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‘War on chemical weapons’: Obama traps himself into Syrian combat

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.

Published time: August 28, 2013 20:18
Syrian activists inspect the bodies of people they say were killed by nerve gas in the Ghouta region, in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus August 21, 2013. (Reuters)

Only a few days before the 12th anniversary of 9/11, Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama might be fighting side by side with… al-Qaeda, as he was foolish enough to be trapped by his own rhetoric on Syria.

The dogs of war bark and the caravan… is Tomahawked. Amid out-of-control hysteria, the proverbial “unnamed US officials” spin like demented centrifuges.

Obama’s “kinetic operation” on Syria will fall out of the sky “in the next few days.” It will be “limited,” lasting only “three days,” or “no more than two days.” It will “send a message,” a “short, sharp attack” against less than 50 sites on a list of targets.

But then long-range bombers may “possibly” join the Tomahawk barrage, and all bets are off.  

A proverbial, anonymous “senior administration official” even stressed the “desire to get it done before the president leaves for Russia next week.”

That’s it; we bomb a country like dialing a pizza delivery, and then we go to a G20 summit with the world’s emerging powers hosted by no less than Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. Just because we need to prove that the president of the United States meant what he said: chemical weapons are a red line. And to hell who’s responsible for deploying them. 

I’m not making this up. This is the core of White House spokesman Jay Carney’s message, when he said, in faultless Newspeak: “The options that are being considered do not contain within them a regime change focus.” 

So the administration of “constitutional lawyer” Barack Obama is mulling how to attack Syria, bypassing the UN Security Council – which will veto, via Russia and China, the new resolution proposed by the UK;  bypassing always-docile NATO; and with 91 percent of Americans against it, just to send an (explosive) political message. And all because a US president was foolish enough to get trapped in his own rhetoric. 

U.N. chemical weapons experts visit people affected by an apparent gas attack, at a hospital in the southwestern Damascus suburb of Mouadamiya August 26, 2013. (Reuters)

Remember Iraq? 

Call it a 10th anniversary special: it’s Iraq 2003 all over again.

The attack dog presumably in charge of the Obama administration war brigade is Secretary of State John Kerry. Here, Gareth Porter thoroughly debunks Kerry’s game – and lies. No wonder Kerry’s “Powell moment” has gone viral – as in “deceived” Colin Powell in his infamous February 2003 UN presentation telling the world Saddam Hussein had tons of WMDs. Unlike Powell though, Kerry knows exactly what he’s doing. 

The White House promises a “revelation” from above this Thursday, “above” being the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Yet the heart of the matter is that the UN chemical inspectors have had no time to identify what sort of chemical weapon is involved in the Ghouta attack (sarin or something else); where it was manufactured; how it was delivered (possibly by DIY rockets); and last but not least, who did it.

It’s imperative to remember that Russia presented an 80-page report last month to the UN Security Council detailing serious evidence about the “rebels” being behind the March 19 attack in Khan al-Assal. That’s why the inspectors are in Syria now. So the Obama administration is lying when it insists that it's “too late” for the inspectors to investigate the latest attack.

This time though, Russia may not have collected enough evidence; it's too early. Otherwise Ambassador Vitaly Churkin would be talking to the press, like he did last month

These investigations take time. And the results cannot be fixed around the policy.

‘Fixing’ the facts

Let’s follow a track that is much more plausible than Washington’s official narrative.

Israeli intelligence has leaked to a Kuwaiti newspaper that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Benny Gantz handed over to his good pal US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey “documents and pictures”  as evidence of the Syrian government’s culpability. Arguably, this will be the core of the White House “revelation” this Thursday.

The evidence points to rockets launched from a “Syrian army post near Damascus” – which Finnish researcher Petri Krohn, currently conducting a meticulous investigation, conclusively placed as occupied by the “rebels” since June.  (scroll down to “Qaboun rocket launches”)

Add to it the Defense Ministry in Baghdad, one month ago, dismantling an Al-Qaeda cell in Iraq that was planning to launch attacks in Iraq and “abroad,” as in Syria, using chemical weapons

According to Iraqi national security advisor Faleh al-Fayyadh, Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria) would have free access to these chemicals. 

A Turkish fighter of the jihadist group Al-Nusra Front, bearing the flag of Al-Qaeda on his jacket (C-back), holds position with fellow comrades on April 4, 2013 in the Syrian village of Aziza, on the southern outskirts of Aleppo. (AFP Photo)

So here we have all the elements of a sophisticated false flag operation. Jabhat al-Nusra jihadis, mostly mercenaries, connected to al-Qaeda in Iraq, but with no connection with Syrian civilians, including women and children, use an area formerly occupied by the Syrian army to launch a chemical attack – perhaps using chlorine – under the cover of a Syrian offensive (admitted by the government). The offensive was codenamed “Operation City Shield.” Damascus had solid intel about scores of “rebels” trained by the CIA and the Saudis in Jordan converging to the area and planning a massive attack on the capital. 

