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by CTuttle

Syria Mashup: UN Report, Missiles in the Med, and Iran

4:53 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Straight out of the gates F/UK/US pointed the finger at Assad…

U.N. report on sarin attack in Syria points to Assad, envoys say

…U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declined to say whether rocket fragments and other physical evidence collected from a Damascus suburban area by U.N. investigators made it clear whether it was the Assad regime or the rebels fighting him who launched the sarin gas attacks.

But U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and British U.N. envoy Mark Lyall Grant stated unequivocally that the inspectors’ findings confirmed their conclusions that it was Assad who was behind the worst chemical weapons attack in 25 years.

‘The mandate of the chemical weapons team was not to investigate culpability, but the technical details of the United Nations report make clear that only the regime could have carried out this large-scale chemical weapons attack,’ Power told reporters after Ban briefly discussed the report.

Among the weapons fragments and components recovered from the scene of the attacks were pieces of 122-millimeter rockets that the regime has relied on heavily throughout the civil war and that the rebels are not known to possess, Power said.

She also dismissed a claim by the Assad government that insurgents infiltrated regime-controlled areas of the capital to launch the poison gas strikes as a scenario that ‘defies logic.’

Grant said the type of rockets used in the attacks and the area from which they were fired confirmed that ‘there is no remaining doubt that it was the regime’ that attacked with prohibited munitions.

‘Even at first glance, the report reinforces the view that the British government has held for a long time that it was the regime’s responsibility,’ he told reporters.

Both Western envoys noted the sarin attacks near Damascus were the most wide-scale violation of the chemical weapons ban since Iraqi President Saddam Hussein attacked Kurds with poison gas in 1988.

Russia’s U.N. envoy, Vitaly Churkin, expressed outrage at the confirmed use of chemical weapons in the attacks nearly a month ago but warned that ‘allegations that the opposition has used chemical weapons cannot be shrugged off.’

And, here’s the forseen French response… France: UN report indicates Syrian regime was ‘guilty’ in deadly chemical weapons attack.

Now, as Jim White pointed out…

Working Thread: UN Chemical Weapon Report on Syria Released

…But of course, these inspections came on August 26 in Moadamiyah and August 28 and 29 in Zamalka, so 5 to 8 days passed between the attack and the analysis. The key point to keep in mind when considering the rocket evidence is this:

Limitations:
The time necessary to conduct a detailed survey of both locations as well as take samples was very limited. The sites have been well travelled by other individuals both before and during the investigation. Fragments and other possible evidence have clearly been handled/moved prior to the arrival of the investigation team.

People had plenty of time to move things around before the UN inspectors came onto the site. The possibility that evidence has been manipulated cannot be ruled out…

From Arms Control WonkCWC Challenge Inspections: Syria as the Test Case?

Btw, the UN also had this to report today… UN: Libyan weapons being smuggled to Syria.

Now, Phil Greaves penned a great read on Syria today(h/t b @ MOA)! It is a long read so I will only highlight what I’ve suspected for some time, but, couldn’t quite put my finger on it…

Syria: Has Obama forsaken the insurgency?

Last throw of the Dice: missiles in the Med.

On September the 3rd, two days prior to the G20 summit in St Petersburg, the world awoke to reports that Russia’s defensive radar systems had detected two ballistic “objects” launched from the central Mediterranean on a flight path toward Syria’s eastern coast, where Russian navy ships currently reside; the missiles post-launch had apparently “fell into the sea”. At the time the finger was immediately pointed to Israel – who have attacked Syria at least three times with impunity in the past year alone – or possibly the United States, whose large Naval presence in the Med seemed the obvious primary suspect. Curiously, both Israel and the United States denied responsibility when the Russian reports were first released, then, only a few hours later Israel claimed responsibility for an apparent joint “test” launch with the Pentagon of a defensive missile system. The sheer recklessness of such an act – even if the innocent explanation were true – is hard to explain in such a circumstance. The US eventually confirmed the Israeli line that it was indeed a “test” missile launch with US assistance; after having first denied any knowledge of the incident.

