Boris Volkhonsky, Voice of Russia – As reported by the Washington Post, senior US officials including President Barack Obama warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that deploying chemical weapons is “totally unacceptable,” after what US officials said were new intelligence reports that the Damascus government is preparing such munitions for possible use.
It all started with the outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton who, on her visit to Prague, said on Monday, “This is a red line for the United States. I’m not going to telegraph in any specifics what we would do in the event of credible evidence that the Assad regime has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people. But suffice to say we are certainly planning to take action.”
President Obama followed suit telling the Syrian government that “there will be consequences, and you will be held accountable”.
“Syria’s Foreign Ministry said in an official statement that “Syria has stressed repeatedly that it will not use these types of weapons, if they were available, under any circumstances against its people.”
Still, the information cover-up is going on in full swing. Reports supplied by US intelligence agencies concerning the alleged Syrian stockpiles of chemical weapons are appearing in various Western media. According to such reports, Syria possesses up to 1,000 tons of chemical weapons stored in 50 towns and cities. The weapons include mustard gas and sarin, and the CIA also believes (or, rather, tries to make others believe) that Syria has attempted to develop more toxic and more persistent nerve agents, such as VX gas. The weapons, according the CIA, “can be delivered by aircraft, ballistic missile, and artillery rockets.”
For anyone with a memory as short-lived as not to remember the events of 9 years ago, the reports sound alarming if not catastrophic. Indeed, all this is happening against a background of heavy military preparations along Syrian borders with Turkey requesting NATO allies to supply Patriot missile defenses.
But when and if we remember the events of 2003, we cannot but feel a kind of déjà vu.
In 2003, there was a similar propagandist campaign concerning Iraqi alleged program aimed at acquiring weapons of mass destruction. The then Secretary of State Colin Powell publicly demonstrated photos supplied by the intelligence and meant to demonstrate that Saddam Hussein was possessing such weapons and ready to use them.
The photos served as a pretext for launching an open military aggression against Iraq which eventually led to toppling and murdering Saddam Hussein. After Americans took control of the country it turned out that the whole story was cock-eyed and there were no such weapons in Iraq. But who would care – by that time the aims of the operations had been successfully achieved and there was no comeback.
It seems that this time the US is going to use the old well-tested trick. First, the massive media campaign aimed at persuading the international public that the biggest threat for the world is coming from Bashar al-Assad. Then comes some kind of provocation – like using a device that may look (and smell) like a chemical weapon and blaming the Syrian regime for it. This will open gates for an open military intervention that will lead to toppling Bashar al-Assad.
After all, maybe no weapons of mass destruction will be found in Syria. But who would care – by that time the aims of the operation will have been successfully achieved.
“We simply cannot allow the 21st century to be darkened by the worse weapons of the 20th century,” said US President Barack Obama. Indeed, this phrase reveals the real intentions of the US administration. Being technologically the most advanced global power, the US would prefer to remain the only power capable of using the “best” weapons of the 21st century, depriving all others of the right and capacity to retaliate.
Boris Volkhonsky, senior research fellow, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies