By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
December 13, 2012
Modeled on the Saddam Hussein WMD narrative, the propaganda ploy concerning the alleged threat of Syria’s chemical weapons has been building up over several months.
The Western media suggests –in chorus and without evidence– that a “frustrated” and “desperate” president Bashar al Assad is planning to use deadly chemical weapons against his own people.
Last week, U.S. officials revealed to NBC News that “Syria’s military has loaded nerve-gas chemicals into bombs and are awaiting final orders from al-Assad”.
The evolving media consensus is that “the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad appears to be entering its twilight” and that the “international community” has a responsibility to come to the rescue of the Syrian people to prevent the occurrence of a humanitarian disaster.
“…Fears are growing in the West that Syria will unleash chemical weapons in a last-ditch act of desperation”
Recent reports that the embattled government of Syria has begun preparations for the use of chemical weapons [against the Syrian people] . After two years of civil war and more than 40,000 deaths, events in Syria may be heading to a bloody crescendo. (WBUR, December 11, 2012)
Syria versus Iraq
Antiwar critics have largely underscored the similarities with the Iraq WMD ploy, which consisted in accusing the government of Saddam Hussein of possessing Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
The alleged WMD threat was then used as a justification to invade Iraq in March 2003.
The WMD Iraq ploy was subsequently acknowledged in the wake of the invasion as an outright fabrication, with president George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair actually recognizing that it was a “big mistake”.
In a recent statement Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu called for ‘lying’ Blair and Bush to face trial in the Hague`s International Criminal Court
The Syria WMD saga is in marked contrast to that of Iraq. The objective is not to” justify” an all out humanitarian war on Syria, using chemical weapons as a pretext.
An examination of allied military planning as well as the nature of US-NATO support to the opposition forces suggests a different course of action to that adopted in relation to Iraq (2003) and Libya (2011).
The purpose is indeed to demonize Bashar Al Assad but the objective at this stage is not the conduct of an all out “shock and awe” war on Syria, involving a full fledged air campaign. Such an action would, under present conditions, be a highly risky undertaking.
Syria has advanced air defense capabilities, equipped with Russian Iskander missiles (see image) as well as significant ground forces.
A Western military operation could also lead to a response from Russia, which has a naval base at the port city of Tartus in Southern Syria.
Moreover, Iranian forces from its revolutionary guards corps (IRGC) are present on the ground in Syria; Russian military advisers are involved in the training of the Syrian military.
In recent developments, Syria took delivery of the more advanced Russian Iskander missile system, the Mach 6-7, in response to the deployment of US Made Patriot missiles in Turkey.
Syria already possesses the less advanced E-Series Iskander. Syria is also equipped with the Russian ground to air defense missile system Pechora-2M.
At this juncture, despite US-NATO military superiority, an all out military operation, for the reasons mentioned above, is not contemplated.
Non-conventional warfare remains the chosen avenue.
Reports confirm that NATO-led military operations would be largely in support of rebel forces, its command structure, communications systems, recruitment, training, the transfer to rebel forces of more advanced weapons.
Part of this undertaking including the training of rebels is being carried by private mercenary companies.
A limited and selective air campaign in support of the rebels, using Syria’s chemical weapons bunker stockpiles as a pretext could be contemplated, but even this would be a risky undertaking given Syria’s air defense capabilities.
What was on the drawing board of a recent “Semi-Secret” Meeting in London, hosted by General Sir David Julian Richards, head of Britain’s Defense Staff is a coordinated military agenda characterised by “air and naval support, plus military training for the opposition”.
The meeting in London included the participation of the military chiefs of France, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, the UAE and the US. No further details were made public (See Felicity Arbuthnot, Secret Meetings in London Plotting to Wage War on Syria without UN Authorization, Global Research, December 11, 2012
The thrust of this London gathering behind closed doors (reported on December 10, 2012) was to support a unified military command structure of opposition forces designed to “unify insurgent ranks” fighting government forces.
In practice, this will require a renewed influx of mercenaries under the supervision of Western special forces which are already on the ground inside Syria.
Staging a Humanitarian Disaster?
The training component of US-NATO action is of crucial importance. How does it relate to the Syria ‘chemical weapons’ issue?
The Western military alliance does not contemplate at this stage an all out war in response to Syria’s possession of chemical weapons. What is contemplated is the need to train the opposition rebels in the handling of chemical weapons.
This specialized training program which was confirmed is already ongoing, implemented with the support of specialized private mercenary and security companies on contract to the Pentagon:
“The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday. ( CNN Report, December 9, 2012)
What is unfolding is a diabolical scenario –which is an integral part of military planning– namely a situation where opposition terrorists advised by Western defense contractors are actually in possession of chemical weapons.
This is not a rebel training exercise in non-proliferation.
While president Obama states that “you will be held accountable” if “you” (meaning the Syrian government) use chemical weapons, what is contemplated as part of this covert operation is the possession of chemical weapons by the US-NATO sponsored terrorists, namely “by our” Al Qaeda affiliated operatives, including the Al Nusra Front (see image on right), which constitutes the most effective Western financed and trained fighting group, largely integrated by foreign mercenaries.
In a bitter twist, Jabhat al-Nusra, a US sponsored “intelligence asset”, was recently put on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.