The most likely explanation is Israel or the US were attempting to test Syria’s coastal defenses prior to any possible attack, but to do this without giving any notice to Russia in such a tense scenario seems reckless to say the least. Russian diplomats have repeatedly hinted that Russia would “help” Syria militarily in the event of a missile strike. It is quite possible that this incident was indeed an Israeli/US provocation in an attempt to garner a response from Syria, and in turn instigate a wider campaign. A report from Lebanese daily As Safir takes it one step further:

A well-informed diplomatic source told As-Safir newspaper that “the US war on Syria had started and ended the moment those two ballistic missiles were fired,… The source further told the Lebanese daily that “the US forces fired these two rockets from a NATO base in Spain, and were instantly detected by the Russian radars and confronted by the Russian defense systems, so one of them exploded in the airspace and the second one diverted towards the sea.” In this context, the source pointed out that “the statement issued by the Russian Defense Ministry, which stated the detection of two ballistic missiles fired towards the Middle East, intended to neglect two points: the first was the location from which the two rockets were fired, and the second was their downing. Why? Because the moment the full military operation was launched, Head of the Russian Intelligence Service contacted the US intelligence and informed it that “hitting Damascus means hitting Moscow, and we have removed the term “downed the two missiles” from the statement to preserve the bilateral relations and to avoid escalation. Therefore, you must immediately reconsider your policies, approaches and intentions on the Syrian crisis, as you must be certain that you cannot eliminate our presence in the Mediterranean.”

Whether this account of events holds true or not, at the very least the missile launch appears to be an intentional provocation by either Israel or Washington, in a last-ditch attempt to incite retaliation and salvage the now broken strategy against Assad. Either way, Russia’s decision to quickly publicise the detection and subsequent flip-flop of denial and acceptance from Israel bolsters the theory in the As Safir report: why would Israel accept responsibility for this provocative “test”, yet deny responsibility for every other act of aggression they commit unimpeded? Could it have been to save the face of another defeated attempt to continue the war? It was following this incident, that Obama and Putin were due to meet at the G20 conference. With both leaders eager to go into any negotiations on Syria from a position of power at such a crucial stage, it also adds to the theory that Obama was in a rush to commence the war before opposition became too overbearing; as indeed it now evidently has.

Apparently, Kerry pointed out the basic facts on the ground to Bibi yesterday…

Why Israel hails Syria chemical weapons deal

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called a tentative US-Russian agreement on dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal a breakthrough that could weaken Iran.

Why is it always Iran, Iran, Iran with the Ziocons…?

I’ll betcha this stroke of genius by Rouhani, has Bibi’s britches in a bind…

Iran said ready to dismantle underground nuclear facility

Rouhani might offer to close Fordo if West eases sanctions, Der Spiegel reports, based on intelligence sources; Israel has yet to respond.

I wonder if Putin is behind it… Putin to visit Iran for first time in six years.

In summing up, Israel fears it may be asked to surrender its CW after Syria. Ya think…? And. AIPAC is already backpedaling…

Pro-Israel groups suspend lobby for Syria strike

Jewish organizations maintain their support for Congressional authorization of military force despite the pending US-Russia deal

…A spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which organized a Capitol Hill blitz last week aimed at persuading Congress to back a strike, confirmed Monday that lobbying has been suspended for now.

The American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, which also had been involved in the lobbying, said they would suspend lobbying, too.

“We sent many messages over the last week and a half; we are not formulating new letters to the Hill,” Jason Isaacson, the AJC’s director of international affairs, told JTA. “Our message is out there should it be required.”

Glimmers of hope appear, pups…!

by CTuttle

Syria Mashup: ‘Group Think’, House of Saud, and The UN

11:42 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

With numerous articles and Airheads asserting that the UN report, which will be released Monday(and not a moment sooner FP!) will point it’s finger at Assad, let me remind them what the UN’s mission really was…!

UN inspectors examine Syria poison gas allegations

Damascus has allowed UN chemical weapons inspectors access to areas allegedly attacked with poison gas last week. The mission is to determine whether an attack actually took place – but not who was responsible.

What is clear, however, is that a major propagandistic tug-of-war is taking place concerning the claimed use of chemical weapons and alleged perpetrators. {…}

Good chance of clarification

The UN mission stands a good chance to clarify issues surrounding the most recent poison gas attack, said Jan van Aken, a Left Party member of German parliament. “By examining survivors, the inspectors in Syria can easily determine whether poison gas was used or not,” van Aken told DW. “They can tell within minutes. A bit later, after the lab work is done, they can presumably say which poison was used – or if in fact this was a chemical weapons attack at all.”

Propaganda and facts

The UN mission may not, however, answer one key question: “The inspectors can only say whether chemical weapons were used, but not who did it,” van Aken said, adding that the political propaganda battle has already begun.

