Syria and the Chemical Weapon Hype

In any conversation about the civil war raging in Syria, it’s hard to avoid the temptation to veer off into the fact that the West is actively arming and funding the Free Syrian Army (FSA) which comprised primarily of Sunni and Wahhabi extremists (aka Al-Qaeda).  It’s equally difficult to restrain from discussing the many documented atrocities that have been committed by the so-called freedom fighters of the FSA.  But, rather than go down that road I want to focus on the specific topic of chemical weapons in Syria.

Recent days have seen a firestorm in the mainstream media.  We’re told that Syria has ‘crossed the red line’ and used chemical weapons against civilians.  Specifically, the Syrian army is alleged to have used some nerve agent (supposedly sarin) in two incidents towards the end of March in Damascus and Aleppo.  The originating source of these allegations is a report from the British Ministry of Defense indicating that is has received soil samples that tested positive for some unspecified chemical weapon.  In addition there are reports from the ‘Syrian American Medical Society’ that it has evidence of chemical weapons use that was delivered to the U.S. embassy in Turkey.

Here’s what U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had to say from Abu Dahbi on April 25th:

This morning, the White House delivered — delivered a letter to several members of Congress on the topic of chemical weapons used in Syria. The letter, which will be made available to you here shortly … states that the U.S. intelligence community assesses with some degree of varying confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin.

As I’ve said, the intelligence community has been assessing information for some time on this issue, and the decision to reach this conclusion was made within the past 24 hours.  And I’ve been in contact with senior officials in Washington today and most recently the last couple of hours, on this issue.

We cannot confirm the origin of these weapons, but we do believe that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would very likely have been originated with the Assad regime. As the letter states, the president has made it clear that the use of chemical weapons or the transfer of such weapons to terrorist groups would be unacceptable. The United States has an obligation to fully investigate, including with all key partners and allies and through the United Nations, evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria.

And here’s what the British Foreign Office had to say in a statement also on April 25th:

We have limited but persuasive information from various sources showing chemical weapon use in Syria, including sarin. This is extremely concerning. Use of chemical weapons is a war crime.

Not to be left behind Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird set the stage on April 7th in a written statement:

Assad has plunged his country into chaos and is ultimately responsible for any use of chemical weapons that occurs on Syrian territory.  We continue to warn the Syrian regime, and all parties in the Syrian conflict, against any use of chemical agents.

Baird then joined the bandwagon on April 26th stating:

There is no reason to doubt reports of chemical weapons being used in Syria… there’s no reason to discount or doubt what Israel and the U.S. are reporting… We suspect it’s the government, we don’t know it’s the government

These are very dangerous allegations – the kind that have been known to start, or at least provide justification for, wars.  Let’s break these allegations down.

Ambiguous Language

Notice the language in the above quotes.  There are lots of goodies to make sensational headlines with – indeed that’s exactly what we saw happen in the mainstream media.  But, in both cases there are lots of qualifiers: ‘limited but pervasive’, ‘assesses with some degree of varying confidence’, ‘cannot confirm the origin’, etc.

All I see here are wishy-washy allegations with nothing to back them up.  Yet, look at any major news source and you will see the allegations and fear-mongering being parroted over and over again.

Inconclusive Evidence

The evidence all this fear mongering is based on are the soil samples delivered to the British and the unspecified evidence delivered to the U.S. embassy in Turkey.  Let’s assume that everything is on the up-and-up, that these samples do exist and do contain evidence of chemical weapons.  We’ll make this assumption despite the fact that no hard evidence of any kind is being released to the public.

We still have a huge chain of custody issue here.  Neither the British nor the U.S. authorities collected the samples the allegations are based on.  It is clearly a possibility that these samples could have been tampered with or outright doctored prior to hand-off to the Americans and British.

But even if these are legitimate samples taken in the aftermath of chemical weapon attacks, all we can say is that somebody used chemical weapons.  It is one heck of a leap to then assign blame to the Syrian government.  There has been no evidence provided to justify making this kind of a leap of logic.

We’ve Seen This Before

The fact of the matter is, we’ve seen this before.  Remember Colin Powell’s address to the U.N. Security Council back in 2003 to provide the moral justification needed to start the Iraq war?  You should.  Because, in the end, it turned out to be complete bullshit – all part of a grand show to garner public support for invasion.

