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09-02-2013, 12:39 PM #1
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Yes, the Syrian Rebels DO Have Access to Chemical Weapons
Yes, the Syrian Rebels DO Have Access to Chemical Weapons
Posted on September 2, 2013 by WashingtonsBlog
One of the U.S. government’s main justifications for its claim that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack is that the rebels don’t have chemical weapons.
However, multiple lines of evidence show that the rebels do have chemical weapons.
Potential Looting of Syrian Weapons
The Washington Post noted last December:
U.S. officials are increasingly worried that Syria’s weapons of mass destruction could fall into the hands of Islamist extremists, rogue generals or other uncontrollable factions.
Last week, fighters from a group that the Obama administration has branded aterrorist organization were among rebels who seized the Sheik Suleiman military base near Aleppo, where research on chemical weapons had been conducted. Rebels are also closing in on another base near Aleppo, known as Safirah, which has served as a major production center for such munitions, according to U.S. officials and analysts.
A former Syrian general who once led the army’s chemical weapons training program said that the main storage sites for mustard gas and nerve agents are supposed to be guarded by thousands of Syrian troops but that they would be easily overrun.
The sites are not secure, retired Maj. Gen. Adnan Silou, who defected to the opposition in June, said in an interview near Turkey’s border with Syria. “Probablyanyone from the Free Syrian Army or any Islamic extremist group could take them over,” he said.
As the Syrian opposition steadily makes territorial gains, U.S. officials and analysts said the odds are increasing that insurgents will seize control of a chemical weapons site or that Syrian troops guarding the installations will simply abandon their posts.
“It’s almost inevitable,” [Michael Eisenstadt, a retired Army officer who directs the military and security studies program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy] said. “It may have already happened, for what we know.”
Last week, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said the al-Nusra Front — an anti-Assad group that has been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States and is also known as Jabhat al-Nusra — had seized a chlorine factory near the town of Safirah, east of Aleppo. “Terrorist groups may resort to using chemical weapons against the Syrian people,” the ministry cautioned.
AP hit the nail on the head when it wrote:
Questions remaining about who actually controls some of Syria’s chemical weapons stores ….
A report by the Office of the Director for National Intelligence outlining that evidence against Syria includes a few key caveats — including acknowledging that the U.S. intelligence community no longer has the certainty it did six months ago of where the regime’s chemical weapons are stored ….
U.S. and allied spies have lost track of who controls some of the country’s chemical weapons supplies, according to the two intelligence officials and two other U.S. officials.
U.S. analysts … are also not certain that when they saw what looked like Assad’s forces moving chemical supplies, those forces were able to remove everything before rebels took over an area where weapons had been stored.
Looting of Libyan Chemical Weapons
U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad’s orders, or even completely sure it was carried out by government forces, the officials said.
Another possibility that officials would hope to rule out: that stocks had fallen out of the government’s control and were deployed by rebels in a callous and calculated attempt to draw the West into the war.
Fox News reported in 2011:
The Wall Street Journal noted in 2011:
In August, Fox News interviewed Rep. Mike Rogers, R.-Mich., who said he saw a chemical weapon stockpile in the country during a 2004 trip. At the time, he said the U.S. was concerned about “thousands of pounds of very active mustard gas.”
He also said there is some sarin gas that is unaccounted for.
The highly-regarded NTI reported the same year:
Spread across the desert here off the Sirte-Waddan road sits one of the biggest threats to Western hopes for Libya: a massive, unguarded weapons depot that is being pillaged daily by anti-Gadhafi military units, hired work crews and any enterprising individual who has the right vehicle and chooses to make the trip.
In one of dozens of warehouses the size of a single-family home, Soviet-era guided missiles remain wrapped inside crates stacked to the 15-foot ceiling. In another, dusted with sand, are dozens of sealed cases labeled “warhead.” Artillery rounds designed to carry chemical weapons are stashed in the back of another. Rockets, antitank grenades and projectiles of all calibers are piled so high they defy counting….
Convoys of armed groups from all over Libya have made the trek here and piled looted weapons into trailer trucks, dump trucks, buses and even empty meat trucks….
