global norm prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. But the significant violation of the taboo in Syria is not likely to lead to the routine use of chemical weapons in future conflicts.

Syria represents the only open challenge to the norm against chemical weapons in more than 25 years. In the spring of 2013, the United States and France publicly alleged that sarin gas has been used in Syria.…  Seguir leyendo »

The bodies of people who Syrian rebels said were killed in a chemical weapons attack by government forces on Aug. 21, 2013. Credit Bassam Khabieh/Reuters

On Aug. 21, 2013, I woke up in the dark around 4:45 a.m., struggling to breathe. My eyes were burning, my head was throbbing, and my throat was blocked. I was suffocating.

I tried to inhale but all I heard was a horrible rasping sound as my throat closed up. An unbearable pain drummed in my head. The world began to blur. I pounded my chest but couldn’t breathe. My heart seemed about to explode.

Suddenly, my windpipe opened. A gust of air pierced my lungs. Needles seemed to stab my eyes. A searing pain clawed at my stomach. I doubled over and shouted to my roommates: “Wake up!…  Seguir leyendo »

USS Porter launching a missile strike.

President Trump’s decision to launch nearly 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles against Al Shayrat air base, from which the Syrian air force flew to drop chemical weapons on the town of Khan Sheikhoun earlier this week, was swift and purposeful. No doubt, the horrific nature of the attack moved him. But the United States response was clearly about sending messages to President Bashar al-Assad and his allies, as well as the international community: Chemical weapons will not be used with impunity.

To be sure, this American strike, which was targeted and designed to inflict significant damage on one air base in Syria, will also convey to the Iranians, and to the North Koreans, that they had better take the words of this administration seriously.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Donald J. Trump was right to strike at the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for using a weapon of mass destruction, the nerve agent sarin, against its own people. Mr. Trump may not want to be “president of the world” but when a tyrant blatantly violates a basic norm of international conduct — in this case, the ban on using chemical or biological weapons in armed conflict, put in place after World War I — the world looks to America to act. Mr. Trump did, and for that he should be commended.

The real test for Mr. Trump is what comes next.…  Seguir leyendo »

On March 25, an orthopedic surgeon named Ali Darwish was operating on a patient in a suburb of Hama, Syria, when two barrel bombs were dropped at the entrance of the underground hospital where he was working. Soon, a strong smell of chlorine spread throughout the hospital. The underground rooms, built to protect patients and medical personnel from aerial attacks, became de facto gas chambers.

As patients and staff workers fled, Dr. Darwish refused to leave his patient on the operating table. Without even minimal protective equipment, Dr. Darwish collapsed. By the time he was taken out of the hospital it was too late.…  Seguir leyendo »

El fracaso de la comunidad internacional para poner fin a la guerra civil siria es una tragedia, especialmente para los habitantes de ese país, que sufren desde hace tanto tiempo. En cierto sentido, la acción multilateral ha logrado un impacto claramente positivo: la eliminación del programa de armas químicas del gobierno sirio. Sin embargo, persisten los informes que indican que el uso de armas químicas —incluida la mostaza sulfurada (habitualmente conocida como gas mostaza) y las bombas de gas de cloro— continúa contra civiles en Siria.

No podría haber más en juego. Los causantes de esos ataques deben ser identificados y juzgados.…  Seguir leyendo »

Quelle est la menace d’un attentat perpétré, selon l’euphémisme employé par les spécialistes, avec des moyens « non conventionnels » ? Ce risque d’attentat avec des « armes chimiques ou bactériologiques », le premier ministre Manuel Valls ne s’en est pas caché jeudi 19 novembre, dans son discours devant l’Assemblée nationale sur la prolongation de l’état d’urgence : « Il ne faut aujourd’hui rien exclure. Je le dis bien sûr avec toutes les précautions qui s’imposent mais nous savons et nous l’avons à l’esprit. Il peut y avoir aussi le risque d’armes chimiques ou bactériologiques », a-t-il dit devant un hémicycle quasi comble.…  Seguir leyendo »