The West claims that it is coming to the rescue of the Syrian people, whose lives are allegedly threatened by Bashar Al Assad.
The truth of the matter is that the Western military alliance is not only supporting the terrorists, including the Al Nusra Front, it is also making chemical weapons available to its proxy “opposition” rebel forces.
The next phase of this diabolical scenario is that the chemical weapons could be used by the US-NATO recruited “opposition” terrorists against civilians, which could potentially lead an entire nation into a humanitarian disaster.
The broader issue is: who is a threat to the Syrian people? The Syrian government of Bashar al Assad or the US-NATO-Israel military alliance which is recruting and training “opposition” terrorist forces.
The Syria Chemical Weapons Pretext: Background
The Syria Chemical Weapons Saga was launched last Summer. In early August, the Pentagon announced that it would send “small teams of special operations troops” into Syria with a view to destroying Syria’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
These teams would in turn be supported by “precision air strikes”, namely air raids.
An all out aerial attack was not contemplated. According to the Pentagon, the precision strikes were intended to “destroy the chemical weapons without dispersing them in the air”, a highly risky undertaking…
Ironically, at the outset of this diabolical plan, the US special forces incursion and air operation were not to be directed against the Syrian regime. In fact quite the opposite.
The stated intent of the operation was to protect civilians against “opposition” rebels, rather than government forces.
No accusations were directed against President Bashar al Assad to the effect that he was underhandedly conniving to use WMD against Syrian civilians.
According to the Pentagon, the operation was to ensure that Syria’s WMDs, which allegedly “are left unguarded” in military bunkers around the country do not fall in the hands of opposition jihadist rebels who are fighting government forces:
Pentagon planners are more focused on protecting or destroying any Syrian stockpiles that are left unguarded and at risk [of] falling into the hands of rebel fighters or militias aligned with Al Qaeda, Hezbollah or other militant groups. ( U.S. has plans in place to secure Syria chemical arms – latimes.com, August 22, 2012
What the Pentagon was saying in August, was that these WMD could fall in the hands of the “pro-democracy” freedom fighters recruited and financed by several of America’s close allies including Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, in liaison with Washington and NATO headquarters in Brussels.
In essence, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was refuting his own lies. In August he acknowledged the terrorist threat, now he is accusing Bashar Al Assad.
Tacitly acknowledged by Washington, the majority of the Syrian freedom fighters are not only foreign mercenaries, they also belong to extremist Islamist groups, which are on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.
Israel is a partner in the Syria chemical weapons operation in liaison with NATO and the Pentagon.
Training Terrorists in the Use of Chemical Weapons
If the Obama administration were genuinely concerned in preventing these chemical weapons from falling “in the wrong hands” (as suggested by the Pentagon in August), why then are they now training “opposition rebels” –largely composed of Salafist and Al Qaeda affiliated fighters– to gain control over government stockpiles of chemical weapons?
The training [in chemical weapons], which is taking place in Jordan and Turkey, involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials, according to the sources. Some of the contractors are on the ground in Syria working with the rebels to monitor some of the sites, according to one of the officials.
The nationality of the trainers was not disclosed, though the officials cautioned against assuming all are American. (CNN, December 09, 2012)
While the news report does not confirm the identity of the defense contractors, the official statements suggest a close contractual relationship to the Pentagon:
The US decision to hire unaccountable defense contractors to train Syrian rebels to handle stockpiles of chemical weapons seems dangerously irresponsible in the extreme, especially considering how inept Washington has so far been at making sure only trustworthy, secular rebels – to the extent they exist – receive their aid and the weapons that allies in the Gulf Arab states have been providing.
It also feeds accusations that the Syrian Foreign Ministry recently made that the US is working to frame the Syrian regime as having used or prepared for chemical warfare.
“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,” the letters said.”( John Glaser, Us Defense Contractors Training Syrian Rebels, Antiwar.com, December 10, 2012, See also CNN Report, December 9, 2012)
The central question is: what is the nature of this gruesome covert operation? Is the purpose of the US-NATO led operation to “prevent” or “encourage” the use of chemical weapons by the Free Syrian Army (FSA)?
The above report confirms that the US and NATO are training terrorists in the use of chemical weapons.
Does this type of specialized training require the actual handling of toxic chemicals? In other words, is the Western military alliance, through its appointed defense contractors, making chemical weapons available to terrorists for training purposes?
Knowing that the Syrian insurgency is in large part made up of jihadists and Al Qaeda affiliated formations, this is hardly a means to “preventing” the actual use of chemical weapons against civilians.
Moreover, amply documented, many of the “opposition” rebels who are receiving training in chemical weapons, have committed countless atrocities directed against Syrian civilians, including the massacres in Houla:
“Terrorist groups may resort to using chemical weapons against the Syrian people… after having gained control of a toxic chlorine factory [in Aleppo],” the foreign ministry said Saturday.” (Press TV, December 8, 2012)
It should be noted that the use of chemical weapons by opposition forces does not require that the rebels actually secure control over government stockpiles.
Chemical weapons could easily be made available –from Western stockpiles– to the defense contractors involved in the specialized chemical weapons training programs.
Needless to say, the chemical weapons training and the involvement of private mercenary outfits on contract to NATO and the Pentagon, increase the risk; they create conditions which favor the use of chemical weapons by opposition forces, thereby potentially triggering a nationwide humanitarian disaster.
