THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views
April 28, 2013
The Independent

Syria and Sarin Gas: US Claims Have a Very Familiar Ring

Reports of the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons are part of a retold drama riddled with plot-holes

by Robert Fisk

Is there any way of escaping the theatre of chemical weapons? First, Israeli "military intelligence" says that Bashar al-Assad's forces have used/have probably used/might have used/could use chemical weapons. Then Chuck Hagel, the US Defence Secretary, pops up in Israel to promise even more firepower for Israel's over-armed military - avoiding any mention of Israel's more than 200 nuclear warheads - and then imbibing all the Israeli "intelligence" on Syria's use/probable use/possible use of chemical weapons. . . .

And since both the regime and its enemies have accused each other of using such weapons, why isn't Chuck as fearful of the rebels as he is of the Assad dictatorship?

It all comes back to that most infantile cliche of all: that the US and Israel fear Assad's chemical weapons "falling into the wrong hands". They are frightened, in other words, that these chemicals might end up in the armoury of the very same rebels, especially the Islamists, that Washington, London, Paris, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are supporting. . . .

But now for a few problems. Phosphorus shells can inflict deep burns, and perhaps cause birth defects. But the Americans do not suggest that the Syrian military might have used phosphorus (which is indeed a chemical); after all, American troops used the very same weapon in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, where there is indeed now an explosion of birth defects. . . .

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"Seven Countries in Five Years"--Gen. Wesley Clark, Commonwealth Club, October 3, 2007

"Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction," Geneva, 3 September 1992

"Syria Regime-Change Project: An Ugly Stalemate," The Wisdom Fund, September 12, 2012

Mariano Castillo and Greg Botelho, "Syria: U.S. manipulating chemical weapons evidence, like it did with Iraq," cnn.com, April 26, 2013

Patrick J. Buchanan, "Who Are the War Criminals in Syria?," antiwar.com, May 7, 2013

[It is clear that the Times has promoted a storyline that treats the chemical weapons claims as more definitive than they are, and has given scant attention to subsequent revelations about the evidence.--"New York Times, sarin and skepticism," fair.org, May 15, 2013]

Alistair Dawber, "UN report claims chemical weapons have been used by both sides in civil war," independent.co.uk, June 4, 2013

Matthew Schofield, "Chemical weapons experts still skeptical about U.S. claim that Syria used sarin," McClatchy, June 14, 2013

[Obama's momentous decision on military intervention in Syria, which could well launch a new Cold War, is a desperate diversionary move when his administration is caught up deep in the cesspool over the Snowden controversy.--M K Bhadrakumar, "Obama's Monica moment," atimes.com, June 14, 2013]

Margaret Besheer, "Russia: Syrian Rebels Used Chemical Weapons in Aleppo," voanews.com, July 9, 2013

[According to John Mueller at Foreign Affairs, "The notion that killing with gas is more reprehensible than killing with bullets or shrapnel came out of World War I," mostly as a result of British propaganda against the Germans.--John Glaser, "Chemical weapons use in Syria is irrelevant," washingtontimes.com, August 22, 2013]

James R. Holmes, "Chemical Weapons are NOT WMDs," thediplomat.com, August 31, 2013

[A number of analysts threatened to resign as a group if their strong dissent was not noted in any report released to the public, forcing both Brennan and Clapper to back down.--Philip Giraldi, "Quitting Over Syria," theamericanconservative.com, November 13, 2013]

[Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts.--Seymour M. Hersh, "Whose sarin?," lrb.co.uk, December 8, 2013]

Robert Parry, "NYT Replays Its Iraq Fiasco in Syria," consortiumnews.com, December 20, 2013

Matthew Schofield, "New analysis of rocket used in Syria chemical attack undercuts U.S. claims," mcclatchydc.com, January 15, 2014

['We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdogan's people to push Obama over the red line,' the former intelligence official said. 'They had to escalate to a gas attack in or near Damascus when the UN inspectors' - who arrived in Damascus on 18 August to investigate the earlier use of gas - 'were there. The deal was to do something spectacular. Our senior military officers have been told by the DIA and other intelligence assets that the sarin was supplied through Turkey - that it could only have gotten there with Turkish support. The Turks also provided the training in producing the sarin and handling it.'--Seymour M. Hersh, "Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdogan and the Syrian rebels," lrb.co.uk, April 6, 2014

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