According van Aken, technical evidence would not help pinpoint who was behind the attacks. The situation in Syria is too complex to allow clear-cut conclusions, he says. “Even if you find the remnants of a Syrian missile with traces of a nerve agent, you still don’t know whether Assad’s troops fired it, or whether opposition rebels seized it during an attack on an army base somewhere in the north, and later employed it.”

So, lets look at some basic facts… Turkish prosecutor: Syria rebels ordered 10 tons of sarin nerve agent in Turkey…

On May 28 Turkish security forces found a 2-kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of terrorists from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front who were previously detained.

According to media reports, sarin gas was found in the homes of suspected Syrian militants detained in provinces of Adana and Mersia following a search by Turkish police.

Five Turks and a Syrian citizen, named Haitam Kassapwho, who were arrested on the case for allegations of buying chemical weapons in Turkey, have pleaded not guilty, according to the English-language Hurriyet Daily News, which quoted from the indictment.

Prosecution attorney objected the ruling and presented the court with a 132-page document which contained evidence of the suspects’ links to terrorist groups in Syria including al-Nusra Front and al-Qaeda-linked Islamic States on Iraq and Levant (Ahrar al-Sham), a report by the Voice of Russia said.

The document says that radical Salafis groups set up a channel for carrying out terrorist attacks inside Turkey.

According to the document al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham group had tried to buy large amounts of sarin nerve gas and chemical substances used in manufacturing poisonous materials.

The prosecution believes that the suspects have links to Syrian groups close to al-Qaeda and their leaders and were buying chemical materials from Turkey to send into Syria.

Citing telephone calls made by the suspects, the document shows they ordered at least ten tons of chemicals in total.

Now, let’s not forget this previous article… Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack

Here’s a newer report… New granular evidence points to Saudi role in chemical weapons attack

As Col. Wilkerson noted in the above video clip, the ‘paucity of evidence’ coming from the White House is very troublesome…! Cherry-picked even…? And, as Col. Lang wrote recently…

The administration’s case against Syria over the 21st of August disaster is gradually disintegrating. It will continue to do so. pl

Which brings me to Robert Parry’s excellent article…

Rewarding ‘Group Think’ on Syria

“Group think” is alive and well in Official Washington, with virtually all the important pundits marching in lock-step with the Obama administration’s accusations against the Syrian government and everyone fuming over an Op-Ed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, observes Robert Parry.

…Nearly every U.S. pundit and politician – from neocon to liberal – is charging off in the same direction, accepting undocumented U.S. government claims about Syria’s alleged chemical attack on Aug. 21 as undeniably true and deriding Russian President Vladimir Putin for a New York Times Op-Ed that had the audacity to defend the Nuremberg principles against aggressive war. {…}

Buying the Official Story

Beyond reflecting the conventional wisdom’s contempt for Putin, Robinson, like nearly every major U.S. opinion-leader, has accepted the U.S. government’s version of events regarding the alleged chemical attack on a Damascus suburb on Aug. 21.

Though the Obama administration has not released a single piece of verifiable evidence to support its “Government Assessment” fingering the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Robinson and his colleagues now report those assertions as flat fact, including the strange calculation that precisely “1,429” people died from poison gas. Other estimates have cited several hundred deaths, and the U.S. government has not explained the provenance of its number.

Yet, the U.S. tally of the dead and other claims are good enough for the American pundit class, evidence not required…

However, concealing shaky evidence to induce a public consensus is not ideally how a democracy should work, especially on a question as weighty as war or peace. And it is not how an independent press corps is supposed to work, accepting evidence-free assertions from the government as fact, rather than joining in demands for the maximum possible exposure of the evidence.

If, as some expect, the United Nations inspectors next week side with the U.S. government in pointing the finger at the Assad regime for the Aug. 21 attack, more and more ridicule will be heaped on those of us who pointed out that the Obama administration was withholding its proof.

Indeed, the chest-thumping by those who clambered onto the bandwagon for war has already begun. They might be called the “See-We-Were-Right-to-Be-Credulous” contingent. But some of us will still want to see whatever evidence the UN inspectors and the U.S. intelligence agencies have collected.

Show me the Money…! Err.. Receipts? US: “Never Mind That Guy Eating a Heart, We Have Handwritten Receipts For the Guns”

Let’s remember that Putin submitted his own evidence to the UN, and, Assad has too…! Btw, Putin is getting serious… Russia Sends Three More Warships to Syrian Coast

In summing up, I do happen to agree with Ban ki-Moon that there is ‘overwhelming’ proof that Chemical Weapons were used, but by whom…?