The US-NATO coalition has clarified at its “semi-secret” meeting in London (reported on December 10), however, that it does not contemplate “boots on the ground”.
The special forces will be working with the opposition insurgency against government forces.
In the absence of an all out US-NATO military operation, the focus is on non-conventional warfare. In this context, one of several diabolical “options on the table” would be to create conditions whereby chemical weapons “fall in the hands” of the terrorists thereby potentially triggering a nationwide humanitarian disaster.
While this option, were it to be carried out, would not require a US-NATO military intervention, the humanitarian catastrophe would set the stage for the collapse of the Syrian government, namely the long sought objective of “regime change”.
The Libya or Iraq model is not an option. The strategic choice of the Western military alliance points towards the possible staging of a humanitarian catastrophe?
In the logic of war propaganda and media disinformation, the deaths of civilians resulting from the use of chemical weapons would be blamed on President Bashar Al Assad, with a view to enforcing subsequent actions by the US-NATO military alliance.
We are not suggesting that this option will inevitably be carried out. What we are saying is that the option of chemical weapons in the hands of the rebels which could potentially trigger a humanitarian disaster is on the US-NATO drawing board.
How can we ensure that this gruesome and diabolical option be thwarted and definitively shelved?
The issue must be brought into the open. Public opinion must be mobilized against the US-NATO-Israel led war.
Denounce the Déjà Vu WMD lies.
Challenge the mainstream media consensus.
Reveal and refute the lies and fabrications concerning Syria’s chemical weapons program.
Spread the word, far and wide,
Bring the issue to the forefront of public debate, Confront the war criminals in high office.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 13, 2012, 10:50 AM (GMT+02:00)
By the blacklisting Tuesday, Dec. 11, of the Jabhat al-Nusra group fighting in Syrian rebel ranks as “a foreign terrorist organization” and affiliate of al Qaeda in Iraq, Washington faces four quandaries:
1. The 10,000 fighters of this al Qaeda affiliate are the best-trained and most professional component of the Syrian rebel front;.
2. Jabhat al-Nusra fields 3,000 fighters out of the mostly Free Syrian Army’s 14,000 rebels fighting in and around Aleppo. They also constitute the assault force’s spearhead.
3. The Islamists are at the sharp front edge of the rebel force battling for control of the Syrian army’s biggest chemical weapons store at Al Safira, near Aleppo. Thursday morning, Dec. 12, they were just a kilometer from the base’s northwestern perimeter fence and advancing fast. By week’s end, Jabhat al-Nusra jihadis may have smashed into the base and seized control of the chemical stocks and Scud D planes standing there armed with chemical warheads.
The imminence of this peril forced Bashar Assad’s hand into sending Scud jets against rebel-held areas in an effort to stop their advance on the base.
4. This al Qaeda affiliate is also better armed and equipped than any other Syrian rebel force, thanks to the generous financial and logistical aid laid on by Persian Gulf sources, especially in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.
The difficulty here is that those three Gulf Arab stats are also American allies in the war against Assad and the most important contributors to the US-sponsored Friends of Syria, a forum which met in Marrakesh Wednesday and formally recognized the umbrella Syrian opposition coalition of exiled groups as the legitimate government of Syria.
Reporters inside Syria reported that when the Jabhat al-Nusra fighters heard this news, they declared 700 of their number had died… laughing.
But as the vicious civil war of nearly two years and more than 40,000 dead approached another dangerous peak, no one was laughing in Damascus or Washington.
debkafile’s military sources point to the next crisis looming ahead: If Assad fails to stop the al Qaeda fighters from reaching Al-Safira and its poison gas stores – and an al Qaeda affiliate succeeds for the first time in arming itself with chemical weapons – the United States will have to mount an air assault – not on Assad’s army but on the Syrian rebel forces fighting him, because if they do manage to seize control of the base, rebel fighters may decide to send the chemicals-tipped missiles against Assad regime centers in Damascus.
The fall of al Safira would then transform the Syrian civil conflict into a chemical missile war.
US-Backed Syrian Opposition Demands Support for Al QaedaTony Cartalucci, Contributor
As part of the US’ charade in declaring support and recognition of the so-called “Syrian” opposition, it added one of the more extreme groups that make up the militant front operating inside Syria to a list of sanctioned terrorist organizations. The idea was to have a scapegoat to pin atrocities on while the West armed, funded, and provided military support for the rest of the extremist groups ravaging Syria.
The decision to consider a party that is fighting the regime as a terrorist party needs to be reviewed. We might disagree with some parties and their ideas and their political and ideological vision. But we affirm that all the guns of the rebels are aimed at overthrowing the tyrannical criminal regime.
Al-Khatib himself openly declares his intentions of establishing an “Islamic state” upon the ashes of the currently secular Syria, and has ties with the extremist Muslim Brotherhood. He was also a representative of Western big oil interests, in particular Royal Dutch Shell.
Al-Khatib had worked at the al-Furat Petroleum Company for six years, according to the BBC, which is partnered with Shell Oil. Al-Khatib is also said to have lobbied for Shell in Syria between 2003-2004, and has likewise taught classes in both Europe and the United States, this according to his biography featured on his own website.
