• Background: After three years of conflict, the civil war in Syria continues. Millions of refugees have fled the country, thousands have died and chemical weapons have been used.
The U.S. and Russia negotiated a framework to remove all of Syria's chemical weapons by the end of April but recent questions about Syria’s intentions and timeline regarding its declaration have been raised.
Despite a diplomatic solution to disarming Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, the civil war carries on without near-term hope of stopping. Meanwhile, violence may break out in neighboring countries due to the instability caused from the large refugee influx.
• What It Means: In Washington, Syria is broken into two issues: the civil war and chemical weapons.
The civil war continues to push millions of Syrians into neighboring countries where infrastructure and resources are limited, at best, but mostly nonexistent. In Lebanon, serious concerns have been raised about the potential for the crisis to trigger violence in the fragile peace that has recently been obtained.
Sixty-five percent of Syria's chemical weapons have been exported for destruction and the remainder is scheduled to be removed by the end of the month. Despite concerns about the declaration, the continued diplomatic engagement between the U.S., Russia, Syria and others over this issue offers some hope for global arms control efforts and a future peaceful Syria.
• What to Look for: The big date is April 30th that will decide if the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the UN and Syria can meet the revised deadline for shipping the chemicals out of Syria.
Secondly, the diplomatic tango related to concerns about the honesty of the declaration will have lasting implications of global arms control and any future Syrian peace talks.