The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on Saturday it had "received the expected disclosure" from Damascus, 24 hours after saying it had been given a partial document from Syrian authorities.You may remember that John Kerry laid out the timetable last week, and said in no unequivocal terms that the United States planned to hold Syria to it. Seems like the pressure is working as Syria meets the first deadline. Optimism - if guarded - is in order.
It said it was reviewing the information, handed over after President Bashar al-Assad agreed to destroy Syria's chemical weapons in the wake of a sarin gas strike in Damascus's suburbs last month - the world's deadliest chemical attack in 25 years.
Seeing President Obama's tough but fair stand on Syria, Iran too wants to jump into the window of opportunity. Iran's new president has been exchanging letters with Obama, in the hopes that if Iran curbs its nuclear program and submits it to international inspection to ensure abandonment of its nuclear weapons ambition.
The adviser, who participated in top-level discussions of the country’s diplomatic strategy, said that Mr. Obama’s letter, delivered to Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, about three weeks ago, promised relief from sanctions if Tehran demonstrated a willingness to “cooperate with the international community, keep your commitments and remove ambiguities.”It seems that the Iranians are taking heed, as the White House opened door to a meeting between Iran's new president Hassan Rouhani at the UN's general assembly meeting in New York with cautious optimism. President Obama confirmed the exchange of letters, and Secretary of State Kerry and Press Secretary Jay Carney expressed hope with a reminder that Iran's compliance must be verifiable:
“I think Rouhani’s comments have been very positive, but everything needs to be put to the test,” Kerry said when asked if there would be a meeting. “We’ll see where we go. And at the right moment, I think the White House and the State Department will make clear where we’re headed.” [...]Again, any optimism should be guarded, but there is reason for optimism. President Obama is able to do something that no American president has been able to do since 1980: talk to, and not past, with the government of Iran - and do so in American terms. To say that this is likely a repercussion of the president's unprecedented success in getting Syria to consent to disarming would be stating the obvious.
“I would say that we obviously notice a significant change in language and tone from the new Iranian government when compared to its predecessor,” Carney said Thursday. “It’s rather dramatic. But it’s important when we’re talking about this incredibly serious matter of a nuclear weapons program that we not just take Iran’s words for it, that we — that we back it up and if it’s — if it’s real.”
But the fact of the matter is that leaders of governments - from our friends to our foes - universally see a president who is willing to make a break with past precedence of always being on war footing and preferring bombs to talks, but who is tough as nail and will not hesitate to rain down the consequences on anyone who crosses him on the world stage. They see an American president whose goal is peace but who isn't afraid to use force. They see an American president who is fair in his intention to reach verifiable peaceful solutions but strong in his ability and willingness to protect the United States and American interests.
The world sees Barack Obama as someone who is tough but fair, peace-loving but resolute. This is the expression of American power that is beginning to make the dominoes fall. First Syria, now Iran, and maybe soon a breakthrough an Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
These aren't accidents of history. These aren't just luck. These are the results of a president who truly believes in the power of our ideas and not just the power of our weapons, in the fairness of our diplomacy and not just the might of our military. These are the results of the world recognizing in Barack Obama not just a messenger of peace but an activist for it.