The implications of the US-backed “opposition coalition” in Syria clearly collaborating with and acting in support of the terrorist Jabhat al-Nusra front, identifies it as providing material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, as per USC § 2339B which reads:
Whoever knowingly provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both, and, if the death of any person results, shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life. To violate this paragraph, a person must have knowledge that the organization is a designated terrorist organization (as defined in subsection (g)(6)), that the organization has engaged or engages in terrorist activity (as defined in section 212(a)(3)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act), or that the organization has engaged or engages in terrorism (as defined in section 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989).
Clearly, at the very least, the US cannot “recognize” such a group as the “representatives” of the Syrian people, nor can it support them in any manner, financial, militarily, or politically. To do so would implicate the US government itself as in violation of its own anti-terror laws.
The so-called “Syrian” opposition has been an increasing embarrassment to the Western interests that have maliciously arrayed them against the Syrian people, as far back as 2007. And while NATO is willfully utilizing Al Qaeda’s own regional networks to flood terrorists into Syria, to have the leaders of their own contrived opposition front openly demand that Al Qaeda be given support and recognition gives the world’s public insight into the depths of illegitimacy from which the West is operating in pursuit of regime change in Syria.
Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt
December 12, 2012
Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have fired Scud missiles at rebel fighters in recent days, Obama administration officials said on Wednesday.
The move represents a significant escalation in the fighting, which has already killed more than 40,000 civilians in a nearly two-year-old conflict that has threatened to destabilize the Middle East, and suggests increased desperation on the part of the Assad government.
One American official, who asked not to be identified because he was discussing classified information, said that missiles had been fired from the Damascus area at targets in northern Syria.
By Julie Lévesque
December 12, 2012
Israel is conducting a covert cross-border operation directed against Syria in liaison with NATO and the Pentagon.
After looking for a “smoking gun” in Iran earlier this year, Israeli special forces are now “tracking” Syria’s “stocks of chemical and biological weapons”, according to The Sunday Times.
“The cross-border operation is part of a secret war to trail Syria’s non-conventional armaments and sabotage their development. ‘For years we’ve known the exact location of Syria’s chemical and biological munitions,’ an Israeli source said, referring to the country’s spy satellites and drones. ‘But in the past week we’ve got signs that munitions have been moved to new locations.’” (Uzi Mahnaimi and Lucy Fisher Israel tracks Syria’s chemical arsenal, The Sunday Times 9 December 2012.)
Everyone recalls the WMD hype prior to launching the war on Iraq. It turned out that the Iraqi WMD threat was an outright fabrication.
Those involved in the Iraq WMD propaganda ploy are now applying their skills with a view to fabricating a WMD pretext to intervene in Syria. According to a report from the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, “Israelis ‘misread’ the Iraqi threat”. In 2003, the BBC wrote on the report’s findings:
Israeli intelligence miscalculated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein […] This contributed to the “false” picture painted by US and British services […]
“Israeli intelligence was a full partner with the US and Britain in developing a false picture of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction capability,” said the author of the report, retired Brigadier General Shlomo Brom.
“It badly overestimated the Iraqi threat to Israel and reinforced the American and British belief that the weapons existed.”
“From now on, when we present serious data on other countries, like Iran for example, who will treat us seriously?” Israel Radio quoted Israeli left-wing parliamentarian Yossi Sarid as saying. (Israelis ‘misread’ Iraqi threat, BBC,December 5, 2003)
In late March 2012 The Sunday Times reported that “Israel is using a permanent base in Iraqi Kurdistan to launch cross-border intelligence missions in an attempt to find ‘smoking gun’ evidence that Iran is building a nuclear warhead.” (Israeli spies scour Iran in nuclear hunt, The Sunday Times,March 25, 2012)
There is no evidence that Iran has nuclear weapons, even US intelligence agencies agree on that. Global Research ran a story on the Israeli covert op, potentially fabricating WMD evidence in relation to Iran. What is now unfolding in relation to Syria’s alleged WMD is a rerun of previous attempts to funnel fabricated evidence into the news chain:
Western sources told the Times Israel was monitoring “radioactivity and magnitude of explosives tests” and that “special forces used Black Hawk helicopters to carry commandos disguised as members of the Iranian military and using Iranian military vehicles”. The sources believe “Iranians are trying to hide evidence of warhead tests in preparation for a possible IAEA visit”. (Cited in Report: Israeli soldiers scour Iran for nukes, Ynet, March 25, 2012)
The number of Israeli intelligence missions focussing on the Parchin military base in Iran has increased in the past few months, according to the article. During that period, Tehran has been negotiating with the IAEA which had requested to visit Parchin. According to Iran’s permanent representative to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, both parties had agreed in early February that the visit would take place in March. (Gareth Porter, Details of Talks with IAEA Belie Charge Iran Refused Cooperation, IPS,March 21, 2012)
The IAEA requested to visit Parchin in late January and late February, after having agreed to a visit in March. The IAEA thus requested to visit the military complex exactly at the same time Israel was intensifying its secret operations to allegedly search for a “smoking gun”. (Julie Lévesque, Fabricating a “Smoking Gun” to Attack Iran? Israeli Spies Disguised as Iranian Soldiers on Mission Inside Iran Global Research,March 27, 2012)
Israel’s covert operation in Syria is part of a longstanding intelligence agenda directed against the Damascus government. According to intelNews:
[…]Israel’s covert activities against the Syrian government’s chemical and biological arsenal go back almost 30 years. Reputedly, some of the more recent such activities may have involved the targeting of Russian scientists.