El arma química, amenaza real

A las 5 de la tarde del 22 de abril de 1915, durante la segunda Batalla de Ypres, los alemanes abrían las espitas de 6.000 bombonas que previamente habían desplegado a lo largo de una línea de unos 7 kilómetros. Las tropas aliadas francesas, que vieron avanzar el gas amarillo verdoso, pensaron que se trataba de una nube de agente fumígeno, empleado para ocultar el avance de las tropas de infantería, táctica habitual en la guerra de trincheras en la Primera Guerra Mundial. En realidad estaban siendo atacadas con 168 toneladas de cloro, un gas irritante de las vías respiratorias, que causaría miles de bajas entre las filas aliadas.…  Seguir leyendo »

It was the use of chemical weapons in Syria – in the shape of a horrendous attack in the suburbs of Damascus in the summer of 2013 – that first stirred the world to action. Under a Russian/American deal, reached with United Nations support, the bulk of President Bashar al-Assad’s stockpile of sarin and other chemical warfare components has been satisfactorily dealt with under international supervision.

But now another horror has emerged – the use of chlorine. Tests conducted for this newspaper last month by a retired British army colonel, Hamish de Bretton Gordon, who now runs a chemical weapons consultancy, showed the presence of chlorine and ammonia in samples taken from the scene of eight recent attacks in the north-west of Syria.…  Seguir leyendo »

“That prize should have been given to me,” joked Syrian President Bashar Assad shortly after the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Oct. 11. The guests gathered in his palace in Damascus presumably laughed, out of courtesy to their host, but they all knew that giving up Syria’s chemical weapons hadn’t been Assad’s idea at all.

Al-Akhbar, the Beirut newspaper that reported Assad’s remarks, has close links with Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia that is supported by Syria and Iran, and it accepted Assad’s regret about the new turn of events at face value.…  Seguir leyendo »

Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal has rightly galvanized international attention. The chemical attacks against civilians have prompted Russia and the United States to put aside diplomatic tensions to devise a plan to eliminate the Syrian regime’s stockpiles. And the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which has been tasked with executing the Russian-U.S. plan, has just been awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Obviously the dangers that such weapons pose do not end in Syria. In addition to the possibility of governments launching chemical attacks against their own people, there is the risk of terrorists using toxic agents, as they did in Iraq in 2007.…  Seguir leyendo »

Con el plan de Rusia y Estados Unidos para la destrucción de las armas químicas sirias (encarnado ahora en la Resolución 2118 del Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas), puede ser que la búsqueda de un final a la guerra civil tome un rumbo más constructivo, ya que el Consejo de Seguridad también demanda que se celebre cuanto antes la largamente planeada segunda conferencia de Ginebra sobre Siria. Y con razón: la eliminación de los arsenales químicos de Siria debe ir de la mano de un proceso político que ponga fin a la guerra.

En primer lugar, por razones prácticas: ningún intento de verificar, asegurar y, finalmente, destruir el enorme arsenal de armas químicas con que cuenta Siria será viable si no se logra, por lo menos, un alto el fuego duradero.…  Seguir leyendo »

El pasado 27 de septiembre la ONU logró ponerse de acuerdo: la resolución 2118 anuncia la destrucción del arsenal químico de Bashar el Asad. Si no respeta sus compromisos, habrá sanciones. Pero siempre que Moscú no se oponga. En pocas palabras, los 110.000 muertos, los dos millones de refugiados y los cinco millones de desplazados no cuentan para nada. Bashar el Asad se presenta al mundo con las manos limpias, la conciencia tranquila y la victoria asegurada. Incluso se permite cerrar la puerta a los europeos en la futura conferencia llamada Ginebra-2 que tendrá lugar a mediados de noviembre. Es un hombre satisfecho.…  Seguir leyendo »

