9 April 2018 — Strategic Culture Foundation
What happened in Syria on April 7 had been expected. While raising hue and cry over the alleged chemical attack in Douma, a rebel-held suburb of the capital, Western officials and media wasted no time to put the blame on the Assad government.
The US State Department issued a statement saying that by shielding Damascus Moscow has breached its international commitments. The administration immediately called on Russia to cease its support of Syria’s government. President Trump wants an international action. As usual, few people in the West raised their voices to emphasize the need to investigate first and make conclusions afterwards.
It strikes the eye that Moscow’s warnings about a CW provocation being prepared to dash the rising hopes for peaceful settlement in Syria appear to be forgotten! The Defense Ministry shared the information that the ringleaders of Jabhat al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army were plotting false flag chemical attacks in areas under their control. Moscow warned but the West did not listen.
It’s the same old song and dance. Last year, the Syrian government was blamed for a sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhun that prompted a US cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base. The American president’s approval ratings went up as a result. This time, the alleged attack occurred right after the Russia-Turkey-Iran summit that took place in Ankara on April 4 to promote the Syria conflict settlement.
As before, all “evidence” boils down to White Helmets’ report and a video going viral that does not look or sound very convincing. There was no independent verification. The White Helmets have iffy reputation, to put it mildly. The organization is known to pursue political interests of outside actors.
No explanation was given to a simple question: what does Syria’s government need this attack for? It is victorious everywhere and the operation in Eastern Ghouta has been a success. Douma is the last remaining stronghold still controlled by rebels in the area and will be liberated soon. It’s a matter of a few days. The army’s combat actions are supported by Russian aviation. What does Syria’s government stand to gain by using CW? Nothing.
Syria army units are operating in Douma. By launching an attack, the Syrian government would hit its own troops, This argument appears to be largely missing in Western media reports. President Trump has recently promised to withdraw American forces from Syria. Why would President Assad give him a pretext to renege on his word?
But the world “indignation” against Russia-supported President Assad benefits the extremists a lot. They are cornered and need time to take a breath and receive support. Actually, the ballyhoo raised in the West is their only chance to at least slow down the offensive. A government forces’ victory in Douma would deal a heavy blow to terrorist groups, sounding the death knell for the rebellion. Sounds simple but that’s what it is. There is each and every reason to believe the incident was staged by terrorists.
Right after the alleged attack, they asked for talks. The ringleaders believe that this is their chance for a negotiated truce. The militants keep their fingers crossed hoping that NATO member states which clandestinely support them will get involved one way or another. Just last February, Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned Syria of “dire consequences” if it executed chemical strikes. French President Macron said he would order strikes if CW were used. It’s worth noting that today the US president’s National Security Team is led by a person known as a trigger happy hawk advocating the use of force as a foreign policy tool.
The US and France have been harboring plans to launch a joint operation in Syria for some time. Only a few days ago, a contingent of French forces arrived in Manbij to join American allies there. Actually, a NATO operation has been launched leaving Turkey, a bloc’s member, out in the cold. It’s an open secret that the US-led coalition pursues the goal of partitioning Syria to “contain” Russia, roll back Iran, win the support of rich Persian Gulf Arab states to boost lucrative arms trade and bolster the US and France’s clout in the Middle East.
It would be naïve to think that the chemical attack in Syria and the Skripal scandal are two separate events. They are links in the same chain. With the spy poisoning case leading nowhere, the anti-Russia campaign needs a new impetus. The alleged CW attack is a good pretext to spur the efforts. But any strike in Syria would pose a risk to the lives of Russian servicemen. It could make Moscow respond. The US-led coalition is playing with fire. And as in the Skripal case, the reaction is the same – blame first, wait for the results of investigation second. It just shows that the West is not interested in the truth. It’s looking for new pretexts to damage Russia’s reputation and thus reduce its global clout.