AuthorTopic: The Syria Desk  (Read 57303 times)

Offline RE

  • Administrator
  • Chief Cook & Bottlewasher
  • *****
  • Posts: 40266
    • View Profile
Re: The Syria Desk
« Reply #150 on: September 02, 2013, 04:33:49 PM »
You can breathe a Sigh of Relief.

Elvis sees escalation of the Syrian War as unlikely.  From Economic Undertow:

Quote from: Steve from Virginia
For this reason, there is diminishing likelihood of a US or NATO attack on Syria, only saber-rattling to keep the crude price from plunging below cost of production. The consuming world cannot afford to attack Syria, it cannot afford the risk of a wider conflict, it cannot afford for the Saudis and Iranians to launch missiles at each others’ tankers, pipelines, fuel terminals and desalinization plants. As with everything else in this not-quite-so-green Earth, there are diminished returns to war.

RE
Save As Many As You Can

Offline Snowleopard

  • Waitstaff
  • ***
  • Posts: 505
    • View Profile
Re: The Syria Desk
« Reply #151 on: September 02, 2013, 05:29:44 PM »
You can breathe a Sigh of Relief.

Elvis sees escalation of the Syrian War as unlikely.  From Economic Undertow:

Quote from: Steve from Virginia
For this reason, there is diminishing likelihood of a US or NATO attack on Syria, only saber-rattling to keep the crude price from plunging below cost of production. The consuming world cannot afford to attack Syria, it cannot afford the risk of a wider conflict, it cannot afford for the Saudis and Iranians to launch missiles at each others’ tankers, pipelines, fuel terminals and desalinization plants. As with everything else in this not-quite-so-green Earth, there are diminished returns to war.

RE

I dropped in to read Steve's post.  On a somewhat related topic he said:



Quote from: Steve from Virginia
"A strike at the whim of the president without a coalition or support from Congress would be a manifestation of his personal insecurities and weakness of character; like a Macbeth or a murderous barbarian king who orders random subjects be put to death so as to demonstrate to himself and to others that he is indeed king."

I suggested there might be another motive than appearances for consulting with Congress (but my comment did not post):

Quote from: Snowleopard
Not only that...but Al-Queda is an official "enemy" of USA per the continuing state of emergency since 9/11.  This state of emergency and enemy status was renewed/signed by Obama himself.  Since Al-Queda is a significant part of the "syrian rebels" a strike on Syria at the "whim of the president" would give "aid and comfort" to an acknowledged enemy of USA.  ie. It establishes a prima facie legal case for impeaching the president for treason.

Obviously the likelyhood of the president actually being impeached and tried for treason is quite small.  But it is alot smaller if those who must try him for this offense are on record voting for it.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2013, 05:51:21 PM by Snowleopard »
"A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest." -  Simon and Garfunkel

Offline hellsbells

  • Bussing Staff
  • **
  • Posts: 36
    • View Profile
Re: The Syria Desk
« Reply #152 on: September 02, 2013, 06:24:46 PM »
From Snow Leopard - "Obviously the likelyhood of the president actually being impeached and tried for treason is quite small.  But it is alot smaller if those who must try him for this offense are on record voting for it."

True. Very true. Tragically true. They'll all be covering for each other to cover for themselves.  If we could actually start writing indictments on Washington insiders and their cronies and puppet masters, we'd run out of paper. And, as much as I'd like to see an impeachment, we'd then be left with Biden. No improvement. I don't know how far down the chain of authority we'd have to go to find someone not corrupted and guilty of war crimes.

All I can hope for is that, sensing the ship going down, some of them might turn on the others in exchange for clemency.

Yup. I'm an unrepentant optimist, aren't I?

Offline Karpatok

  • Contrarian
  • Sous Chef
  • *
  • Posts: 1427
    • View Profile
Re: The Syria Desk
« Reply #153 on: September 02, 2013, 08:23:22 PM »
  Steve from Virginia says, "The consuming world cannot afford to attack Syria" and then explains in great detail why he thinks so. I fail to see what this rational kind of thinking has to do with the threat of war what so ever. When did not being able to afford something ever stop either the government, those in power or even ordinary citizens lately in THESE GREAT UNITED STATES? Isn't the going acceptable motto " I did it because I could"? When did war ever happen on a "rational" basis? Isnt going to war the ultimate testosterone thrill to see who can not only piss the furthest, ie lob projectiles on to the opponent from skunkbags of urine, but who can demolish and bring ruin the most? Who can display the most power, bring about the most death and destruction? This is about a never ending death wish harbored deep within every individual and group that has not achieved enough insight to access it. It is connected to primeval origins pressing for power over empathy and compassion. Who can be surprised by the true nature of men and their so "loved" helpmates? Who even contemplates that men have evolved higher than their bonobo cousins? Only someone who has succumbed to the delusion of self induced dogma. Karpatok