Although Russia routinely denies it, it is believed that Syria’s non-conventional arsenal was significantly augmented in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the help of Russian retired general Anatoliy Kuntsevich […]
Interestingly, Kuntsevich died suddenly in 2003 onboard a flight from the Syrian capital to Moscow. It was widely speculated at the time that the Mossad, Israel’s covert-action agency, may have played a role in the Russian general’s sudden death. In 2010, another retired Russian general, Yuri Ivanov, who had served as Deputy Director of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, died in unclear circumstances […]
According to reports in the Israeli press, the former GRU official was on his way to a meeting with Syrian intelligence officers when he went missing. Israel has never acknowledged having played a part in Ivanon’s death, but many suspect that Tel Aviv had been targeting the two Russians for quite some time. (Joseph Fitsanakis Israel special forces conducting cross-border operations in Syria, intelNews.org, December 10, 2012.)
This interpretation of events is plausible since targeted assassinations of foreign scientists by Israeli secret services have been acknowledged in the past:
The reduction [of Israel’s covert operations in Iran] runs across a wide spectrum of operations, cutting back not only alleged high-profile missions such as assassinations and detonations at Iranian missile bases, but also efforts to gather firsthand on-the-ground intelligence and recruit spies inside the Iranian program, according to the officials. (Karl Vick, Mossad Cutting Back on Covert Operations Inside Iran, Officials Say, TIME, March 30, 2012, quoted in Julie Lévesque, “Running Short of New Targets: Israel’s Secret Service is “Cutting Back on Assassinations” in Iran, Global Research, April 17, 2012.)
While Israel’s secret operation in Syria could conceivably also target Russian scientists, it should be understood that its ultimate objective is to reinforce the intense propaganda campaign pertaining to Syria’s chemical arsenal. This leak in The Sunday Times could be part of the ongoing psychological operation against Syria, with a view to building a pretext for waging a preemptive war on Syria.
Since the beginning of the armed insurrection in March 2011, the US and its allies alongside the Western mainstream media have been blaming the Syrian government for committing atrocities directed against civilians, including the Houla massacre. According to independent media reports as well as the testimony of witnesses on the ground, these atrocities were committed by the US-NATO sponsored opposition forces.
The Syrian government has been demonized to such an extent by the mainstream media that if an attack were to occur, public opinion could easily be led to believe, without evidence, that the Syrian government is responsible for crimes against its own people.
This is a perfect context for a false flag operation or intensive propaganda involving chemical weapons. These allegations based on fake WMD evidence directed against the Syrian government could be used once again to pressure the UN Security Council to give NATO a “legal mandate” to intervene in Syria under the “responsibility to protect” doctrine.
CNN recently reported that the US and “some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria.” The Syrian government expressed its concerns in a letter to the UN:
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 […] (Quoted in John Glaser, US Defense Contractors Training Syrian Rebels to Handle Chemical Weapons, Antiwar.com, December 10, 2012.)
December 12, 2012
Russia’s Foreign Minister said the US decision to recognize the Syrian opposition ignores an international pledge to begin a dialogue on Syria’s political future.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who has played a central role in Russia’s efforts to bring Syria’s rebel opposition and pro-government officials to the negotiating table, said Moscow is “surprised to learn that Washington has recognized the national coalition of Syrian revolutionary forces as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.”
Lavrov admitted that he was also taken aback by the US decision.
“I was also somewhat surprised to learn that the US, as represented by its President, recognized the national coalition as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people,” Lavrov said at a press conference following negotiations with Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak on Wednesday.
US President Barack Obama said the newly created Syrian Opposition Council “is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough” to be considered eligible for American support.
“Obviously, with that recognition comes responsibilities,” the US leader said in an interview with ABC News.
Moscow would like to see more internal debate from the Syrian people as to what sort of political representation they want.
Washington’s recognition “contradicts the agreements stipulated by the Geneva communiqué, which presume the starting of a common Syrian dialogue,” Lavrov noted.
In the course of the protracted Syrian conflict, which represents a grave challenge to the government of President Bashar Assad, Moscow has held talks with both sides in an effort to not only create the conditions for peace, but to avoid any sort of outside military interference, as was the case in Libya.
Lavrov argued that Washington is voicing its support for insurrection by hedging its bet on the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.’
“Since the coalition has been recognized as the only legitimate representative, the US has apparently decided to stake solely on the armed victory of this very national coalition,” the Russian minister concluded.
Tony Cartalucci, Contributor
As expected, after a long pause of feigned “consideration,” the US has recognized the militants it has been arming, funding, aiding logistically and supporting diplomatically since as early as 2007, as the “legitimate representatives of the Syrian people,” with the added caveat, “in opposition to the Assad regime.” The Wall Street Journal would report that US President Barack Obama’s announcement actually read:
The Syrian National Coalition for Revolutionary and Opposition Forces is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime.
The bizarre, uncertain wording sends a message of both uncertainty and resounding illegitimacy, indicating that the US itself recognizes the true nature of the so-called “Syrian” opposition is apparent to an increasing number of people both in public office and across the public, and that a certain degree of rhetorical distance must be kept.
