Focal Points Blog

An Obama Attack on Syria Will Backfire (Part 2)

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False Flag Operations: What Are They?

While the US, UK and France (the old and the new colonial powers) debate their response to the suspected chemical weapons use in Syria, the Syrian government continues to deny the allegations. Since last Saturday we have witnessed a number of reports, documents and pictures that plainly indicate that the use of these weapons was by the mercenaries supported by the US and the Saudis, not by Damascus.

The US on the other hand has ignored all such evidence and continues to talk of attacking Syria, which might have already taken place before this article goes to print. The Syrian government and its allies maintain that it was the mercenaries that launched a “false flag” attack by using chemical weapons on civilians, anticipating that the blame would fall on the government and provoke the international community into a response that would help their positions on the ground after being defeated by the Syrian army in a number of confrontations.

What is a ‘false flag’ operation?
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Taking the U.S. Gov’t Assessment of Syria’s Use of Chemical Weapons on Faith

 

Sarin Aleppo

The “U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons,” just released today, makes a convincing case that the Assad regime is responsible for the attack that it estimates killed 1,429 people, including 429 children.

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.
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Parliament Stonewalls Latter-Day Bush and Blair on Syria

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

At the New York Times, Mark Landler, David Sanger, and Thom Shanker write of President Obama’s decision to strike Syria even though the British Parliament refused to allow Prime Minister Cameron to follow through on his pledge of support.

The decision to proceed without Britain is remarkable. … Even in the Iraq war, Mr. Bush relied on what he called a “coalition of the willing,” led by Britain. Mr. Obama has made clear that this initiative would come from the United States, and that while he welcomed international participation, he was not depending on foreign forces for what would essentially be an operation conducted largely by the United States, from naval vessels off the Syrian coast.

It’s just as well for Obama and Cameron: what could be more humiliating than comparisons with George W. Bush and Tony Blair’s bromance. But, when it comes to those unilateral decisions that Bush held so dear, Obama seems to be surpassing him.
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An Obama Attack on Syria Will Backfire (Part 1)

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Cross-posted from the Colorado Progressive Jewish News.

“Now we sit and wait while the Washington regime makes its next lethal move. Let us lift our voices in unison to prevent it.”

“Before another rush to judgment and ‘punishment’ based on a presumption of guilt, as in Iraq, this time, let the UN inspectors do their job: We still don’t know who used chemical weapons in Syria — regime or rebels. Without UN Security Council’s approval, any military action by US and its NATO or even Arab allies will itself be illegal, an international war crime itself. Such an attack will not protect innocent civilians, but hurt them. US attacks will backfire, trigger a retaliatory response, escalate the civil war into region or world war.”

– Comments of friends on Facebook

This is the second time in six months that the United States has accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons. The first time, Washington was forced to eat its words as international organizations, including Human Rights Watch, claimed that it was the rebels and not the government forces which had employed them.
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The Obama Administration’s Hollow Case for Striking Syria

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

For once, the views of the New York Times editorial board and Focal Points align perfectly. From an op-ed today:

Despite the pumped-up threats and quickening military preparations, President Obama has yet to make a convincing legal or strategic case for military action against Syria.

Where, the author asked,

… is the proof that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria carried out the attack?… If the Obama administration has such evidence, it should make it public immediately. Given America’s gross failure in Iraq — when the Bush administration went to war over nonexistent nuclear weapons — the standard of proof is now unquestionably higher. We are also eager to hear the conclusions of the United Nations inspectors who are in Syria taking samples from victims and interviewing witnesses. 
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Is Assad a Rational Actor?

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

On Monday at Focal Points, I wrote about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad invoking logic to refute the charges that his government carried out chemical-weapon attacks. He pointed out in an interview with Izvestia reported on by the New York Times that

… government troops would have risked killing their own forces if they had used chemical weapons. “This contradicts elementary logic,” news reports quoted him as saying. It is “not us but our enemies who are using chemical weapons,” he said, referring to antigovernment rebels as “the terrorists.”

I wrote:

Bearing in mind that just because he invokes logic doesn’t necessarily mean Assad actually isn’t capable of acting irrationally. But, remember, the area subjected to clouds of poison gas was the suburbs of the capital, Damascus, also his home. Though I’m unfamiliar with drift patterns of poison gas, putting Damascus, himself, and his family in possible harm’s way would make him obstinate to the nth degree, not to mention self-destructive, on top of irrational. We’re talking about Hitler territory.
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Bomb What Exactly in Syria?

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Some of us have wondered why Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would drop tear gas in the suburbs of the seat of his government and his own home, Damascus. After all, the wind could blow the gas into his backyard. Nor did it make sense in light of how calls for intervention had recently died down. As Assad himself pointed out in an interview with Izvestia reported on by the New York Times:

… government troops would have risked killing their own forces if they had used chemical weapons. “This contradicts elementary logic,” news reports quoted him as saying.

Nevertheless, today the New York Times reported:

In the coming days, officials said, the nation’s intelligence agencies will disclose information to bolster their case that chemical weapons were used by Mr. Assad’s forces. The information could include so-called signals intelligence — intercepted radio or telephone calls between Syrian military commanders.
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Syria: Assad’s Empty Gestures, Empty Threats

Courtesy Wikipedia Commons

Courtesy Wikipedia Commons

Syrian President Assad insists that the apparent chemical-weapon attacks that have left upwards of 1,000 people dead in his country were committed by “terrorists,” as he calls the opposition. That’s his story and Russia and Syria are sticking to it.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that they were carried out “likely with high-level approval from the government of President Bashar al-Assad, according to American and European security sources.”

But, as Assad himself points out in an interview with Izvestia reported on by the New York Times:

… government troops would have risked killing their own forces if they had used chemical weapons. “This contradicts elementary logic,” news reports quoted him as saying. It is “not us but our enemies who are using chemical weapons,” he said, referring to antigovernment rebels as “the terrorists.”

Bearing in mind that just because he invokes logic doesn’t necessarily mean Assad actually isn’t capable of acting irrationally. But remember the area subjected to clouds of poison gas was the suburbs of the capital, Damascus, also his home. Though I’m unfamiliar with drift patterns of poison gas, putting Damascus, himself, and his famly in possible harm’s way would make him obstinate to the nth degree, not to mention self-destructive, on top of irrational. We’re talking about Hitler territory.
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Foreign Policy Thin-Sliced (8/23/13)

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Egypt: A Peaceful State Rule by a Junta

“We have this thing about us, that the Egyptian Army is untouchable,” [a woman named] Israa said.

“So many want Egypt ruled with an iron grip,” she said. [But] “This is not us. … It’s not Egypt at all. We are not happy with death and blood.”

Working-Class Cairo Neighborhood Tries to Make Sense of a Brutal Day, Kareem Fahim, the New York Times
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If True, Does Assad Really Think WMD Use Is Okay With Russia?

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Calls for intervention are rearing their ugly head again in light of charges that the Syrian military mounted a poison gas attack outside Damascus. (Syria’s capital and home to President Assad: gives new meaning to “fouling your nest,” aka “s****ing the bed.”) While the Syrian opposition and Western states are urging Syria to permit UN inspectors to examine the site, France is calling on states to respond “with force” if WMD use is verified.

We’ll spare you another round of the pros and cons of intervention. Meanwhile, the Security Council is meeting today and, in the unlikely event that Assad has finally gone too far for Russia, what options are available if Russia cooperates? Outside all-out RP2, I’ve heard that what’s being considered are sanctions on individual members of Iran’s government (raise your hand if you’re surprised that hasn’t yet been enacted) and a referral to the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
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