L’épisode syrien, qui, au niveau de la pratique de la guerre, reste un fait divers, a ramené l’attention du public sur les armes chimiques et biologiques. Depuis une utilisation systématique de gaz au cours de la Première Guerre mondiale de 1914-1918, une indignation légitime à leur égard s’est manifestée. Elle a abouti à un accord sur leur élimination dès 1922. Des emplois sporadiques ont eu lieu durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, pour aboutir, dans les années 50, à un accord quasi universel de ne plus recourir à ces armes et de les éliminer. La Syrie fait partie des quelques pays qui ne l’ont pas signé en réaction à l’absence de destruction des armes de cette nature possédées par les grandes puissances, dont les Etats-Unis.…  Seguir leyendo »

The agreement between the United States and Russia to rid Syria of chemical weapons should please — but also terrify — anyone hoping to return the United Nations to relevance. After the ugly, ignominious train crash of the United Nations’ inspections process in Iraq a decade ago, the question is whether the United Nations can deliver both international legitimacy and a genuine prospect for peace.

Syria’s suffering did not begin with the Assad regime’s criminal use of chemical weapons — and it won’t end with their removal. The timeline that Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey V.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le secrétaire d'Etat américain John Kerry a rendu le débat houleux sur l'intervention en Syrie caduque avec sa gaffe apparente lors d'une conférence de presse à Londres. Afin d'éviter une attaque sur la Syrie, le président syrien Bachar Al-Assad doit simplement remettre ses armes chimiques au plus vite. La Russie, la Syrie et les Nations unies ont tous sauté sur l'aubaine diplomatique quand ils ont vu un moyen facile de sortir de la crise, alors que M. Kerry considère qu'Al-Assad "n'est pas sur le point de le faire et ceci ne peut être fait".

De vastes questions pratiques concernant le déclassement de la plus grande réserve d'armes chimiques au Moyen-Orient se posent, y compris les difficultés d'accès aux sites dans une zone de guerre , le fait que l'Organisation pour l'interdiction des armes chimiques (OIAC) n'a ni le personnel ni les moyens de procéder à une telle opération, et les énormes doutes quant à savoir si Assad serait honnête pour donner l'intégralité de son arsenal chimique.…  Seguir leyendo »

A chemical weapons pact written in desperation is wasted ink

Secretary of State John F. Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, announced a deal last weekend that is supposed to make the Syrian problem go away, or rather, make Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons go away. Or at least disappear President Obama’s immediate political problem with breached red lines and an America with no appetite for war with Syria in response.

The bottom line: It isn’t going to happen. The only question is: Will this deal actually make things worse in any, or all, of those respects?

The old axiom, “You want it bad, you’ll get it bad,” applied to the three days of fevered bilateral negotiations in Geneva that produced the so-called “plan” for international control and dismantling of the entire Syrian chemical arsenal.…  Seguir leyendo »

Podemos discutir tanto los motivos para justificar la intervención militar en Siria como la identidad de los participantes o sus objetivos.

El uso de armas químicas en Damasco parece ya confirmado; no está tan claro de quién es la responsabilidad. Los Gobiernos occidentales habían anunciado que esa era la línea roja que les empujaría, de manera automática, a una intervención militar.Una condición como esa no tiene más remedio que suscitar manipulaciones y provocaciones, y la historia de las guerras está llena de episodios de este tipo: acusar de actos así a uno de los beligerantes permite convertirle en objeto de oprobio y, como consecuencia, deshacerse de él.…  Seguir leyendo »

A little-known truth about the Iraq war has much to tell us — positive and negative — about the prospects of dealing diplomatically with Syria’s chemical weapons. The inspections carried out by the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were anything but the fool’s mission pooh-poohed by the Bush administration. In fact, they were a striking international success.

The story most Americans remember is that Saddam Hussein turned out not to have nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs. He had had them, all right, but U.N. inspectors had found and largely dismantled them before the war. From 1991 to 1998, the U.N.…  Seguir leyendo »