The overt, extremist nature of the militants operating in Syria has become increasingly difficult for the West to paper over. Torrents of videos and confirmed reports documenting militant atrocities, including several involving the machine gunning of bound prisoners, and a particularly gruesome video of a child handed a sword by militants to hack off the heads of bound men wearing civilian clothing, has confirmed the worst fears expressed by geopolitical analysts and foreign governments around the world – that the Syrian opposition is in fact Al Qaeda.
So damning is the evidence, that President Obama was forced to finally acknowledge this, stating:
There is a small element of those who oppose the Assad regime that are affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq…and we are going to make clear to distinguish between those elements of the opposition.
The Wall Street Journal, in their article, “U.S. Recognizes Syria’s Main Rebel Group,” would also report:
The Obama administration on Tuesday for the first time released intelligence directly tying a powerful Syrian rebel group to commanders of al Qaeda in Iraq. U.S. officials formally sanctioned the Syrian militia, called Jabhat al-Nusra—freezing any assets it may have in the U.S. and barring Americans from doing business with it—because of fears it is gaining disproportionate power among the rebel groups seeking to overthrow Mr. Assad.Despite this announcement, such sanctions are symbolic and selectively enforced. Also on such lists was the Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK), and currently the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which officially merged with Al Qaeda in 2007, according to the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq.”
Yet in 2011, NATO had armed, funded, and provided air support for LIFG during the premeditated overthrow of the Libyan government.
US Has Knowingly Supported Al Qaeda for Years
Based in Benghazi, elements of LIFG were behind the attack on a US consulate and the death of US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
They are also confirmed to be sending fighters and weapons through NATO-member Turkey where they stage before engaging in combat operations inside Syria.
In November 2011, the Telegraph in their article, “Leading Libyan Islamist met Free Syrian Army opposition group,” would mention LIFG by name when they reported:
Abdulhakim Belhadj, head of the Tripoli Military Council and the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, ‘met with Free Syrian Army leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey,’ said a military official working with Mr Belhadj. ‘Mustafa Abdul Jalil (the interim Libyan president) sent him there.’
Another Telegraph article, “Libya’s new rulers offer weapons to Syrian rebels,” would admit:
Syrian rebels held secret talks with Libya’s new authorities on Friday, aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
At the meeting, which was held in Istanbul and included Turkish officials, the Syrians requested ‘assistance’ from the Libyan representatives and were offered arms, and potentially volunteers.
‘There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria,’ said a Libyan source, speaking on condition of anonymity. ‘There is a military intervention on the way. Within a few weeks you will see.’
Later that month, some 600 Libyan terrorists would be reported to have entered Syria to begin combat operations and have been flooding into the country ever since.
Clearly they are not “secretly” organizing hundreds of fighters under the nose of the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and “sneaking” through NATO member states into Syria. They are doing with NATO-backing, with NATO admittedly providing support for militants along Turkey’s border with Syria, utilizing the very same regional Al Qaeda networks identified by the US military during the US occupation of Iraq – which also explains where Jabhat al-Nusra is coming from.
Further undermining US claims that they have identified and are attempting to separate from the “opposition,” sectarian extremists, are admissions made as early as 2007 that US foreign policy explicitly sought to utilize these very sectarian extremists to violently overthrow the Syrian government. Indeed, in 2007, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh published an article titled, “The Redirection” for the New Yorker, within which US, Saudi, and Lebanese officials described their conspiracy.
In the report it specifically stated:
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda. –The Redirection, Seymour Hersh (2007)
Hersh’s report would continue by stating:
the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations. –The Redirection, Seymour Hersh (2007)
The link between extremist groups and Saudi funding was also mentioned in the report, and reflects evidence presented by the West Point CTC indicating that the majority of fighters and funding behind the sectarian violence in Iraq, came from Saudi Arabia. Hersh’s report specifically states:
…[Saudi Arabia’s] Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran. –The Redirection, Seymour Hersh (2007)
The report reads like a prophecy, fulfilled verbatim during the events of the last 2 years. The Wall Street Journal report openly states that the Syrian conflict is turning into a proxy war with Iran, just as was planned in 2007. The feigned ignorance, surprise and attempts to mitigate terror groups the US purposefully created in the first place, is merely for public consumption. Bands of sectarian extremists destroying Syria was the stated plan for years, a plan now coming into fruition.
Wall Street Journal Admits Syria’s Minorities are Fighting for Lives – SNC Leader Admits He Seeks an “Islamic State”
And even as US President Obama attempts to assure the public and the international community that the West is sorting out the extremists, the Wall Street Journal admits that militias are forming across Syria – assembled by Syria’s large minorities to protect themselves from what is clearly a sectarian assault – not a pro-democracy movement. In describing the militias, the Wall Street Journal reports:
Many come from Syria’s religious minorities, mostly the Shiite offshoot Alawite sect to which the president’s family belongs, as well Christians and Druze, who increasingly see themselves in a battle against a mainly Sunni rebel insurgency.Of course, the Wall Street Journal attempts to portray the militias as mercenaries in the service of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, despite admitting the sectarian nature of the opposition and admitting that Al Qaeda is confirmed to be operating inside of Syria.
