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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Syria Gas Attack

Are The Birds of Peace Arriving, Or Are They Departing?

Prairie Weather has a post from an NPR interview with Alistair Crooke, former diplomat and intelligence officer, which asks the pertinent question as to whether we could be wrong about the nerve gas attacks, since we have been very wrong often in the past, and are currently offering no substantive proof that the Syrian government is responsible:

NPR: We just heard ... that the Russians believe that the opposition, not the Assad regime, might have carried out this chemical attack. How do they know that? Do the Russians have actual intelligence that they're going on?
CROOKE: Yes, the Russians have very good intelligence. Because essentially, not only do they have people literally on the ground, throughout the geographical area of Syria, but also because they have people inside the government working closely on a day by day basis with the army, with the security services. They are right there sitting alongside them in many cases.
NPR: Is it plausible that the rebels would do something like this?
CROOKE: It's quite possible and we've seen evidence of it before. In fact, Carla del Ponte, the UN commissioner inspecting war crimes in Syria, said very clearly, that most of the evidence that she saw pointed to opposition use of the gas sarin. The other point really is that sarin is not a complicated gas. It's something that doesn't require a government laboratory.

 And what the US should do: 
CROOKE:  I would recommend that the first thing that they should do is to leave aside, if you like, the flaming(ph) match with Russia that has been characteristic of this period and actually try and engage seriously with Russia and Iran, and the other regional players like Saudi Arabia, in an effort really to deescalate the violence and to be able to facilitate the beginning of some form of discussion.
Unfortunately, that hasn't happened, because of course it requires not only influence to dissuade President Assad and the Syrian government to deescalate the violence, something which they have offered in the past, but it also requires the same action to be taken with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states like Qatar and with Turkey if it's to be successful.
And there's been a notable reluctance on the part of the West to use any pressure at all on the Gulf states or on Turkey to wind down the level of violence and to commit politics to begin.


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