Offline Karpatok

  • Contrarian
  • Sous Chef
  • *
  • Posts: 1427
    • View Profile
Re: The Syria Desk
« Reply #154 on: September 02, 2013, 08:39:46 PM »
I say that men cannot help themselves. They learn early that the way to be "a man" is to be self destructive. They are incapable of listening to their insides. They are taught NOT to connect with their emotions or to be able to either recognize or express their true feelings. So lacking even the barest respect for their own integrity, how could they even fathom reality or the way to healthy survival, or the recognition of the reality of another. Karpatok

Offline RE

  • Administrator
  • Chief Cook & Bottlewasher
  • *****
  • Posts: 40266
    • View Profile
Re: The Syria Desk
« Reply #155 on: September 03, 2013, 12:01:52 AM »
When did war ever happen on a "rational" basis?

At least during the Nation-State era since the Industrial Revolution, just about always I think.

Wars begin when the Economic system run by the Elite for the Elite begins to break down.  War is their Rational Solution for redistributing the power structure and resetting the economic system.

Far as the Religious Component goes, this is the rational explanation for why one group of people deserves the resources of the Earth more than another group of people.  Thus in MENA, you have Sunni and Shiite Muslims duking it out for survival there.

Far as why Males generally are leading the charge, this is the role of Males generally speaking in the Mammalian Kingdom far as Territorial Disputes go.


RE
Save As Many As You Can

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 17594
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Re: The Syria Desk
« Reply #156 on: September 03, 2013, 03:16:58 AM »
Oh yeah, Syria. Thread-driftin' &(*#&@%@&...

TODAY IN THE MARCH TO SEMI-WAR
By Charles P. Pierce at 3:55pm


Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images
Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham answer questions after their meeting today with President Obama about military action in Syria.



The president had Senator Angry Grampy and Senator Huckleberry, the presiding geopolitical thinkers in the World's Greatest Deliberative Body, over today to discuss Syria, and to give them the opportunity to stand on the White House lawn afterwards and call him a dithering dilettante whom they will support if he stops his dithering and his dilettanting and give them the Great Big Boom Boom in Syria that they want. You could tell it was serious because Angry Grampy said that, if Syria didn't matter now, then "Czechoslovakia" didn't matter in the 1930s, nor did "Abyssynia," also in the 1930s, and he was not immediately set upon by hordes of angry historians. Senator Huckleberry was more concerned about Iran than he was about any impromptu performance from Bad Historical Analogy Theater.

But the both of them continue to insist that there is one Syrian "opposition" for us to back and that, once we back that opposition, and it wins, there will be an outcome assuredly to our liking. This is not something I believe, and I don't think the president believes it, either, and I think he knows what these two comedians will be saying if Assad is overthrown and an Islamist-friendly government comes to power out of the chaos. (Hint: the phrase "missed opportunity" will fly more often than will the phrase, "We miscalculated.") Their other point was that the president has to, you know, lead, the way Senator Angry Grampy would be leading, right there with Vice-President Princess Dumbass Of The Northwoods, had we been smart and elected him in 2008. Or else...Abyssinia!

Nice of you to stop by, boys.
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 17594
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Re: The Syria Desk
« Reply #157 on: September 03, 2013, 03:29:06 AM »
And then there's this-- wondering if this will derail the cruise missile express?

EXCLUSIVE: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack

Rebels and local residents in Ghouta accuse Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan of providing chemical weapons to an al-Qaida linked rebel group.
By Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh |

http://www.mintpressnews.com/witnesses-of-gas-attack-say-saudis-supplied-rebels-with-chemical-weapons/168135/


This image provided by by Shaam News Network on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, purports to show several bodies being buried in a suburb of Damascus, Syria during a funeral on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, following allegations of a chemical weapons attack that reportedly killed 355 people. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network)


Clarification: Dale Gavlak assisted in the research and writing process of this article, but was not on the ground in Syria. Reporter Yahya Ababneh, with whom the report was written in collaboration, was the correspondent on the ground in Ghouta who spoke directly with the rebels, their family members, victims of the chemical weapons attacks and local residents.