Then there is Saudi intel tsar Bandar bin Sultan, aka Bandar Bush’s threat to President Putin in their notorious four-hour meeting earlier this month: The military solution is the only one left for Syria. Bandar, a master of the dark arts, is in charge of “winning” Syria to the House of Saud by all means available, chemical or otherwise. 

Any serious UN chemical weapons inspector would be following this lead as we speak. They might not – because of US political pressure (as in “It’s too late”). They might not because Washington wants the inspections over barely after they started – as in a lightning quick remix, once again, of Iraq 2003; fixing the facts around the policy.  

Deconstructing Obama’s game 

So we have to come back to the policy – as in “we bomb because we want to.” What exactly is Obama’s game?

Tel Aviv's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, as I reported earlier, badly wants Washington to attack Syria’s chemical weapons sites – regardless of possible, horrible, “collateral damage”, not to mention the possibility of al-Qaeda-linked jihadi outfits taking control of some of them.

Israel’s agenda is Syria bleeding in total chaos for the foreseeable future. Which is not the same as the House of Saud’s agenda: regime change. Which is not the same as the Obama administration’s agenda.  At face value, it’s regime change, but Plan B calls for “leveling the playing field,” and that melts into the Israeli agenda.

As for President Obama, establishing a hazy “red line” with no context, just to appease clueless but influential neo-cons, not to mention the liberal hawks/humanitarian interventionists that surround him, and without regard for the consequences; this has to be construed as criminal irresponsibility.

Granted, Obama’s IQ in theory would equip him to know that yet another war of choice in the Middle East is the last thing he needs. At the same time, when we look at his record, we know he doesn’t have the balls to confront the awesome War Party Hydra – also featuring the mini-coalition of the willing, ranging from nostalgic opportunists such as Britain and France to cold-blooded actors pursuing their specific agendas, like Israel and the House of Saud.

And all this after Obama announced he would weaponize the “rebels” – in fact that’s been going on for ages, now fully supervised by Bandar Bush. The infinitely fractious rebel gangs have fractioned even further into sub-gangs of looters and assassins, with the more organized jihadis promising that after the Ghouta attack, they will kill any Alawite in sight. 

 A picture downloaded from the US air force website shows F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 35th and 80th Fighter Squadrons (AFP Photo/US AIR FORCE)

Obama knows these are bit players; the only factor that can deliver another one of his red lines – “Assad must go” – is a US military attack. Crucially, Assad also knows it; that’s why the notion that Assad would sanction a chemical weapons attack is beyond ludicrous.

So if we take the Obama administration at their word – at our own peril – they couldn’t care less about who deployed chemical weapons. Yet at the same time they don’t want regime change. They want a bombing to fulfill a “moral obligation,” and to boost Washington’s horrendously shattered “credibility.” American exceptionalists are even carping on “purity of intent” – as if purity was inherent to cold-blooded, hardcore geopolitical power play.

Both US and Israel assume they have perfect intel – as in knowing exactly where all of Syria’s chemical weapons are stored. Yet if anything could go wrong, it will. We all thought that the “war on terror” could not be topped as a meaningless concept. Wrong: meet the “war on chemical weapons.”

Amid all the hysteria, we’re not even talking about a counterpunch from Damascus itself, Hezbollah, Iran or, crucially, Russia. Moscow and Tehran are playing the chessboard like ninjas – as they clearly see the possibility of Washington being bogged down in a net of its own. All it takes would be a single Onyx SS-N-25, also known as Super-Sunburn SS-22, the fastest hypersonic anti-shipping missile in the world – which is part of Syria’s arsenal – to sink a US warship. Then what? Shock and Awe all over again? 

So if we take the White House at its word, this “limited” kinetic whatever will end in a couple of days. Or it could spiral into something more hellish than Iraq 2003. And then, the clincher; only a few days before the 12th anniversary of 9/11, Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama is fighting side by side with… al-Qaeda. Why? Because, together, they can.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Comments (11)

 

Peter Hirsch 31.08.2013 08:19

A very interesting view. More likely to be the truth than most of what can be found in mainstream journalism and what is served up by the politicians. It does back up claims that the latest atrocity was a false flag operation and reinforces the view of Carla del Ponte in May of this year that the anti-government groups had got hold of Sarin. During the run-up to the Iraq war, it became evident that the neo-cons had obtained control over the intelligence authorities both in the US and the UK. From what the politicians in both countries are saying now, it would seem the same thing has happened again.

 

Andrew Ervin 29.08.2013 13:49

The irony of Obama launching an illegal strike against a sovereign nation, something that he railed against in his campaign, cannot be overlooked.

 

Pablo Schwartz 29.08.2013 12:09

It is refreshing to find some sober commentary on this matter. Contrast Wall Street Journal's Bret (Louis Mortimer Atil) Stephens' insisting that Assad & Family should be lined up and shot (many a Neoconservative waxes nostalgic over the massacre of the Romanovs). Yes, that is what passes for mainstream journalistic opinion in America today ..

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