Tut-tutting over Syria's admission that it has chemical weapons

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad Photo: Sana Sana / Reuters

Some in the Western powers are making a big deal of the fact that the Assad regime has admitted having chemical weapons. The tut-tutting is perhaps a little disingenuous.

The admission was an implicit by-product of a welcome pledge by the regime never to gas the Syrian people.

That guarantee may have been an attempt by President Assad to say look I am not a madman.

He knows that if he did use gas or nerve agents the Russians and Chinese would abandon him and he would be labelled a war criminal with no prospect of going into exile with immunity.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said the army would not use chemical weapons to crush rebels on Monday Credit: Reuters

As things stand that prospect does still exist. Indeed the Arab League has just said that it would guarantee Assad a safe exit if he did choose to flee.

By comparison Col Gaddafi was labelled a war criminal early on during the Libyan conflict.

There are many who think that was a mistake because it closed the door on any hopes he might have had for negotiating a way out scot free.

Consequently of course he went down in flames, with all the death and destruction that entailed.

For now the door remains open for President Assad to get clean away. And distasteful though it might be it's probably the least bad scenario for Syria.