Gavlak is a MintPress News Middle East correspondent who has been freelancing for the AP as a Amman, Jordan correspondent for nearly a decade. This report is not an Associated Press article; rather it is exclusive to MintPress News.


Ghouta, Syria — As the machinery for a U.S.-led military intervention in Syria gathers pace following last week’s chemical weapons attack, the U.S. and its allies may be targeting the wrong culprit.

Interviews with people in Damascus and Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian capital, where the humanitarian agency Doctors Without Borders said at least 355 people had died last week from what it believed to be a neurotoxic agent, appear to indicate as much.

The U.S., Britain, and France as well as the Arab League have accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for carrying out the chemical weapons attack, which mainly targeted civilians. U.S. warships are stationed in the Mediterranean Sea to launch military strikes against Syria in punishment for carrying out a massive chemical weapons attack. The U.S. and others are not interested in examining any contrary evidence, with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that Assad’s guilt was “a judgment … already clear to the world.”

However, from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack.

“My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.

Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”

Ghouta townspeople said the rebels were using mosques and private houses to sleep while storing their weapons in tunnels.

Abdel-Moneim said his son and the others died during the chemical weapons attack. That same day, the militant group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is linked to al-Qaida, announced that it would similarly attack civilians in the Assad regime’s heartland of Latakia on Syria’s western coast, in purported retaliation.

“They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” complained a female fighter named ‘K.’ “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

“When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them,” she warned. She, like other Syrians, do not want to use their full names for fear of retribution.

A well-known rebel leader in Ghouta named ‘J’ agreed. “Jabhat al-Nusra militants do not cooperate with other rebels, except with fighting on the ground. They do not share secret information. They merely used some ordinary rebels to carry and operate this material,” he said.

“We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” ‘J’ said.

Doctors who treated the chemical weapons attack victims cautioned interviewers to be careful about asking questions regarding who, exactly, was responsible for the deadly assault.

The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders added that health workers aiding 3,600 patients also reported experiencing similar symptoms, including frothing at the mouth, respiratory distress, convulsions and blurry vision. The group has not been able to independently verify the information.

More than a dozen rebels interviewed reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government.

 

Saudi involvement
In a recent article for Business Insider, reporter Geoffrey Ingersoll highlighted Saudi Prince Bandar’s role in the two-and-a-half year Syrian civil war. Many observers believe Bandar, with his close ties to Washington, has been at the very heart of the push for war by the U.S. against Assad.

Ingersoll referred to an article in the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph about secret Russian-Saudi talks alleging that Bandar offered Russian President Vladimir Putin cheap oil in exchange for dumping Assad.

“Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord,” Ingersoll wrote.

“I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” Bandar allegedly told the Russians.

“Along with Saudi officials, the U.S. allegedly gave the Saudi intelligence chief the thumbs up to conduct these talks with Russia, which comes as no surprise,” Ingersoll wrote.

“Bandar is American-educated, both military and collegiate, served as a highly influential Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., and the CIA totally loves this guy,” he added.

According to U.K.’s Independent newspaper, it was Prince Bandar’s intelligence agency that first brought allegations of the use of sarin gas by the regime to the attention of Western allies in February.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the CIA realized Saudi Arabia was “serious” about toppling Assad when the Saudi king named Prince Bandar to lead the effort.

“They believed that Prince Bandar, a veteran of the diplomatic intrigues of Washington and the Arab world, could deliver what the CIA couldn’t: planeloads of money and arms, and, as one U.S. diplomat put it, wasta, Arabic for under-the-table clout,” it said.

Bandar has been advancing Saudi Arabia’s top foreign policy goal, WSJ reported, of defeating Assad and his Iranian and Hezbollah allies.

To that aim, Bandar worked Washington to back a program to arm and train rebels out of a planned military base in Jordan.

The newspaper reports that he met with the “uneasy Jordanians about such a base”:

His meetings in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah sometimes ran to eight hours in a single sitting. “The king would joke: ‘Oh, Bandar’s coming again? Let’s clear two days for the meeting,’ ” said a person familiar with the meetings.

Jordan’s financial dependence on Saudi Arabia may have given the Saudis strong leverage. An operations center in Jordan started going online in the summer of 2012, including an airstrip and warehouses for arms. Saudi-procured AK-47s and ammunition arrived, WSJ reported, citing Arab officials.

Although Saudi Arabia has officially maintained that it supported more moderate rebels, the newspaper reported that “funds and arms were being funneled to radicals on the side, simply to counter the influence of rival Islamists backed by Qatar.”