The sectarian nature of the bloodbath the US was engineering in 2007 was also mentioned in Seymour Hersh’s “The Redirection.” Foreshadowing was given by a former CIA officer based in Lebanon who stated:
Robert Baer, a former longtime C.I.A. agent in Lebanon, has been a severe critic of Hezbollah and has warned of its links to Iranian-sponsored terrorism. But now, he told me, ‘we’ve got Sunni Arabs preparing for cataclysmic conflict, and we will need somebody to protect the Christians in Lebanon. It used to be the French and the United States who would do it, and now it’s going to be Nasrallah and the Shiites’ –The Redirection, Seymour Hersh (2007)
Clearly, the Christians in Syria would also need protection.
And while the US attempts to reassure the world that the brood of terrorists it is cultivating and has now officially recognized as the “representatives of the Syrian people” is “pro-democratic” in nature, the very leader the US recently handpicked in Doha, Qatar to lead the new opposition coalition, Moaz al-Khatib, has admitted in an Al Jazeera interview that he seeks to establish an “Islamic state” across currently secular Syria.
Modeled after the increasingly despotic Muslim Brotherhood regime led by Mohammed Morsi, who is currently hiring rape gangs to help disperse protesters opposed to his expanding dictatorship, al-Khatib’s vision of Syria’s future is one even many Syrian Sunnis reject.
To declare this violent minority, augmented by foreign terrorists couching the establishment of a brutal faux-theocracy behind the paper-thin veneer of “democracy,” as the “representatives of the Syrian people” is not a “a big step” as President Obama declared. Instead, it is a step as illegitimate and morally bankrupt as it is desperate. It is a stumble forward – and one that threatens to trip up anyone within arms reach of America as it takes it.
6:03PM EST December 11. 2012 – BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian rebels including Islamic extremists took full control of a sprawling military base Tuesday after a bloody two-day battle that killed 35 soldiers, activists said. It was the latest gain by opposition forces bolstered by an al-Qaida-linked group that has provided skilled fighters but raised concerns in the West.
The Sheik Suleiman military base was the second major base captured in the north by the rebels, who also are making inroads farther south toward the capital, Damascus.
In other violence, dozens of people were reported injured or killed in Aqrab, a village in central Hama province, in a series of explosions. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the bloodshed, citing activists in the area, but had no immediate death toll or details on who was to blame.
Fighters from jihadi groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra, were among those doing battle in the rebel ranks as they took control of Sheik Suleiman base, near the northern city of Aleppo, according to the Observatory and other activists.
The presence of the jihadi groups has raised concerns in the U.S. and other nations that are supporting the opposition in Syria but do not want to see extremists gain power in the region. The U.S. this week blacklisted al-Nusra as a foreign terrorist organization and said the group was part of al-Qaida in Iraq.
But al-Nusra fighters appear to be among the most effective fighting forces on the rebel side, spearheading many of the recent gains.
The U.S. terror designation freezes any assets members of al-Nusra may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bars Americans from providing the group with material support. It’s largely symbolic because the group is not thought to have holdings or support in the United States, but officials hope the penalties will encourage others to take similar action and discourage Syrians from joining.
The administration took further action Tuesday against extremists on both sides, with the Treasury Department setting separate sanctions against two senior al-Nusra leaders and two militant groups operating under the control of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government. Two commanders of the pro-regime shabiha force also were targeted.
“We will target the pro-Assad militias just as we will the terrorists who falsely cloak themselves in the flag of the legitimate opposition,” said David S. Cohen, the department’s sanctions chief.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 10, 2012, 10:08 AM (GMT+02:00)
There is growing concern that some of the chemical weapons the Assad regime has been pushing out of the Damascus area in the last few days were sent across the border to Hizballah strongholds in the Lebanese Beqaa Valley to keep them out of rebel hands. Syrian army officers who recently defected report that containers were last week removed from Syrian bases at Jabal Kalamon and loaded on vehicles camouflaged as commercial trucks. On the Lebanese side, the consignment is thought to have been split up and hidden at different Hizballah bases to make them harder to attack.
Israel’s US Ambassador Michael Oren, asked by a FOX TV interviewer Saturday Dec. 8, if he could confirm this, said he could not, but warned that any evidence of chemical weapons being passed from the Assad regime to extremist groups like Hizballah would be a “game-changer,” and a “red line” for Israel. “We have a very clear red line about those chemical weapons passing into the wrong hands. Can you imagine if Hizballah and its 70,000 rockets would get its hands on chemical weapons? That could kill thousands of people.”
Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon on he other hand saw no indication Sunday that Syria was planning to use chemical weapons against Israel. He refrained from going into any of the three possible perils presented by the regime in Damascus as it finds itself in a knife-edge situation:
1. Syria’s chemical weapons are deployed in at least five air force bases, with evidence of preparations to use them, as confirmed by British Foreign Secretary William Hague Saturday, Dec. 8.
US military sources explained early Monday, Dec. 10, that the nerve gas sarin is effective up to 60 days after its precursor chemicals are mixed. Placing the weaponized material in close proximity to warplanes indicates an intention within that timeline to drop the poison gas bombs from the air. After that, sarin must be destroyed in controlled conditions lest its poisons escape into the environment. No one knows if the Syrians have the necessary scientific manpower to take responsibility for this process.
