Koch Chemicals Syria

Maddocks: Koch Industries becomes unwitting buyer of Syria’s chemical weapons
A seemingly uninvolved bystander to the crisis in Syria, Koch Industries, the giant privately held conglomerate, has suddenly found itself on the buying end of a multibillion-dollar purchase of the country’s chemical weapons arsenal.


A seemingly uninvolved bystander to the crisis in Syria, Koch Industries, the giant privately held conglomerate, has suddenly found itself on the buying end of a multibillion-dollar purchase of the country’s chemical weapons arsenal.
No one, including Koch, seems able to explain how the Kansas-based multinational became the buyer of the dangerous weapons, but the news the company had struck a deal received an immediate welcome from Syria, Russia, the United Nations, key American allies and even some Republicans, who saw the sale as a possible way out of a major international military showdown.
“We’re so glad that Koch Industries is able to step forward and provide us with a roadmap out of this humanitarian and political crisis,” said Speaker John Boehner.
“Any deal that brings stability to the Middle East and involves a private-sector solution is something Congress can and should get behind,” he added.
Secretary of State John Kerry – whose offhand suggestion that Syria could avert an American attack by relinquishing its chemical weapons seems to have unleashed a torrent of fast-moving and inexplicable events – said he welcomed the participation of Koch Industries even though he has yet to be invited to speak at any of the gatherings organized by the company’s leaders.
“We see this as a positive – if somewhat bizarre – step in the march toward peace in the region,” Mr. Kerry said. “Though we can’t say with any certainty where this deal came from and whose idea it was, it would be foolish not to give it a chance.”
A top White House national security official, Tony Blinken, said the Obama administration is eagerly embracing the Koch deal. But even as the president was insisting that Koch would never have become an unwitting buyer of Syria’s chemical weapon arsenal without the threat of military action by the U.S., it is difficult to see how any of the events of the previous weeks had led to the purchase agreement.
The international community, for its part, simply seemed relieved that a deal was in place, and it showed little interest in exploring how it had come about.
“If the establishment of Koch Industries control over chemical weapons in the country will prevent attacks, then we will immediately begin work with them,” Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, said.
As Koch Industries scrambled to figure out how it had become a central figure in the Syrian crisis, world leaders heaped praise on the international business, pledging full support of its efforts and promising military backup if necessary.
In quick succession, the idea of sequestering Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile in the hands of Koch Industries was endorsed by Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and France foreign minister, Laurent Fabius.

Mr. Ban said he might propose a formal resolution to the Security Council, which has been paralyzed over how to deal with the Syria crisis from the beginning.
Mr. Cameron told lawmakers in London that if Syria handed over its chemical weapons arsenal to Koch “it would be hugely welcome,” news agencies in Britain reported.
Mr. Fabius of France, whose government had joined with President Obama’s administration in pressing for military intervention, also welcomed the American conglomerate’s proposition, but said Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad must “commit without delay” to close the sale and place all chemical munitions under “Koch control.” In a statement, Mr. Fabius also called for a Security Council resolution that would carry the threat of “firm consequences” for noncompliance and the pledge of a shareholder dividend once the weapons are transferred to Koch.
In a statement relayed to the French wire service Agence France-Presse, a Koch Industries spokeswoman, Melissa Cohlmia, struggled to make sense of how Koch ended up on the buying end of a deal for Syria’s chemical weapons, saying that for all of the Koch companies’ “innovative and cost-effective ways, it remains at a loss to explain how it wound up in the middle of a world crisis.”
For William Hague, the British foreign secretary, whose government has already ruled out participation in a military strike on Syria, Koch’s unexpected deal with Syria was an opportunity to affirm British support for the company, which he hailed as Britain’s most important ally.
“Our government supports their objective, whatever it might be,” Mr. Hague said, “because in these uncertain times, you need all the uncertain allies you can get.”
Philip Maddocks writes a weekly satirical column. He can be reached at pmaddocks@wickedlocal.com.

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