But rebels interviewed said Prince Bandar is referred to as “al-Habib” or ‘the lover’ by al-Qaida militants fighting in Syria.

Peter Oborne, writing in the Daily Telegraph on Thursday, has issued a word of caution about Washington’s rush to punish the Assad regime with so-called ‘limited’ strikes not meant to overthrow the Syrian leader but diminish his capacity to use chemical weapons:

Consider this: the only beneficiaries from the atrocity were the rebels, previously losing the war, who now have Britain and America ready to intervene on their side. While there seems to be little doubt that chemical weapons were used, there is doubt about who deployed them.

It is important to remember that Assad has been accused of using poison gas against civilians before. But on that occasion, Carla del Ponte, a U.N. commissioner on Syria, concluded that the rebels, not Assad, were probably responsible.

Some information in this article could not be independently verified. Mint Press News will continue to provide further information and updates .

Dale Gavlak is a Middle East correspondent for Mint Press News and has reported from Amman, Jordan, writing for the Associated Press, NPR and BBC. An expert in Middle Eastern affairs, Gavlak covers the Levant region, writing on topics including politics, social issues and economic trends. Dale holds a M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago. Contact Dale at dgavlak@mintpressnews.com

Yahya Ababneh is a Jordanian freelance journalist and is currently working on a master’s degree in journalism,  He has covered events in Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Libya. His stories have appeared on Amman Net, Saraya News, Gerasa News and elsewhere.

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 17594
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Re: The Syria Desk/Ingersoll/Bandar
« Reply #158 on: September 03, 2013, 03:35:29 AM »
Herein the Ingersoll article referenced in the story above.

REPORT: The Saudis Offered Mafia-Style 'Protection' Against Terrorist Attacks At Sochi Olympics
GEOFFREY INGERSOLL   
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/saudis-russia-sochi-olympics-terrorism-syria-2013-8#ixzz2dpAkgkPs


Buried inside a Telegraph post about secret Russian and Saudi talks was a strange passive-aggressive alleged quote from the Saudi head of intelligence about terrorist attacks at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
The talks — divulged in leaked documents — were allegedly about an oil deal that would stabilize Russia's markets, if Saudi Arabia curtailed the amount of oil it put on the global market. In exchange for their global price fixing — the Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes that Russia "relies on an oil price near $100 to fund the budget" — Russia would back off its support for Assad.

But there was a threat allegedly hidden in there right along with the fruit.

From The Telegraph [emphasis theirs]:

[Soudi intel chief] Prince Bandar [bin Sultan] pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord. “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” he allegedly said.

Along with Saudi officials, the US allegedly gave the Saudi intelligence chief the thumbs up to conduct these talks with Russia, which comes as no surprise. Bandar is American-educated, both military and collegiate, served as a highly influential Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., and the CIA totally loves the guy.

From WSJ:

They [Saudi officials] believed that Prince Bandar, a veteran of the diplomatic intrigues of Washington and the Arab world, could deliver what the CIA couldn't: planeloads of money and arms, and, as one U.S. diplomat put it, wasta, Arabic for under-the-table clout.

Saudi Arabia's distaste for Syria and Iran is as epic as it is old, so its geopolitical alignments with the U.S. comes as no big surprise. The Saudis and Qataris have been running guns in line with American interests in the Arab uprisings for quite some time now.

On the flip side, Russia's (alleged) reaction is quite disconcerting, if you're in the anti-Assad camp.

Russia — notoriously rife with corruption and fat cat oligarchs — would rather keep supporting Assad than allegedly fix global oil prices or make lucrative weapons deals (another Saudi initiative).

That, folks, is simply astounding.
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 17594
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Re: The Syria Desk
« Reply #159 on: September 03, 2013, 03:45:53 AM »
Point-By-Point Rebuttal of U.S. Case for War In Syria

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/09/point-by-point-rebuttal-of-u-s-case-for-war-in-syria.html

See original for many embedded links.

The American War Brief Is Extremely Weak

The White House released a 4-page document setting forth its case for use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government.

But as shown below, the case is extremely weak (government’s claim in quotes, followed by rebuttal evidence).

“A preliminary U.S. government assessment determined that 1,429 people were killed in the chemical weapons attack, including at least 426 children, though this assessment will certainly evolve as we obtain more information.“

But McClatchy notes:

Quote
Neither Kerry’s remarks nor the unclassified version of the U.S. intelligence he referenced explained how the U.S. reached a tally of 1,429, including 426 children. The only attribution was “a preliminary government assessment.”
Anthony Cordesman, a former senior defense official who’s now with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, took aim at the death toll discrepancies in an essay published Sunday.