So, there is direct and recent historical precedent to using fear-mongering over WMDs as a justification for desired military action.  We need to be cautious and not simply accept at face value what the officials and their puppets in the mainstream media shove down our throats.

Who Has Motive?

Let’s do a little role playing.  You’re Assad.  You’ve got NATO and the West just itching to take you down.  You know what they’re capable of having seen what happened in Libya.  You’re fighting a civil war against a decentralized enemy who relies primarily on guerrilla warfare.  You know that any use of chemical weapons will cause massive backlash and justification for further intervention by NATO forces.  Further, use of such munitions would make it untenable for your one key geopolitical supporter, Russia, to continue intervene diplomatically (and with military aid) on your behalf.

Given this context, if you’re Assad, would you really use chemical weapons?  And, if you did make the completely insane decision to use chemical weapons, would you deploy them in small, non-strategic attacks on civilians?  Why would you possibly take all the negatives that go along with using chemical weapons for no strategic or even tactical gain?  It doesn’t make sense.

Now let’s look at things from the other side.  Let’s say you’re high up in the FSA.  You’ve got NATO and specifically the U.S. feeding you large quantities of cash and weapons but are still having a tough slog against determined government forces.  Your army is largely decentralized and it’s difficult to coordinate among the various factions for large scale coordinated attacks.  What you need most is air support or, at the least, some way to prevent the opposition from being able to use its air support.

You know that if Assad ever uses chemical weapons (or you can make people believe he did) the likely response will be a NATO imposed no-fly zone at the least.  Heck, it is even possible the U.S. might execute targeted air strikes or put some limited boots on the ground.  You know that Western politicians and media are deeply bias to your cause and have not widely reported on many of the atrocities your forces have committed.

Given this context, wouldn’t you deploy chemical weapons to achieve your strategic objective of a NATO enforced no-fly zone and increased military support?  Do you not have a clear motive for carrying out small scale chemical weapon attacks and attributing them to Assad?

Does the FSA Possess Chemical Weapons?

This is a pretty big statement: The FSA itself may be responsible for chemical weapon use in Syria.  Is this possible?  Does the FSA possess chemical weapons?

There is indeed some circumstantial evidence to suggest that the FSA does possess and has been preparing to deploy chemical weapons in a false flag operation against the Assad regime.  This evidence is by no means certain but, given the other well documented atrocities committed by the FSA, it is in the realm of possibility and worth at least being aware of.

Specifically, this evidence includes audio recordings between alleged FSA members discussing use of chemical weapons, video supposedly showing rebels testing chemical weapons against lab rabbits, and other reports of gas masks being distributed to FSA members (which could simply be a defensive measure against possible deployment by Assad forces).

All this evidence, like the allegations of chemical weapons use by Assad’s forces, is highly questionable and not to be considered conclusive.

One thing that is interesting on this topic is that back in December of 2012, the Syrian Foreign Ministry penned a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressing its concern for exactly the false flag scenario I just described:

The U.S. administration has consistently worked over the past year to launch a campaign of allegations on the possibility that Syria could use chemical weapons during the current crisis…What raises concerns about this news circulated by the media is our serious fear that some of the countries backing terrorism and terrorists might provide the armed terrorist groups with chemical weapons and claim that it was the Syrian government that used the weapons.

 

Conclusion

So what can we conclude from this?  Well, despite the propaganda from the mainstream media over the last few days, we certainly we can’t conclude that Assad’s forces used chemical weapons.  Equally, we can’t conclude that it was a false flag staged by the FSA.  About all we can definitively say is that, of the two groups, the FSA has every motivation for staging a false flag chemical weapon attack whereas Assad has every reason not to use his chemical weapons.

At the very least reasonable citizens should demand iron clad proof that chemical weapons have been deployed by Assad before allowing their governments to enter into yet another foreign entanglement.  The government has lied to and manipulated us before under these exact circumstances.  We have a duty to not allow ourselves be deceived again.

Finally, as Canadians we should be disgusted by John Baird’s shameful blind acceptance of U.S. and British allegations.  We expect more from our leaders than parroting whatever the U.S. and U.K. say.

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