Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Red Line

Trey Smith

In a statement issued Thursday, the Obama administration has declared that the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad has violated “international norms” by using chemical weapons on multiple occasions over the past year. The claim is a transparent lie that will be used by the US and its European allies, Britain and France, as the pretext for arming their right-wing Islamist proxies and for military intervention.

The allegations are no more credible than the lies about weapons of mass destruction that were used to justify the criminal US-led invasion of Iraq. The statement by Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes claimed that US intelligence agencies had “high confidence” in their assessment, but acknowledged that physiological evidence of sarin gas exposure did “not tell us how or where the individuals were exposed or who was responsible.”

The US claims simply ignored evidence that anti-Assad militias had chemical weapons and may have used them. Late last month, the Turkish press reported that the Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front, which forms the military backbone of the anti-Assad forces, had obtained chemical weapons and was planning to use them (see: “Syrian opposition fighters arrested with chemical weapons”). The Syrian “rebels”, which have been pressing for Western military assistance, have far more to gain than the Assad regime by staging small-scale chemical weapons attacks.

Rhodes alluded to the real purpose of the chemical weapons allegations, saying that Obama had declared they were “a red line” that “would change his calculus and it has.” He acknowledged that Obama had “authorised the expansion of our assistance to the [opposition] Supreme Military Council” and would be “consulting with Congress... in the coming weeks.” He warned that “these efforts will increase going forward.”

The timing of the announcement is no accident. It comes as the Obama administration has been immersed in emergency discussions this week on how to stem the recent defeats inflicted on the anti-Assad militias. The Syrian army, reinforced by fighters from Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia movement, took back the strategic town of Qusayr on June 5, cutting a crucial supply line from Lebanon for the so-called rebels.
~ from Pretext for a New War: Obama Lies About Syrian Chemical Weapons by Peter Symonds ~
What I find so odd about the announcement of the Syrian government crossing the "red line" is that the supposed last use of sarin gas in Syriahappened in March. How is it that it took three months to detect? The last time sarin was confirmed to be used was during two attacks in Japan during the mid nineties. According to CTV, "In the Tokyo attacks, it took police just three hours to confirm the use of sarin gas. The gas also leaves traces in the body and can be detected in blood, urine or hair samples. But detection becomes difficult within just a few weeks, when the level of the chemical may no longer be measurable at the scene of a suspected attack, or in a victim's body." It would seem then that the best time to detect it would be immediately after an alleged attack.

This is why I am a bit perplexed. Did someone detect and confirm its use 3 months ago and then held onto this information until it served a specific political purpose or was the discovery made much later. If the latter, how confident can those suspicions be?

It also points to the issue Symonds raises above. With nations around the globe watching, why in the world would the Syrian government utilize a chemical attack when they must have known that it would lead both to world condemnation and more direct involvement by the US and her allies? President al-Assad certainly doesn't want to get into a pissing match with the US military.

Looking at the situation logically, it makes much more sense that the rebels used the gas -- if anyone actually did -- and then blamed its use on government forces. It is much easier to rally support when you can paint yourself as the victim of a vile attack.

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