He criticized Kerry as being “sandbagged into using an absurdly over-precise number” of 1,429, and noted that the number didn’t agree with either the British assessment of “at least 350 fatalities” or other Syrian opposition sources, namely the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has confirmed 502 dead, including about 100 children and “tens” of rebel fighters, and has demanded that Kerry provide the names of the victims included in the U.S. tally.

“President Obama was then forced to round off the number at ‘well over 1,000 people’ – creating a mix of contradictions over the most basic facts,” Cordesman wrote. He added that the blunder was reminiscent of “the mistakes the U.S. made in preparing Secretary (Colin) Powell’s speech to the U.N. on Iraq in 2003.”

An unclassified version of a French intelligence report on Syria that was released Monday hardly cleared things up; France confirmed only 281 fatalities, though it more broadly agreed with the United States that the regime had used chemical weapons in the Aug. 21 attack.

Next, the government says:
Quote
“In addition to U.S. intelligence information, there are accounts from international and Syrian medical personnel; videos; witness accounts; thousands of social media reports from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area; journalist accounts; and reports from highly credible nongovernmental organizations.”

Reports on the ground are contradictory, with some claiming that the rebels used the chemical weapons. See this and this.  Indeed, government officials have admitted that they’re not sure who used chemical weapons.

More importantly the U.S. government claimed it had unimpeachable sources regarding Iraq’s WMDs … and that turned out to be wholly fabricated.

“We assess with high confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year, including in the Damascus suburbs. This assessment is based on multiple streams of information including reporting of Syrian officials planning and executing chemical weapons attacks and laboratory analysis of physiological samples obtained from a number of individuals, which revealed exposure to sarin.”

Chemical weapons experts are still skeptical.  The chain of custody is suspect, given that the U.S. hasn’t revealed where the samples came from, and who delivered them to the U.S.  McClatchy reports:

Among chemical weapons experts and other analysts who’ve closely studied the Syrian battlefield, the main reservation about the U.S. claims is that there’s no understanding of the methodology behind the intelligence-gathering. They say that the evidence presented points to the use of some type of chemical agent, but say that there are still questions as to how the evidence was collected, the integrity of the chain of custody of such samples, and which laboratories were involved.

Eliot Higgins, a British chronicler of the Syrian civil war who writes the Brown Moses blog, a widely cited repository of information on the weapons observed on the Syrian battlefield, wrote a detailed post Monday listing photographs and videos that would seem to support U.S. claims that the Assad regime has possession of munitions that could be used to deliver chemical weapons. But he wouldn’t make the leap.

On the blog, Higgins asked: “How do we know these are chemical weapons? That’s the thing, we don’t. As I’ve said all along, these are munitions linked to alleged chemical attacks, not chemical munitions used in chemical attacks. It’s ultimately up to the U.N. to confirm if chemical weapons were used.”

Moreover, Dan Kaszeta – a former Chemical Officer in the United States Army, and one of the foremost experts in chemical and biological weapons – said in a recent interview that there can be false positives for Sarin, especially, when tests are done in the field (pesticides or other chemical agents can trigger a false positive for sarin.)

The bottom lines is that – even though the U.S. has done everything it can to derail a UN weapons inspection – we have to wait to see what the UN tests reveal.

“We assess that the opposition has not used chemical weapons.”

The rebels absolutely had had access to chemical weapons. While the American government claims that the opposition has not used chemical weapons, many other sources – including the United Nations, Haaretz, and Turkish state newspaper Zaman - disagree.

“The Syrian regime has the types of munitions that we assess were used to carry out the attack on August 21, and has the ability to strike simultaneously in multiple locations.”

The types of munitions which were apparently used to deliver the chemical weapon attack are an odd, do-it-yourself type of rocket.   The rebels could have made these.

“We assess that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons over the last year primarily to gain the upper hand or break a stalemate in areas where it has struggled to seize and hold strategically valuable territory. In this regard, we continue to judge that the Syrian regime views chemical weapons as one of many tools in its arsenal, including air power and ballistic missiles, which they indiscriminately use against the opposition.

The Syrian regime has initiated an effort to rid the Damascus suburbs of opposition forces using the area as a base to stage attacks against regime targets in the capital. The regime has failed to clear dozens of Damascus neighborhoods of opposition elements, including neighborhoods targeted on August 21, despite employing nearly all of its conventional weapons systems. We assess that the regime’s frustration with its inability to secure large portions of Damascus may have contributed to its decision to use chemical weapons on August 21.”