The Telegraph reported last year:
In the desert near Sirte, there was no security for dozens of small armories at the complex, where weapons are removed every day by opposition fighters, paid contractors and others. In one structure, the word “warhead” was stamped on dozens of sealed containers. At another depot, empty chemical agent munitions were found.
There is at present no viable Libyan government-sanctioned force with the capacity to keep freelancer fighters from taking what they please from the warehouses, according to the Journal.
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) visited the Libyan capital, where he said gaining control over the country’s armories was a “very big topic.”
“We have a game plan to secure the weapon caches, particularly biological and chemical weapons,” McCain said.
Al Qaeda terrorists in North Africa could be in possession of chemical weapons, a leading Spanish intelligence officer said on Monday.
The head of National Police counter-terrorist intelligence, Commissioner-General Enrique Baron, told a strategic security conference in Barcelona that it was believed that the self-styled Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb – AQMI – could have acquired such arms in Libya or elsewhere during the Arab Spring last year.
Commissioner Baron told his audience: “The Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb has acquired and used very powerful conventional arms and probably also has non-conventional arms, basically chemical, as a result of the loss of control of arsenals.”
The most likely place where this could have happened was in Libya during the uprising which overthrew the Gaddafi regime, said Commissioner Baron.
In his position as the head of Spanish National Police intelligence the Commissioner-General works closely with MI6, the CIA and other Western European intelligence services.
Remember, the head of the Libyan rebels admitted that the rebels were largely Al Qaeda. CNN, theTelegraph, the Washington Times, and many other mainstream sources confirm that Al Qaeda terrorists from Libya have since flooded into Syria to fight the Assad regime … bringing their arms with them. And the post-Gaddafi Libyan government is also itself a top funder and arms supplier of the Syrian opposition. (CNN notes that the CIA may have had a hand in this operation.)
A reporter who has written extensively for Associated Press, BBC and National Public Radio reports thatlocals in the area hit by chemical weapons allege that Saudi Arabia supplied the chemicals. And see this.
Bush administration official Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson and British MP George Galloway speculate that Israel or another country may have given chemical weapons to the Syrian rebels.
We don’t know which countries did or didn’t give chemical weapons to the rebels. The point is that there are quite a few opportunities or possibilities.
Evidence of Possession and Use
The above, of course, is simply speculation. More important is actual evidence of possession and use.
Turkish state newspaper Zaman reported earlier this year (Google translation):
Haaretz reported on March 24th, “Jihadists, not Assad, apparently behind reported chemical attack in Syria“.
The Turkish General Directorate of Security … seized 2 kg of sarin gas in the city of Adana in the early hours of yesterday morning. The chemical weapons were in the possession of Al Nusra terrorists believed to have been heading for Syria.
UN investigator Carla Del Ponte said that there is strong evidence that the rebels used chemical weapons, but that there is not evidence that the government used such weapons:
There is also evidence that the rebels have recently used chemical weapons. See this and this.
No wonder experts are skeptical.
Last edited by AirborneSapper7; 09-02-2013 at 12:52 PM.
09-02-2013, 12:50 PM #2
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Caveman Credibility and its Costs
Posted on September 2, 2013 by DavidSwanson
Sending a bunch of $3 million missiles into Syria to blow stuff up will kill a great many men, women, and children directly. It will also kill a great many people indirectly, as violence escalates in response — an established pattern recognized even by the war-promoting Washington Post.
Refugees are fleeing Syria in greater numbers as a result of the U.S. government’s threat to send in missiles. The refugees have all sorts of opinions of their government, but by many accounts they overwhelmingly oppose foreign missile strikes — a position on which they agree with a large majority in the United States.
Not only is President Obama’s proposal guaranteed to make things worse, but it risks making things dramatically worse, with threats of retaliation now coming from Syria, Iran, and Russia. The U.S. media is already describing the proposed missile strikes as “retaliatory,” even though the United States hasn’t been attacked. Imagine what the pressure will be in Washington to actually retaliate if violence leads, as it so often does, to more violence. Imagine the enthusiasm for a broader war, in Washington and Jerusalem, if Iran retaliates. Risking a major war, no matter how slim you think the chance is, ought to be done only for some incredibly important reason.