2. The battle around Al Safira, site of Syria’s biggest chemical weapons store and Scud D missiles fitted with chemical warheads, is fierce and fluid: the base changes hands every few hours in heavy fighting between Syria army and rebel forces.
Saturday, the base’s capture by the rebels triggered a warning from the Assad regime against throwing chemical weapons into the battle. Sunday, Al Safira was recaptured, but the rebels are sweeping through the surrounding villages and closing in on three sides. For now, Syrian forces control the road connecting Al Safira to Aleppo, but the rebels have seized parts of Sheikh Suleiman, the biggest air base near that city, and are getting close to that highway. Its fall would snap shut the rebel siege on Al Safira.
Control of Al Safira would place the big chemical weapons stores in the hands of rebel forces in that sector, many of whom belong to Jabhat al-Nusra, the roof organization of the al Qaeda elements fighting in Syria against the Assad regime.
3. In the estimate of Western and Israeli intelligence agencies, Assad has already directed his troops fighting in and around Damascus to use chemical weapons if the rebels get near to seizing any part of Damascus international airport.
Published: 11 December, 2012, 08:11
After granting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange political asylum, Ecuador may consider doing the same for embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad and his inner circle, if he asks for it.
Speaking to Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said, “Any person who requests asylum in Ecuador, we will consider as a human being whose basic rights we must respect.”
“We would analyze such a request with all responsibility,” he added.
President Correa confirmed that Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad had visited Quito a few weeks ago, but denied reports from Israel’s Haaretz newspaper that they had discussed the possibility of granting political asylum to Assad, his family and his associates.
“These talks did not take place,” Correa said, noting that al-Miqdad expressed gratitude to Ecuador over its “objective position.”
Haaretz reported that al-Miqdad had held meetings in Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador over the past week, bringing with him classified personal letters from Assad to local leaders.
Ecuador already made world headlines by granting political asylum to famous whistleblower Julian Assange in August. However the WikiLeaks founder remains confined inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London as British authorities say that if he leaves, he will be arrested and extradited to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in connection with a sexual assault case.
The Syrian president, who has ruled the country since 2000, is facing a civil war with local and foreign opposition forces pushing for him to relinquish power.
Published: 10 December, 2012, 06:00
Placing the Patriot missiles in Turkey will create a de-facto no-fly zone over Syria’s north, making it easier for rebels to consolidate their forces there – and even establish their own government, Syrian political activist Yazan Abdallah told RT.
Abdallah also shared with RT information that jihadist groups inside Syria might use chemical weapons to conduct “ethnic cleansing” against certain sectarian groups.
RT:NATO is planning to deploy Patriot missiles on the Syrian border, saying Turkey may need protection against an attack from Damascus – how likely a scenario is that?
YA: It sounds pretty preposterous to me that Turkey, in the current format of its army, needs protection from Syria. Syria is not going to attack Turkey. This is simple. Syria has got serious troubles going on, so why would Syria go and attack Turkey?
The Patriot missiles will likely create a de-facto no-fly zone over the northern territory of Syria to consolidate the military presence of the rebels, and perhaps install the new Western-backed government in the northern part of Syria. It is very, very unlikely that these Patriots missiles are to defend against Syria’s intervention. Why would Syria interfere unnecessarily in Turkey?
RT:Why would the West be interested in intervening in Syria? Is there a broader regional agenda?
YA: My understanding is that I see two sides of the story, how the West sees it. First, Syria’s geopolitical alliance with Iran and Hezbollah – and perhaps with Russia. So it is not a Western-friendly country in its current form, and probably the West has realized that with negotiations – with the smooth negotiations with the current system in Syria – things aren’t going to change much. And probably they’ve realized that changing by [force] is the only way forward for them.
The other dimension is the energy. Since 2009, Qatar and Turkey have been talking about a gas line that is to extend from Qatar through Syria through Turkey and feed the EU with gas resources. This is very important, because if this is to happen, it would bypass Russia and it would probably loosen the knot that Russia currently has over the EU in terms of supplying gas to Western countries.
RT:Assad denies he would ever use chemical weapons against his own people – why do the US and UK insist such a threat exists?
YA: This new, orchestrated hype of fear surrounding the possible use of chemical weapons perhaps says something about what is coming next in terms of some chemical weapons use in Syria. However, there is another side to the story. Recently, there have been some troubling videos that we have seen on YouTube and some other reports of the jihadist groups in northern Syria possessing some chemical materials with the name of a Turkish company on them. In the background, there was music playing with some jihadist chants.
It’s worrying. They were conducting some experiments on rabbits, and judging on what we saw, if it is not a bluff, then it is very, very worrying because judging by the effect of this gas, it is convulsive, so it is a nerve agent and it is a dangerous development.
Perhaps if you look at the fact that the United States has recently started blacklisting parts of the Syrian armed opposition as terrorist organizations, that says something – that they are probably aware that part of the armed opposition in Syria, and probably the most powerful opposition, who are the Nusra Front, probably are in the possession of such material and probably are planning to use them.
That video reflects the dangerous ideology of such a group that clearly and explicitly threatens ethnic cleansing against certain sects in Syria. So the danger is that the West is aware of such materials in Syria, but at the same time, it is going to be used against the Syrian government as a pretext for intervention. This is the scenario that worries me.
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