This is not evidence. This is a conclusory opinion without any support.   (To give an analogy, this would be like claiming Saddam was using weapons of mass destruction right before the Iraq war started because he didn’t like short people … without refuting the actual fact that Saddam didn’t have any WMDs.)

“We have intelligence that leads us to assess that Syrian chemical weapons personnel – including personnel assessed to be associated with the SSRC – were preparing chemical munitions prior to the attack. In the three days prior to the attack, we collected streams of human, signals and geospatial intelligence that reveal regime activities that we assess were associated with preparations for a chemical weapons attack.

Syrian chemical weapons personnel were operating in the Damascus suburb of ‘Adra from Sunday, August 18 until early in the morning on Wednesday, August 21 near an area that the regime uses to mix chemical weapons, including sarin.”

American intelligence sources have repeatedly been caught lying.  During the run-up to the Iraq war, the government entirely bypassed the normal intelligence-vetting process, so that bogus claims could be trumpeted without the normal checks and balances from conscientious intelligence analysts.

“On August 21, a Syrian regime element prepared for a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus area, including through the utilization of gas masks.”

This is an oddly-worded – and carefully crafted – statement.  Assad has repeatedly warned that the rebels might steal chemical weapons and use them on civilians. The utilization of gas masks could have been a preventative measure because the Syrian government had received word that the rebels might carry out a chemical attack. More information is necessary.

Quote
“Multiple streams of intelligence indicate that the regime executed a rocket and artillery attack against the Damascus suburbs in the early hours of August 21. Satellite detections corroborate that attacks from a regime-controlled area struck neighborhoods where the chemical attacks reportedly occurred – including Kafr Batna, Jawbar, ‘Ayn Tarma, Darayya, and Mu’addamiyah. This includes the detection of rocket launches from regime controlled territory early in the morning, approximately 90 minutes before the first report of a chemical attack appeared in social media. The lack of flight activity or missile launches also leads us to conclude that the regime used rockets in the attack.”

The area in which attacks occurred was heavily contested by the both government and the rebels, and both sides were in and out of the area. 90 minutes before the first attack is an eternity when fighting a war on a heavily-contested battlefield … and could have been plenty of time for rebels to slip in and fire off chemical weapons.

As Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting notes:

Quote
It’s unclear why this is supposed to be persuasive. Do rockets take 90 minutes to reach their targets? Does nerve gas escape from rockets 90 minutes after impact, or, once released, take 90 minutes to cause symptoms?
In a conflict as conscious of the importance of communication as the Syrian Civil War, do citizen journalists wait an hour and a half before reporting an enormous development–the point at which, as Kerry put it, “all hell broke loose in the social media”? Unless there’s some reason to expect this kind of a delay, it’s very unclear why we should think there’s any connection at all between the allegedly observed rocket launches and the later reports of mass poisoning.

The government next turns to social media:
Quote
“Local social media reports of a chemical attack in the Damascus suburbs began at 2:30 a.m. local time on August 21. Within the next four hours there were thousands of social media reports on this attack from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area. Multiple accounts described chemical-filled rockets impacting opposition-controlled areas.
Three hospitals in the Damascus area received approximately 3,600 patients displaying symptoms consistent with nerve agent exposure in less than three hours on the morning of August 21, according to a highly credible international humanitarian organization. The reported symptoms, and the epidemiological pattern of events – characterized by the massive influx of patients in a short period of time, the origin of the patients, and the contamination of medical and first aid workers – were consistent with mass exposure to a nerve agent. We also received reports from international and Syrian medical personnel on the ground.

We have identified one hundred videos attributed to the attack, many of which show large numbers of bodies exhibiting physical signs consistent with, but not unique to, nerve agent exposure. The reported symptoms of victims included unconsciousness, foaming from the nose and mouth, constricted pupils, rapid heartbeat, and difficulty breathing. Several of the videos show what appear to be numerous fatalities with no visible injuries, which is consistent with death from chemical weapons, and inconsistent with death from small-arms, high-explosive munitions or blister agents. At least 12 locations are portrayed in the publicly available videos, and a sampling of those videos confirmed that some were shot at the general times and locations described in the footage.”

No one contests that some kind of chemical agent was used.  The question is exactly what type of chemical it was and – more importantly – who used it.

Moreover, the rebels were making propaganda videos for years … and they’ve gotten more sophisticated recently.   More information is needed.

