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Probability of Rebel Chemical Weapons Usage in Syria

Bill Van Auken in “Growing calls for attack on Syria follow chemical weapons” points out:

When Carla Del Ponte, a leading member of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, reported last May that there was “strong, concrete” evidence that sarin had been used by the Western-backed forces, Washington and its European allies simply ignored these findings. Such crimes are viewed as necessary in the prosecution of a vicious war for regime change that these powers have provoked and sustained.

But now a report of a chemical weapons attack in East Damascus is being pounced on by Western countries and regional allies as the longed for pretext of breaking the strength of the Assad government forces by US, western and regional forces intervening militarily.

There has NOT been any independent confirmation of this chemical attack being linked to Assad’s government.

Van Auken explains that the alleged chemical attack occurred on the first day that a UN chemical inspection team, invited by the Assad government, was "to begin its work.” Van Auken posits:

... Is this a likely moment to carry out—just 10 miles from Damascus—what is being reported as the biggest chemical weapons attack internationally in decades?

Why would the Damascus regime resort to such weapons, under conditions where it is widely reported to be making steady military advances against the Western-backed Islamist militias? And why, if it were to carry out such an attack, would it not send its forces afterwards to take control of the area, but instead leave it in the hands of the “rebels” so that they could record the scene and post images of the victims on the Internet?

Among the many images that have been made available is one of the rocket that supposedly carried the chemical weapon, a patently homemade device that bears no resemblance to the munitions that Iran and Russia have supplied to the Syrian military
While the Assad regime has nothing to gain from carrying out such an attack, and a great deal to lose, this is not the case for the Free Syrian Army and the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front, which have become increasingly desperate in the face of advances by the Syrian military, stiff resistance from Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria and growing popular hostility to the sectarian atrocities of these Western-backed “rebels.”

That these forces have the capability to carry out such attacks is indisputable. They themselves have publicly bragged about access to chemical weapons, and the Turkish media reported the arrest of several of their members last May in possession of the nerve agent sarin. The far-right cutthroats of Al Nusra and other Al Qaeda-linked elements would have no compunction about carrying out such a mass slaughter in order to blame it on the regime and provoke US-NATO intervention.

Despite the facts and the logic against a chemical attack by the Syrian army, Van Auken reports Syria-war-mongering is ramping up all over western media. The Obama administration at this point has “officially” limited itself to demanding UN inspectors access to examine the site, not acknowledging, of course, that the site is actually under the control of the “US-backed rebels, including Al-Qaeda-linked elements.”

At the same time, Arizona’s Republican Senator John McCain is demanding immediate military action -- a no fly zone that could destroy Syria’s air force in a few days and equipping the rebels with powerful weaponry. McCain has gone on to declare, reports Van Auken, that since Obama has failed to go into action fast enough -- now that the proverbial “red line” of chemical weaponry has been crossed -- “The word of the president of the United Sates can no longer be taken seriously.”

Van Auken on US media ramping of pro-Syrian war propaganda:

The demands for military intervention have been amplified by the breathless reports of American television, with faithful conduits for the CIA and the Pentagon like ABC News’s chief foreign affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz reporting the allegations made by the Western-backed opposition as fact.

I myself watched Margaret Warner of the NewsHour last night asking her guests why many US citizens seemed so apathetic to the Syrian army’s aggression, implying there was something wrong with Americans not ripe for immediate and automatic intervention in Syria over the as yet un-investigated chemical weapons occurrence.

France is leading the international war-mongering, explains Van Auken reminding that France is Syria’s “former colonial aggressor” and that it was France that took the lead in 2011 to “regime change” Libya. Van Auken writes:

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius Thursday declared that in response to the incident in Syria, “we need a reaction by the international community.... a reaction of (military) force.” While ruling out the deployment of French troops on the ground in Syria, he insisted on “a reaction that can take a form, I don’t want to be more precise, of force.”

Similarly, Turkey’s Islamist government, which has provided Al-Qaeda-affiliated gangs operating inside Syria with bases, arms and logistical support, pushed for a military response. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu declared Thursday that “all red lines” had been crossed in Syria, employing the phrase used by US President Barack Obama when he threatened US military action if the Syrian government used chemical weapons.

And Israel, which has warmed its hands over the civil war in Syria while continuing to occupy Syria’s Golan Heights, chided the Western powers for not carrying out direct military strikes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued that aggression against Syria was necessary as a prelude to confronting Iran. “Syria has become Iran’s testing ground, and Iran is closely watching whether and how the world responds,” he said in a statement.

Van Auken points out that there have been non-stop images from YouTube videos with television announcers "solemnly" warning their viewers to prepare for “disturbing images.”

Meanwhile, the slaughter of unarmed demonstrators in Egypt recently lacked the same intense humanitarian outrage from the US media, which mostly defended our administration’s continuation of $1.3 billion annual military aid to the coup-generating Egyptian army, now a junta in Cairo, perpetrating bloodbaths.

It is profoundly disturbing how fast the Iraq War playbook can get pulled out by the US administration and a ferociously-propagandizing media, both continuing to betray us citizens and the rest of humanity with the promotion of violent US imperialism against hapless peoples, this time in Syria.

[cross-posted on open salon]

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