The White House doesn’t have one. President Obama’s draft resolution for Congress reads, in part:“Whereas, the objective of the United States’ use of military force in connection with this authorization should be to deter, disrupt, prevent, and degrade the potential for, future uses of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction;In other words, the missiles have nothing to do with ending the war. The war will only end through peace negotiations. All parties should “urgently” and “constructively” pursue that process. And yet, here come the missiles!
“Whereas, the conflict in Syria will only be resolved through a negotiated political settlement, and Congress calls on all parties to the conflict in Syria to participate urgently and constructively in the Geneva process;”
Missile strikes will enrage the Syrian government and encourage the opposition. Both sides will fight more fiercely. Both sides will be more seriously tempted to use any weapons in their arsenals. Missiles will prolong and escalate the war.
Steps toward ending the war could include: halting CIA and other military assistance; pressuring Russia and Iran, on one side, and Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states on the other, to stop arming the war; and bringing both sides to a peace conference in Geneva. Is the United States urgently and constructively taking these steps? Of course not.
What about basic humanitarian aid? The U.S. government is just not interested in providing it, not on anything remotely approaching the scale of the weaponry flowing into the war.
President Obama’s stated objective is to deter the future use of chemical weapons. But missiles may encourage that very thing by escalating the war. There are other steps that could be used to reduce the future use of chemical weapons. For one thing, the United States could stop using, developing, and stock-piling chemical weapons. Most nations do not do so. The White House and the U.S. media have begun saying that Syria holds the biggest chemical weapons supply “in the Middle East,” rather than “in the world,” as President Obama said last week. The world-record-holder is the U.S. government.
The U.S. government has admitted to using white phosphorous and new types of napalm as weapons against Iraqis. The best way to discourage that behavior is not to bomb Washington.
The U.S. government has used chemical weapons against “its own people” (always far more outrageous in the eyes of the U.S. media than killing someone else’s people) from the military’s assault on veterans in the Bonus Army to the FBI’s assault on a religious cult in Waco, Texas. The best way to discourage this behavior is not to bomb Washington.
The U.S. could also stop supporting the use of chemical weapons by certain nations, including Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iranians. The U.S. could sign onto and support the International Criminal Court. And the U.S. could abandon its role as top weapons supplier to the world and leading war-maker on earth. Less war means less use of all weapons, including various internationally sanctioned weapons that the United States both uses and exports, such as cluster bombs and depleted uranium.
Obama’s intention to “disrupt,” “prevent,” and “degrade” can be taken seriously only at the risk of much higher casualties, as sending missiles into supplies of chemical weapons is extremely risky.
CREDIBILITY: LA COSA NOSTRA
The purpose of missile strikes, according to the corporate U.S. media is, of course, not the reduction of chemical weapons use, but the maintenance of “credibility.”
We don’t all teach our children that when they disagree with another child on the playground they must either murder that child or lose their credibility. But our televisions and newspapers feed that type of message to us nonetheless, through news about the next possible war. Julie Pace of the Associated Press warns:“For more than a week, the White House had been barreling toward imminent military action against Syria. But President Barack Obama’s abrupt decision to instead ask Congress for permission left him with a high-risk gamble that could devastate his credibility if no action is ultimately taken in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack that crossed his own ‘red line’.”And here I would have thought that bombing countries in the name of “democracy” against the will of an overwhelming majority at home was costing our government what little credibility it might have had. Didn’t Britain gain in credibility when its Parliament represented its people and said “No” to war on Syria? Doesn’t that step do more for the image of democracy in Western Asia than a decade of destabilizing Iraq has done? Couldn’t the U.S. government do more for democracy by leaving Syria alone and dropping its support for brutal governments in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, etc.?
THE LAW PROBLEM
And shouldn’t a credible enforcer of the rule of law obey the law? Under no possible conception is it legal for the United States to send missiles into Syria. The Kellogg-Briand Pact bans any such action. The most common excuse for ignoring that ban is the U.N. Charter and its loopholes for wars (wars that are defensive or U.N.-authorized). A U.S. attack on Syria is not defensive, and the White House isn’t seriously pretending it is. A U.S. attack on Syria is not U.N. authorized, and the White House isn’t pretending it is or pursuing such authorization in any way. Other U.S. wars carried out in violation of these laws have put up a pretense of internationalism by cajoling some other countries to help out in minimal ways. In this case, that isn’t happening. President Obama is proposing to uphold international norms through an action that the international community of nations is against. France looks like the only possible, and at this point unlikely, partner — not counting al Qaeda, of course.
