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Russia's new Syria plan could turn 'quagmire into an easy win'

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But if the idea comes together it might allow the US to claim a more thorough destruction of Syria's weapons of mass destruction than would be otherwise possible. It would also lessen the stakes for upcoming congressional votes on whether to authorize a Syria attack. Syria, for its part, might avoid any chance of President Obama ordering a strike on Syrian infrastructure with US ordnance.

“If this offer is actually on the table, the US should take it – turns a quagmire into an easy win,” tweeted Daniel Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

The chain of events began early in London early Monday when Secretary Kerry mentioned to reporters that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could avoid the possibility of US strikes by surrendering “every single bit” of his chemical weapon arsenal to the international community within days. Kerry added that he did not believe Assad would do that or, indeed, that such a turnover was even possible.

Hours later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov picked up the idea, and said publicly that Russia would push its ally Syria to turn over its chemical weapons, and that Moscow would help the destruction effort.

Things moved quickly from there. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid-al-Moallem “embraced the proposal,” according to an Associated Press report. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he thought it was a good idea.

“I’m considering urging the Security Council to demand the immediate transfer of Syria’s chemical weapons and chemical precursor stocks to places inside Syria where they can be safely stored and destroyed,” said the UN chief.

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