Three years after President Obama’s infamous “red line” threat to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, charges of chemical weapons use inside the war-torn country persist — in turn fueling concerns about whether Iran can be held to the newly struck nuclear deal.
Assad reportedly is developing a new type of chlorine bomb, and earlier this year investigators found trace components of sarin and VX, an extremely toxic manmade chemical nerve agent. This, despite a 2013 deal between the U.S. and Syria to purge Assad’s chemical weapon stockpile — a deal meant to de-escalate the standoff with the West after allegations he crossed Obama’s “red line” with chemical weapons.
As the anniversary of that warning hit, Obama’s foreign policy critics were quick to remind him of Assad’s defiance. “Three years ago today … President Obama made his infamous ‘red line’ comment. Assad subsequently ignored the president’s hollow warning,” GOP presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said in a statement Thursday. “President Obama’s meek response to this atrocity sent a devastatingly clear message of weakness to our enemies: you will not pay a price for defying our commander-in-chief.”
While Assad’s activities largely have been overshadowed by the Islamic State’s atrocities, the unresolved chemical weapons issue still hangs over the Iran nuclear debate today. Critics of the deal argue that if the administration is unable to enforce its highly touted chemical weapons pact with Syria’s leader, promises made about the strength of the nuclear deal with Iran should raise red flags.
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