A president also cannot go to war without Congress. So, it is encouraging that President Obama has now suggested he will try to rise to the standard of George W. Bush and bother to lie to Congress before launching a war. But if Congress were to say yes, the war would remain illegal under both the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact. And if Congress were to say no, President Obama has indicated that he might just launch the war anyway.
If you look at the resolution that Obama has proposed that Congress pass, it doesn’t grant permission for a specific limited missile strike on a particular country at a particular time, but for limitless warfare, as long as some connection can be made to weapons of mass destruction in the Syrian conflict. The White House has made clear that it believes this will add exactly nothing to its powers, as it already possesses open-ended authorizations for war in the never-repealed Afghanistan and Iraq authorizations, which themselves added exactly nothing to White House war powers, because the president is given total war power through the Constitution in invisible ink that only the White House can see.
Already, there are moves in Congress to re-write Obama’s draft, in order to — in fact — give him limited powers to strike Syria. But those limited powers will allow exactly the disastrous action discussed above. And there is no reason to believe the limitation will hold. President Obama used a limited U.N. resolution to do things it never authorized in Libya. Missiles into Syria that provoke a response from Iran will provoke screams for blood out of Congress and the White House, and all laws be damned.
THE LYING PROBLEM
All of the above remains the same whether the Syrian government used chemical weapons or not. The way to end a war is to arrange a cease-fire, de-escalate, disarm, cool tensions, and start talking. Pouring gasoline on a fire doesn’t put it out. The way to uphold the rule of law is by consistent example and through prosecutions by courts, not vigilantism. This remains the case whether the Syrian government has done what President Obama claims or not.
It is important, however, that so few people around the world and in the United States are willing to take Obama’s word for it. If Obama’s goal is to “send a message,” but most people in the Middle East disagree with him on the facts, what kind of message will he possibly be sending? That is, even if his claims happen to be true, what good is that if nobody believes U.S. war justifications anymore?
The super-healthy skepticism that has now been created is not all attributable to Iraq. The world has been flooded with false claims from the U.S. government during the wars on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and even Syria, as well as during the drone wars. Past claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons have fallen flat. And the current claims come packages in lies, including lies about the Syrian government’s willingness to allow U.N. inspections, and the speed with which it allowed them. The U.S. government discouraged the use of inspectors, seeking to rush into war on the basis of its own assertions. The White House has produced a dodgy dossier lacking in hard evidence. Analysts see little basis for confidence in White House claims. Insiders are risking “espionage!” accusations to voice their doubts.
And should it be true that someone in the Syrian military used chemical weapons, the White House clearly has nothing but its own suspicions and desires to suggest that the order came from the top, rather than from some rogue officer with an interest in provoking an attack. Circumstantial evidence, of course, makes that more likely, given the bizarre circumstance of the incident occurring less than 10 miles from the U.N. inspectors’ hotel on the day they arrived.
Maybe it’s just too difficult to hold a proper investigation during a war. If so, that is not something to be deeply regretted. Obama’s proposed response would be disastrous. Our priority should be avoiding it and ending the war. Creating a better climate for criminal investigations is just one more reason to bring the war to an end.
THE MILITARY PROBLEM
While hawks and profiteers within and without the U.S. military favor bombing Syria and just about any other military action one might propose, many are resisting. They include the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and numerous officials risking Edward Snowden / Chelsea Manning treatment by talking to the Washington Post, and others to the New York Times. The military does not clearly understand its new proposed role as punisher of a crime that it itself regularly commits, and it does not share in Obama’s claimed confidence that a limited action will remain limited.
THE CONGRESS PROBLEM
House Speaker John Boehner asked President Obama these as-yet-mostly-unanswered questions:· What standard did the Administration use to determine that this scope of chemical weapons use warrants potential military action?In fact, the White House has been clear that it has no intention to shift momentum in the war.
