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In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, center, greets his supporters after he attended prayers on the first day of Eid al-Adha, at the Sayeda Hassiba mosque, in Damascus, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013.
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, center, greets his supporters after he attended prayers on the first day of Eid al-Adha, at the Sayeda Hassiba mosque, in Damascus, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013.
(Associated Press)

Stephen Starr

How Syria’s Assad used chemical weapons to dupe the West again

The Syrian government has a history of coming out on top even as it appears to have conceded important ground.

In 2005, the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri was killed by a huge car bomb in Beirut. Syria and its backers inside Lebanon were blamed. It was a watershed moment: hundreds of thousands of Lebanese gathered in a central Beirut square to protest Syria’s presence in the country and the Syrian army was forced to end the 29-year occupation of its tiny neighbour.