Events Are Moving Quickly In Syria ... Here's What You Need to Know
August 31, 2013
WashingtonsBlog & Global Research & The Irish Times
Bombing Syria will only strengthen the hardliners ... and harm America's national security. The top US military commander says that attacking Syria would be risky and expensive. (Security experts -- including both conservatives and liberals -- agree that waging a war which is not absolutely essential to defend ourselves from imminent threats weakens national security and increases terrorism.
Cheat Sheet On Syria
(August 28, 2013) -- The US is about to attack Syria. Here's what you need to know:
* Bombing Syria will only strengthen the hardliners ... and harm America's national security. The top US military commander says that attacking Syria would be risky and expensive. (Security experts -- including both conservatives and liberals -- agree that waging a war which is not absolutely essential to defend ourselves from imminent threats weakens national security and increases terrorism. Indeed, just spreading our resources too thin leaves us vulnerable to terrorists.)
* A Syrian war could be one the least popular wars in American history
* In fact, most of the world is against attacking Syria
* There is no "coalition" supporting a war
* War against Syria could spike oil prices and plunge us back into another recession
* Russia has repeatedly stated that it would consider an attack on Syria as an attack on its national security. China has also strongly cautioned the US against attacking Syria. China and Russia hold a lot of US debt, and could make life difficult for us economically if we unnecessarily anger them
* Experts initially expressed some doubts that chemical weapons were actually used
* The American government -- in a replay of the Iraq war -- is trying to stop UN weapons inspectors from seeing if chemical weapons were used
* If chemical weapons were used, it's unclear who used them
* Even though the US government claims that the Syrian government is the perpetrator, it admits that it has no idea who in the government ordered the attack. It could have been a rogue, low-level military officer. Given that American, British and other Western soldiers have pleaded guilty to massacring civilians and committing war crimes, should we condemn the entire Syrian regime if it turns out to be a crime carried out by one rogue officer? (Update: US and British intelligence now that admit they don't know whether it was the rebels or the Syrian government who carried out the attack).
* The US has repeatedly falsely accused others of using chemical weapons.
* The Syrian rebels have -- apparently -- previously used chemical weapons.
* The US has been backing Al Qaeda and other known terrorists in Syria.
* A former Democratic Congressman said that a US strike on Syria would make America "Al Qaeda's Air Force"
* The US, Britain and Israel have used chemical weapons within the last 10 years.
* "Humanitarian" wars usually don't turn out very well.
* Attacking Syria without Congressional approval would be unconstitutional, and over 150 Congress members have demanded a vote on Syria.
* The US and Britain considered attacking Syrians and then blaming it on the Syrian government as an excuse for regime change ... 50 years ago (the US just admitted that they did this to Iran).
* The US has been planning regime change in Syria for 20 years straight.
* The US has been arming the Syrian opposition since 2006.
* America is not involved in Syria because that country poses a threat to America's security ... but for entirely different reasons.
* Many see the timing of the Syria crisis as an attempt by the US government to distract from its domestic scandals. If you need a reminder about what's going on inside our country, here's a cheat sheet on spying.
US and British Intelligence Officials Admit They Don't Know Whether the Syrian Government or Rebels Used Chemical Weapons
Washington's Blog / Global Research
(August 29, 2013) -- A US State Department spokesman admitted yesterday that the US doesn't know whether a low-level, rogue Syrian official is responsible for the chemical weapons attacks.
Today, the wheels came off the war wagon altogether.
An intercept of Syrian military officials discussing the strike was among low-level staff, with no direct evidence tying the attack back to an Assad insider or even a senior Syrian commander, the officials said.
So while Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that links between the attack and the Assad government are "undeniable," US 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.
In other words, the US hasn't yet ruled out that possibility ... but only hopes to.
The New York Times writes:
American officials said Wednesday there was no "smoking gun" that directly links President Bashar al-Assad to the attack.
It appears that the public presentation of the Syria evidence will be limited. Instead of the theater of Mr. Powell's 2003 speech -- which included satellite photographs, scratchy recordings of conversations between Iraqi officials and a vial of white powder meant to symbolize anthrax -- American officials said the intelligence assessment they are preparing to make public will be similar to a modest news release that the White House issued in June to announce that the Assad government had used chemical weapons "on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year."
Except that -- last time there was a chemical weapons attack in Syria -- it turned out to have been therebels who launched the attack.
Similarly, the Guardian notes that British officials say there is not 100% certainty of who carried out the attacks, and that the conclusion of government culpability is not based on hard evidence, but a series of assumptions.
Media Coverage of Syrian
Violence Partial and Untrue
Patsy McGarry / The Irish Times
(August 22, 2012) -- A nun who has been superior at a Syrian monastery for the past 18 years has warned that media coverage of ongoing violence in that country has been "partial and untrue". It is "a fake", Mother Agnes Mariam said, which "hides atrocities committed in the name of liberty and democracy".
Superior of the Melkite Greek Catholic monastery of St James the Mutilated in Qara, in Syria's diocese of Homs, which is in full communion with Rome, she left Ireland yesterday after a three-day visit during which she met representatives of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference in Maynooth.
She told The Irish Times she was in Ireland "not to advocate for the (Assad) regime but for the facts". Most news reports from Syria were "forged, with only one side emphasised", she said. This also applied to the UN, whose reports were "one-sided and not worthy of that organisation".
UN observers in Syria had been "moderate with the rebels and covered for them in taking back positions after the withdrawal of heavy equipment, as seen so tragically in Homs", she said.
When it was put to her this suggested the whole world was out of step except for Syria, Russia and China, she protested: "No, no, there are 20 countries, including some in Latin America" of the same view.
The reason the media was being denied easy access to Syria currently was because in the Libyan conflict journalists placed electronic devices for Nato in rooms used at press conferences in that country, she said. "So Syria didn't want journalists," she said.
Christians make up about 10 per cent of Syria's population, dispersed throughout the country, she said. The Assad regime "does not favour Christians", she said. "It is a secular regime based on equality for all, even though in the constitution it says the Koran is the source of legislation."
But "Christians are less put aside [in Syria] than in other Islamic countries, for example Saudi Arabia," she said. "The social fabric of Syria is very diverse, so Christians live in peace."
The "Arab insurrection" under way in that country included "sectarian factions which promote fundamentalist Islam, which is not genuine Islam", she said.
The majority of Muslims in Syria are moderate and open to other cultural and interfaith elements, she said. "Wahhabism (a fundamentalist branch of Islam) is not open," she added.
Christians in Syria were "doubtful about the future if the project to topple the regime succeeded". The alternative was "a religious sectarian state where all minorities would feel threatened and discriminated against", she said.
There was "a need to end the violence", she said. "The West and Gulf states must not give finance to armed insurrectionists who are sectarian terrorists, most of whom are from al-Qaeda, according to a report presented to the German parliament," she said.
"We don't want to be invaded, as in Aleppo, by mercenaries, some of whom think they are fighting Israel. They bring terror, destruction, fear and nobody protects the civilians," she said. There were "very few Syrians among the rebels", she said. "Mercenaries should go home," she said.
What she and others sought in Syria was "reform, no violence, no foreign intervention." She hoped for "a new, third way, a new social pact where the right to autodetermination without outside interference" would be respected. (Source: Irish Times)
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