Nevertheless, the reality of the rebels continuing to obstruct the peace talks is now reemerging as a threat to the success of any plan for the Syrian government to turn over and destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles.
The idea of identifying the locations where the poison gas is stored and sending international inspectors to remove the material for destruction could invite rebel jihadists to launch attacks with the goal of intercepting the chemical weapons for use against government troops or for the extermination of Alawite and Christian communities. There have already been reports from Syria that some rebel units have obtained chemical weapons either from overrunning government bases or from outside sources. I'm told that U.S. intelligence analysts believe there may be some truth to those reports.
The rebels also stand to lose if the plan for destroying the Syrian government's chemical weapons succeeds -- because that would eliminate the most likely provocation for the U.S. military to intervene on the side of the rebels.
So, if negotiations over the Syrian government surrendering its stockpiles appear to be making progress, the rebels could exert something of a veto by making it too dangerous for international inspectors to do the job of removing the weapons from secure facilities and moving them by truck or other means to sites where the weapons can be destroyed.
By sabotaging that process -- and relying on the bias of the U.S. mainstream media to frame the story in a way to put the onus on Assad and the Russians -- the rebels could put the possibility of a devastating U.S. military strike back on the table.
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