God Bless the Syrians…!

by CTuttle

Syria’s ‘Dead Man Walking’…

4:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As Reuters reported today…

America and Syria’s ‘dead man walking’

…A peaceful solution to Syria’s protracted crisis now looks remote enough to wonder whether Bashar Assad might outlast Obama in power. The US president is not assured of winning another term in office next November. But the odds of the Assad regime surviving into 2013 look better with every passing day, even though one of the US government’s top experts on Syria has labeled the Syrian president a “dead man walking.”

There are several reasons for skepticism about a resolution to the Syrian crisis in the near future. One is the government’s military superiority over fractured and lightly-equipped opposition forces. More importantly, there is no international consensus on how to deal with what began 14 months ago as peaceful demonstrations against a 40-year family dictatorship and now includes huge suicide bombings of government targets that have raised suspicions of Al-Qaeda involvement.

At the summit of the G8 — the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, Canada and Japan —an aide to Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev made clear, again, that Moscow, unlike the West, does not see Assad’s departure as a necessary step toward ending the bloodshed.

“Some may like or dislike the Syrian government but one cannot avoid a question — if Assad goes, who will replace him?”
said Mikhail Margelov…

A very savvy question, indeed…

Beyond Bashar, Syria’s rebels are facing far more significant resistance

…China, Russia and Iran support for Bashar Assad makes a Western military intervention in Syria impossible, given the likely catastrophic repercussions for all concerned. In the eyes of this coalition, Assad is a tool and pretext. He is the façade against which the courage of the insurgents will continue to collide as long as Russia and its allies on the one side, and the United States and its allies on the other, fail to dispassionately settle their differences, therefore reach agreement over their contending interests, through negotiations…

Negotiations…? What negotiations…

U.S. considering plan that arms Syrian rebels…

…The effort, U.S. officials told The Associated Press, would vet members of the Free Syrian Army and other groups to determine whether they are suitable recipients of munitions to fight the Assad government and to ensure that weapons don’t wind up in the hands of al-Qaida-linked terrorists or other extremist groups such as Hezbollah that could target Israel.

The plan, which has not yet been finalized, reflects U.S. frustration that none of the previous efforts — including diplomatic rhetoric from the United Nations and the multinational Friends of Syria group, and special envoy Kofi Annan’s plan for a cease-fire — has even begun to nudge President Bashar al-Assad from power. The vetting would be the first tiny step the U.S. has made toward ensuring that the Syrian opposition uses the weapons to fight Assad and not to turn it into a full sectarian conflict.

While some intelligence analysts worry that there may be no suitable recipients of lethal aid in the Syria conflict, the vetting plan has arisen as the least objectionable idea in a complicated situation…

As Steve Hynd wrote… US To Vet Syrian Rebel Arms Recipients – Really?

So if this vetting will prevent Saudis funding arms for Al Qaeda (yeah, right) how far beyond that will it go? The chances of arming some pretty nasty people that have the only virtue of being not-AQ are pretty high.

A United Nations investigation said Syrian government forces and rebels trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad had both committed serious human rights abuses despite an attempted ceasefire in the conflict and opposition activists reported fighting in several regions on Thursday.

…The rebels, who are increasingly armed and well-organized, have executed or tortured captured soldiers and government supporters, it said. They have also abducted civilians in an apparent bid to secure prison exchanges or ransoms.

It doesn’t matter how many bad ideas you pile on top of other bad ideas, the result will never be a good idea.

Remember, it’s not just our grubby fingers at work, but, the House of Saud/GCC’s too… Syrian rebels get influx of arms with gulf neighbors’ money, U.S. coordination…

Meanwhile, the UN’s Ban Ki Moon spewed this nonsense today on CNN…

‘We have no Plan B’ to stop the violence

…With the carnage in Syria that has left thousands dead now entering its fifteenth month, the United Nations Secretary General says there is no clear path beyond the current mission being led by Kofi Annan.

“At this time, we don’t have any plan B,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview for ‘Amanpour’ on CNN International. “The joint special envoy Kofi Annan has proposed six peace proposals, among which the complete cessation of violence is number one. Unfortunately, this has not been implemented while with the deployment of monitoring missions, we have seen some dampening effect.”

Many regard the Annan mission in Syria to be a failure already.

There will be discussions in the Security Council next week about the situation in Syria Mr. Ban said, and he will make a report about the situation. But the lack of cooperation from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is making the situation very difficult…

God Bless the Syrian People, from all our misguided ministrations…!

*gah*