“France’s foreign ministry says deadly sarin gas used in a chemical attack in Syria this month that killed 87 people “bears the signature” of President Bashar Assad’s government.
A six-page report by French intelligence services claims the nerve agent came from hidden stockpiles of chemical weapons that Damascus was supposed to have destroyed under an U.S.- and Russian-brokered deal in 2013.”
Here is what you should be aware of as you sift this latest news:
1. Assad gave up 1300 tons (2,600,000 pounds) of his chemical weapons in 2013-14. They were moved out of Syria, loaded on ships, and destroyed by portable shipboard factories far offshore. The process lent itself to skullduggery.
And Damascus was not given the option of destroying its own weapons, nor was it even considered safe to do so in a war zone. They had to be handed over to the West.
How many countries and people had access to Syria’s sarin and mustard gas during that process? Was any sarin withheld from destruction? (We should more realistically ask, how much was withheld and who got it?) Who might subsequently have been given some of that material?
2. Since chemical and biological weapons may leave a chemical or genetic signature, and since a major advantage of such weapons is the difficulty of identifying a perpetrator, the smart players do their best to create chem/bio weapons that leave the signature of someone else.
3. If you know the chemical signature of a chemical or biological weapon, even if you cannot obtain someone else’s material, you may be able to reverse engineer a specific signature and impute an attack to your enemy.
4. Seymour Hersh and others have noted that weapons from Gaddafi’s stockpile were sent from Libya through Turkey to Syria to be given to anti-Assad rebel forces, in a complicated maneuver engineered by the CIA. Sarin was alleged to have been found by police, who arrested al-Nusra rebels in Turkey with 2 kg. of sarin. Using Gaddifi’s arms gave the CIA plausible deniability of involvement.
It should not be lost on the reader that anyone giving sarin to Syrian ‘rebels’ would expect its use to be attributed to Assad.
6. Since no Syrian sarin attacks have ever been demonstrated conclusively to be due to Assad or to anyone else (rumors and claims abound, but definite proof has been elusive), France’s claim that the recent sarin is from Assad because it matched sarin from an earlier attack is utter nonsense, since we don’t know the source of the earlier sarin signature.
7. The French intelligence service authored this report. And the US intelligence services authored the 2003 report of Iraq’s WMD, and claimed the 2013 sarin attacks were due to Assad (without proof, read the report here). US and UK intelligence services had something to do with the Trump “golden showers” dossier of trash.
These intelligence services were all carrying out their missions, which sadly have become propaganda, not intelligence.
8. There was no motive for Assad to use chemical weapons in 2013, and no motive today. Instead, strategically, he had much to lose.
9. When you consider the background to the claims about Syria’s chemical weapons, the series of stories blaming Assad for attacking his people with sarin this month make less and less sense. Instead, it seems we are reliving Judith Miller’s series of NY Times stories that provided the drumbeat to war in Iraq, in 2002-3. We should not be fooled again.