From the Los Angeles Times:
WASHINGTON – The U.S.-Russian plan for the removal or destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, hailed as a diplomatic breakthrough just days ago, appeared to run into trouble Wednesday as the Obama administration backed off a deadline for the Syrian government to submit a full inventory of its toxic stockpiles and facilities to international inspectors.
The State Department signaled that it does not expect Syrian President Bashar Assad to produce the list within seven days, as spelled out in the framework deal that Washington and Moscow announced last weekend in Geneva.
Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, said Wednesday that “our goal is to see forward momentum” by Saturday, not the full list. “We’ve never said it was a hard and fast deadline.”
There’s a playbook for these kinds of things and it looks like the Syrians will follow it to perfection. Exploiting the combination of bureaucratic inertia and diplomatic indulgence, they’ll drag every step of the process out as a long as they can, all the while watching the Western will to respond decline.
They know President Obama was simply looking for an escape hatch from his “red line” commitment and that actually implementing the plan is superfluous to the political needs of all parties involved. Be prepared for a very long and embarrassing dance.