War on the Threshold of Syria By Dmitriy Sedov
26 August 2013 — Strategic Culture Foundation
The provocational use of chemical weapons on August 21 in a suburb of Damascus was the latest and, apparently, the most important step in bringing foreign aggression against Syria closer. Without waiting for the results of the investigation to be conducted by group of international experts, the West has begun preparing world public opinion for a new war.
On August 24, U.S. President Barack Obama held a meeting with his advisors at which he discussed possible «military solutions» in Syria. The opinion that the U.S. will make a military strike against Syria if the international inspection establishes that the Syrian army used chemical weapons near Damascus is becoming widespread. However, the more time passes, the more certain it seems that Washington does not need any proof of the use of chemical weapons. In a CNN interview, Obama spoke the following significant words: «If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it, do we have the coalition to make it work?» In other words, the White House needs the collusion of a group of countries in order to create the appearance of justified actions against Syria while bypassing a UN mandate. And Washington has already begun forming such a coalition.
After a telephone conversation between Barack Obama and David Cameron, it was reported that both leaders had expressed «grave concern» about information on a large-scale chemical attack in Syria. At the same time, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper contacted his colleagues Francois Hollande and David Cameron to develop an «appropriate response» to the Syrian crisis. In his conversation with Harper, Cameron demanded «a ‘game-changing’ resolution at the United Nations to set an ultimatum for Assad to disarm». The media reports that the text of such an ultimatum is ready and was copied from a similar document once presented to Saddam Hussein. Judging from these reports, the core of the anti-Syrian coalition has already taken shape.
On the same day, August 24, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told journalists that President Obama had ordered the Pentagon to provide options on Syria for all contingencies. The Pentagon has done this, and is «able to carry out different options – whatever options the president might choose,» said Hagel. American warships equipped with cruise missiles are already nearing Syria.
Apparently, reports that «in co-ordination with international partners and mindful of the dozens of contemporaneous witness accounts and record of the symptoms of those killed, the U.S. intelligence community continues to gather facts to ascertain what occurred» are only being made for appearances’ sake. In fact, the newspaper The Guardian reported that «US and allied intelligence agencies had made a preliminary assessment that chemical weapons were used by Syrian forces». This is augmented by the conclusion of Médecins Sans Frontières that its representatives «treated about 3,600 patients with ‘neurotoxic symptoms’, of whom 355 have died».
Meanwhile, in Damascus a group of international inspectors, headed by Swedish specialist Åke Sellström, has started its work. At the same time, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane arrived in Damascus. Syrian officials told Kane that they are prepared to allow Sellström’s team of experts to study the sites where it is alleged that chemical weapons were used on August 21. And immediately, jumping ahead of things, the head of the British Foreign Office, William Hague, suggested that «much of the evidence could have been destroyed». As reported by CBS News, a U.S. «senior administration official» also suggests that the evidence «has been significantly corrupted».
Eloquent comments! The West is trying to keep evidence that the rebels were involved in the crime from coming out. A strike must be made against Syria before the results of the investigation by Sellström’s group of experts are obtained and published. Chuck Hagel’s remark also points to this: «There may be another attack coming…A very quick assessment of what happened and whatever appropriate response should be made».
The new scenario in Syria is painfully reminiscent of the scenario which was played out at one time by the United States around Iraq. Apparently, Washington and London are inclined toward using missiles and bombs against Syrian administrative, defense and sustainment centers, which is the most painless approach for the aggressors. Strikes can be made using Tomahawk missiles launched from the American ships which have approached Syria. They will be joined by several hundred U.S. Air Force planes located at bases on the Persian Gulf and on aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea.
Damascus has already warned that U.S. military intervention in Syria will «inflame» the Middle East. That is true. There will not be a repeat of Libya. Unlike the easy victory of the Western coalition in the war against Gadhafi, in Syria it will be different, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama will have to pay a steep price for his readiness to repeat the «feats» of George Bush in Iraq…
Yes, there really are chemical weapons in Syria, and Damascus has already officially stated that they are meant precisely for repulsing foreign aggression.
Furthermore, apparently Russia’s reaction to an American strike against Syria will be much harsher than it was in the case of Libya. It is also believed that, unlike in the war in Yugoslavia, Russia will not leave Syria alone face to face with its aggressors and will not act solely through diplomatic channels.
And, finally, this war will inevitably spill over Syria’s borders into Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. Iran will not remain unaffected, either. As Damascus and Moscow warn, the situation in the Middle East will be «inflamed», and the historical responsibility for the spread of the wars started by the United States and its allies will lie with Washington and London.