The Obama administration may have known that it failed to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons well in advance of Tuesday’s deadly attack.
In the wake of the recent chemical weapons that killed innocent civilians, including women and children, observers immediately recalled former President Barack Obama’s 2013 deal, which allowed the president to back down from his red line on chemical weapons, and the administration’s comments in the aftermath.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry stated in 2014 that the Obama administration “got 100 percent of the declared chemical weapons out of Syria.” Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice commented in January that the president and his team were “able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile.”
At the time, fact-checking site Poltifact reported that the administration’s comments were “mostly true;” however, the site has since re-evaluated its assessment. “Either Syria never fulling complied with its 2013 promise to reveal all of its chemical weapons; or it did, but then converted otherwise non-lethal chemicals to military uses.”
“One way or another, subsequent events have proved Kerry wrong,” the site explained.
There is evidence that suggests that the Obama administration knew Syria still had chemical weapons yet misled the public anyway, according to The American Interest.
In response to the recent chemical weapons attack allegedly carried out by the Syrian regime, the Trump administration launched strikes on the Syrian airbase that facilitated the attack.
“There were measures put in place to avoid hitting what we believe is a storage of sarin gas,” National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster said in his statement on the strikes. His statement hinted at some prior knowledge of the chemical weapons situation in Syria.
The Obama administration indicated on multiple occasions that it knew that the 2013 deal had failed to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.
Noting “gaps and inconsistencies in Syria’s declaration,” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before Congress last year that he believed the Syrian regime still had chemical weapons. “We assess that Syria has not declared all the elements of its chemical weapons program to the Chemical Weapons Convention,” he explained.
The Department of the Treasury introduced new sanctions on Syria in January, citing the continued use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.
It is unclear whether the previous administration was aware of the chemical weapons facility at the air base, but it does appear that the Obama administration knew that Syria had not been completely forthcoming in its chemical weapons declarations. The previous administration touted its ability to achieve the removal of chemical weapons without the use of force, but their celebrations may have been premature.
The recent chemical weapons attack in Syria appears to be a byproduct of a major problem that was improperly addressed during the Obama administration.
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