“We assess the Syrian opposition does not have the capability to fabricate all of the videos, physical symptoms verified by medical personnel and NGOs, and other information associated with this chemical attack.”

Another conclusory opinion without evidence. More importantly, it is a red herring.  No one is saying that the tragic and horrific deaths were faked.

The question is when and where they occurred, and who caused them. For example, one of the world’s leading experts on chemical weapons points out that it is difficult to know where the videos were taken:

Zanders, the former EU chemical weapons expert, went even further, arguing that outsiders cannot conclude with confidence the extent or geographic location of the chemical weapons attack widely being blamed on the Assad regime.

He singled out the images of victims convulsing in agony that have circulated widely on the Web, including on YouTube.

“You do not know where they were taken,” he said. “You do not know when they were taken or even by whom they were taken. Or, whether they [are from] the same incident or from different incidents.”

Zanders added: “It doesn’t tell me who would be responsible for it. It doesn’t tell me where the films were taken. It just tells me that something has happened, somewhere, at some point.”

The government then expands on allegedly intercepted intelligence:

Quote
“We have a body of information, including past Syrian practice, that leads us to conclude that regime officials were witting of and directed the attack on August 21. We intercepted communications involving a senior official intimately familiar with the offensive who confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime on August 21 and was concerned with the U.N. inspectors obtaining evidence. On the afternoon of August 21, we have intelligence that Syrian chemical weapons personnel were directed to cease operations.”
The Washington Post points out that alleged intelligence intercepts are “the core of the Obama administration’s evidentiary case….”    America’s war intelligence has been spotty.  For example:

The U.S. Navy’s own historians now say that the sinking of the USS Maine — the justification for America’s entry into the Spanish-American War — was probably caused by an internal explosion of coal, rather than an attack by the Spanish.
It is also now well-accepted that the Gulf of Tonkin Incident which led to the Vietnam war was a fiction (confirmed here).
And the U.S. and Israel have admitted that they have carried out false flag deceptions (as have Muslim countries such as Indonesia; but to our knowledge, Syria has never been busted in a false flag.)

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting writes:

Quote
Recall that Powell played tapes of Iraqi officials supposedly talking about concealing evidence of banned weapons from inspectors–which turned out to show nothing of the kind. But Powell at least played tapes of the intercepted communication, even as he spun and misrepresented their contents–allowing for the possibility of an independent interpretation of these messages. Perhaps “mindful of the Iraq experience,” Kerry allows for no such interpretation.

David Swanson notes that American officials mischaracterized the communications to justify the Iraq war:

Powell was writing fictional dialogue. He put those extra lines in there and pretended somebody had said them. Here’s what Bob Woodward said about this in his book “Plan of Attack.”

Quote
“[Powell] had decided to add his personal interpretation of the intercepts to rehearsed script, taking them substantially further and casting them in the most negative light. Concerning the intercept about inspecting for the possibility of ‘forbidden ammo,’ Powell took the interpretation further: ‘Clean out all of the areas. . . . Make sure there is nothing there.’ None of this was in the intercept.”

[In addition] Powell … was presenting as facts numerous claims that his own staff had warned him were weak and indefensible.

The government then makes a throw-away argument:

“At the same time, the regime intensified the artillery barrage targeting many of the neighborhoods where chemical attacks occurred. In the 24 hour period after the attack, we detected indications of artillery and rocket fire at a rate approximately four times higher than the ten preceding days. We continued to see indications of sustained shelling in the neighborhoods up until the morning of August 26.”

This is another red herring. If the Syrian government believed that the rebels had used chemical weapons on civilians, they may have increased artillery fire to flush out the rebels to prevent further chemical attacks. Again, further information is needed.

“To conclude, there is a substantial body of information that implicates the Syrian government’s responsibility in the chemical weapons attack that took place on August 21.As indicated, there is additional intelligence that remains classified because of sources and methods concerns that is being provided to Congress and international partners.”

This sounds impressive at first glance.  But Congress members who have seen the classified information – such as Tom Harkin – are not impressed.

And see these further details refuting the government’s argument for war.
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 17594
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Re: The Syria Desk
« Reply #160 on: September 03, 2013, 03:52:22 AM »
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Offline RE

  • Administrator
  • Chief Cook & Bottlewasher
  • *****
  • Posts: 40266
    • View Profile
Re: The Syria Desk/Ingersoll/Bandar
« Reply #161 on: September 03, 2013, 03:58:38 AM »
Russia — notoriously rife with corruption and fat cat oligarchs — would rather keep supporting Assad than allegedly fix global oil prices or make lucrative weapons deals (another Saudi initiative).