· Does the Administration consider such a response to be precedent-setting, should further humanitarian atrocities occur?
· What result is the Administration seeking from its response?
· What is the intended effect of the potential military strikes?
· If potential strikes do not have the intended effect, will further strikes be conducted?
· Would the sole purpose of a potential strike be to send a warning to the Assad regime about the use of chemical weapons? Or would a potential strike be intended to help shift the security momentum away from the regime and toward the opposition?
· If it remains unclear whether the strikes compel the Assad regime to renounce and stop the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people, or if President Assad escalates their usage, will the Administration contemplate escalatory military action?In fact, the White House is claiming that none of these disasters will occur. But the Speaker is clearly well aware that they might.
· Will your Administration conduct strikes if chemical weapons are utilized on a smaller scale?
· Would you consider using the United States military to respond to situations or scenarios that do not directly involve the use or transfer of chemical weapons?
· Assuming the targets of potential military strikes are restricted to the Assad inner circle and military leadership, does the Administration have contingency plans in case the strikes disrupt or throw into confusion the command and control of the regime’s weapons stocks?
· Does the Administration have contingency plans if the momentum does shift away from the regime but toward terrorist organizations fighting to gain and maintain control of territory?
· Does the Administration have contingency plans to deter or respond should Assad retaliate against U.S. interests or allies in the region?
· Does the Administration have contingency plans should the strikes implicate foreign power interests, such as Iran or Russia?
· Does the Administration intend to submit a supplemental appropriations request to Congress, should the scope and duration of the potential military strikes exceed the initial planning?The proposed limited strikes, using Raytheon’s $3-million Tomahawk missiles (tastefully named for a weapon of a people the U.S. military ethnically cleansed) is expected to cost many millions and possibly $1 billion, should nothing go wrong. That money, spent on aid for victims of this war, rather than on escalating the violence, could save a large number of lives. Failure to so spend it is an immoral act.
Over 40,000 people already chose to click here to tell Congress and the president not to attack Syria.
Already it’s making a difference. Our actions so far have helped compel President Obama to seek Congressional authorization before any attack.
Now we have a week to work with.
We start with a majority of the public on our side. We have to hold off a flood of pro-war propaganda, and we have to compel Congress to represent us. And we can do this.
The first step is to click here and add your voice.
Second, please send this to everyone you think might add their voice as well.
Third, organize locally to pressure your Congress member and senators, while they are in their districts and states this week, to commit to voting “No” on a U.S. attack on Syria.
We who reject arguments for war are a majority now. We are a majority in Britain, where Parliament has already voted “No.” We are a majority in Germany, which will not take part. We are a majority in France, where Parliament will be heard from soon. And we are a majority in the United States. Let Congress hear from you now!
The terrible and widespread killing in Syria will become even more terrible and more widespread if the U.S. military launches an attack. The White House has no proposal to win a war, only to inject greater violence into a war, prolonging and escalating it.
Contrary to White House claims, Congress cannot authorize war and support a peace process at the same time. Escalating the violence will block, rather than facilitate, peace. Congress is going to have to choose.
Albert Camus summarized the choice now before us: “In such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners.”
Click here to oppose a military attack on Syria, and to urge Congress and the president instead to work for a ceasefire, to pressure Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Turkey, to halt the flow of weapons, and to pressure Russia and Iran to do the same.
Starting September 9th, if you can, be in Washington, D.C., to prevent this war.
09-02-2013, 01:43 PM #3
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FSA has 'Osama bin Laden' Brigade
Video at the Page Link: http://www.military.com/video/operat...2399706179001/
This video footage from Damascus shows a brigade calling itself Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda chief and founder. This brigade belongs to the Souqour Dimashq (Hawks of Damascus) Battalion of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Western countries have been claiming that the FSA is comprised of somewhat secular people and that jihadists have only joined the fight but they are not part of the FSA. Well, you cannot get more al-Qaeda'ish than calling a brigade Osama bin Laden.
MORE ABOUT: terrorism, editors' picks, free syrian army, shock & awe, combat,damascus, syria, Osama Bin Laden, al-qaeda