That, folks, is simply astounding.

Not THAT astounding when you realize Vlad the Impaler is KGB Pro.

Methinks he realizes his best ploy is to stay out of it directly and force Obama to make the first move here.  He has more to gain down the line than making a deal now with anyone.  He is keeping his Options Open.

I don't think Putin will endorse anybody.  He will just destabilize anybody Obama-sama tries to install into power.

Spy vs Spy, CIA v KGB, like the Good Old Days.

Generally speaking, I think Vlad is better at this game, as Ruskies are generally better Chess Players.  Unless we turn up a Bobby Fisher here soon, Vlad will Checkmate.

Save As Many As You Can

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 17594
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Re: The Syria Desk/Ingersoll/Bandar
« Reply #162 on: September 03, 2013, 04:09:05 AM »
Russia — notoriously rife with corruption and fat cat oligarchs — would rather keep supporting Assad than allegedly fix global oil prices or make lucrative weapons deals (another Saudi initiative).

That, folks, is simply astounding.

Not THAT astounding when you realize Vlad the Impaler is KGB Pro.

Methinks he realizes his best ploy is to stay out of it directly and force Obama to make the first move here.  He has more to gain down the line than making a deal now with anyone.  He is keeping his Options Open.

I don't think Putin will endorse anybody.  He will just destabilize anybody Obama-sama tries to install into power.

Spy vs Spy, CIA v KGB, like the Good Old Days.

Generally speaking, I think Vlad is better at this game, as Ruskies are generally better Chess Players.  Unless we turn up a Bobby Fisher here soon, Vlad will Checkmate.


Maybe. Although in light of the article WHD posted yesterday (by Joe Willie?)  about Syria being the "line in the sand" vis a vis the East West divide and the Eurozone's energy future, Putin's posture makes sense.

It's usually all about the Benjamins; in Syria, it's all about the pipelines.
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Offline RE

  • Administrator
  • Chief Cook & Bottlewasher
  • *****
  • Posts: 40266
    • View Profile
Re: The Syria Desk/Ingersoll/Bandar
« Reply #163 on: September 03, 2013, 04:21:03 AM »
It's usually all about the Benjamins; in Syria, it's all about the pipelines.

DING DING DING! We have a WINNER!

I think Vlad grasps it is not about the Money and he is not Negotiating in Dollars anymore.  I don't think he takes bribes in Dollars anymore.

He is manipulating for control over Oil Resource in the KGB way.

He has enough Firepower to provide a credible threat and he cannot be intimidated like the client states can.  He is not going overt like Kruschev did with the Cuban Missiles, but he is most certainly going back door to make an EZ "solution" impossible for Obama.

Vlad is a thoroughly unlikeable guy, but in this case where you got Spy v Spy,  I gotta go with Vlad over Obama-sama.  When things get realy DIRTY, it takes an ASSHOLE to jimmy the works.

RE
Save As Many As You Can

Offline g

  • Golden Oxen
  • Contrarian
  • Master Chef
  • *
  • Posts: 12280
    • View Profile
Re: The Syria Desk
« Reply #164 on: September 03, 2013, 04:25:59 AM »
I say that men cannot help themselves. They learn early that the way to be "a man" is to be self destructive. They are incapable of listening to their insides. They are taught NOT to connect with their emotions or to be able to either recognize or express their true feelings. So lacking even the barest respect for their own integrity, how could they even fathom reality or the way to healthy survival, or the recognition of the reality of another. Karpatok

There is something terribly  wrong with us, no doubt about it K. 

Your posting brought to mind this wonderful post from Diner Jaded Prole that he posted on his blog last year. I knew it was a keeper when I first heard it. True and remarkable words from a wonderful woman.  It is called "Alice Walker Speaks."

I tried my darndest to embed it, but cannot figure out how, but this link will take you to this highly recommended video which speaks to your point.

jadedprol.blogspot.com/2012_09_01_archive.html  :icon_study: :icon_study:


                                                                 

 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
0 Replies
1058 Views
Last post August 29, 2014, 02:05:12 AM
by Anthony Cartalucci
2 Replies
771 Views
Last post August 11, 2015, 09:54:48 PM
by Palloy
Syria - Russia - US

Started by Palloy « 1 2 ... 6 7 » Geopolitics

99 Replies
18253 Views
Last post November 06, 2015, 09:22:13 AM
by RE