The countdown to U.S. military action against Syria has taken another dramatic twist over the past 24 hours, with a Russian proposal, backed by Syria, Iran and the Obama Administration, now being formulated to avert American military action.  The proposal, contrary to much of the media chatter, was discussed between Putin and Obama in St. Petersburg last week, and was also discussed between Lavrov and Kerry.  All of the talk about a Kerry "slip of the tongue" was media confusion.  Bottom line:  Obama knows that he will not get the Congressional votes he needs for authorization to use force.  He also knows that the mood on Capitol Hill is such that, if he ordered military strikes without Congressional backing, he might face impeachment.  Under any circumstances, the chances of Obama setting a world record for early lame duck status were soaring.  The American public do not want to hear about another war that has no justification under legitimate U.S. national security concerns.  They want jobs, other domestic economic improvements, and an end to the surveillance state.  The consent of the governed says "no" by an overwhelming margin.

That all having been said, some astute military thinkers are worried that some other big players in the Syrian saga–Israel and Saudi Arabia to name just two–are not at all happy that the U.S. and Russia may be working on a way to avoid military action. They look beyond the immediates of Syria to the pending negotiations with Iran.  If a deal is reached to put Syrian chemical weapons under UN control, and Iran is party to the arrangement, this opens the door for a better outcome to the upcoming P5+1 and Iranian-American bilateral talks.  Both Israel and Saudi Arabia would be deeply alarmed at such an outcome.  

In this context, some of my astute military and intelligence observers are warning of a false flag attack in Syria, staged by Syrian rebels or even Israeli covert ops teams, to put the Syria situation back on an immediate war footing.  

Things are moving so fast on the diplomatic front that I feel it important to issue this warning.  I hope that I am wrong and my friends who passed along this concern are just being overly cautious, perhaps even a bit paranoid.  

Comments are, as always, welcome.

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  1. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Even the paranoid have enemies.

  2. IMO Harper’s info and analysis is highly accurate. It will take over a decade if it were to happen that Syria’s stockpiles of CW were to be subject to international controls.
    And whatever the LAMEDUCK analysis will be over and done with by Xmas– a well done LAMEDUCK!

  3. shepherd says:

    One question I have is how easy would it be to create such an operation and sell it as legitimate–with everyone looking for it? And would the American people, who are now deeply skeptical of everything Syria, buy it no matter how good it was? I think Obama indeed (and rightly) risks impeachment if he proceeds with a foolish attack, convincing false flag or no.
    By your account, Obama has been looking for a way out–no matter what he’s been saying publically. The speed of the diplomatic moves have been stunning, and, you suggest, perhaps by design. One of the benefits of coming to a quick solution, I’d guess, is that it makes it more difficult to pull off a convincing false flag. If I’m a Saudi or an Israeli, I’d consider the hand lost or at least filled with risks that outweigh the rewards. That said, people don’t always play their hands logically, and your friends may be right.

  4. mbrenner says:

    A fitting conclusion to this tragic-comedy would be the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Vladimir Putin. In his Oslo acceptance speech, he then might invoke Leo Tolstoy the way Obama did Gandhi and Martin Luther King – declaring that he is greater than they since he must reconcile an ethic of absolute morality with an ethic of responsibility for the citizens he has an obligation to protect. Ultimately, we can look forward to an Obama-Putin joint lecture tour.

  5. robt willmann says:

    The Obama administration is still pushing. This morning, starting at 10:00 a.m. eastern time and still going on now (11:40 a.m. eastern), a hearing is being held before the U.S House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on the proposed authorization to use military force in Syria–
    The witnesses are the same — Sec. State John Kerry, Sec. Def. Chuck Hagel, and CJCS Gen. Martin Dempsey. Their prepared statements should be here (Hagel and Dempsey have a joint statement)–
    John Kerry is huffing and puffing and back “on message”.
    The committee hearing is airing on C-Span 3 television and through the Internet both by C-Span’s website and by the committee’s.
    Yesterday, 9 September, National Security “Advisor” Susan Rice gave a speech about Syria before the New America Foundation–
    I agree with Harper’s concern about the desires of Saudi Arabia and Israel to hit Syria, plus I have seen no evidence that the Obama administration has changed its real goals, both public and hidden, regarding Syria. Unless Obama repudiates his goal of overthrowing the sovereign government of Syria in his speech tonight, I think that he, Saudi Arabia, and Israel are still on the same page together but are going to adjust tactics and propaganda.

  6. fred says:

    Another USS Liberty incident only with no survivors?

  7. The beaver says:

    The US, UK and France are to table a UN Security Council resolution that will call on Syria to publicly declare that it has a chemical weapons program, place it under international control and dismantle it.
    Russia has already indicated opposition.
    Bandar/AIPAC must have been working the phones yesterday.

  8. steve g says:

    The New York Times has an article about
    Obama pressing AIPAC to use its influence
    on congressional members. Three hundred
    are to be dispatched to the Hill. What to
    make of this? Even more evidence to the
    public, if they are paying attenion, that
    this is all about Israel and Iran.

  9. Medicine Man says:

    If they do attempt this I hope they get caught. I would dearly love to see this whole charade blown wide open. The subsequent re-alignment of international priorities would be glorious to behold.

  10. WP says:

    A little off point, but in today’s House hearing, Sec. Hegel punted on the question as to what happens if the “limited” strikes accidentally topple the Syrian government. The fall of Assade seems to be a real possibliity. When he falls, it seems wishful thinking to believe that any flag other than the black flag of the Prophet will fly over Damascus.
    Who controls the chemical weapons then and how fast will they dissappear into the underground weapons bazaar? I have visions of the empty explosive depots in Iraq and the abundance of explosives detonating on the streets of Bagdad ever since.
    The administration seems totally determined not to give a clear answer to the question though I am sure they have a good idea what will happen.
    The question needs a real answer from someone.

  11. luisfernando says:

    The problem is that the U.S. has given the green light to Israel to attack IRAN.
    With you say, inaction in Syria Netanyahu enrage, so you’ll have to act alone. Two Birds One Shot: Iran and Syria.

  12. fred says:

    Israel is not under US control. They will do what they will do regardless of US interests.

  13. Rd. says:

    “In this context, some of my astute military and intelligence observers are warning of a false flag attack “in Syria, staged by Syrian rebels or even Israeli covert ops teams, to put the Syria situation back on an immediate war footing.   “
    well said Harper.. Or it could also be the illegitimate child (of SA and izis) namely AQ. 9/11 is tomorrow. Honestly, with friends like these two, does US really need to worry about any ‘perceived’ enemies? Russia or Iran are not ENEMIES. They are independent actors with their own interests and are parties that one can negotiate with within reason, to the benefit of both sides.

  14. elkern says:

    Do we have any USN ships in the E Med named “Maine”?

  15. different clue says:

    I hope Harper’s analysis is correct. I am afraid it is just that Kerry thought he was blurting out an “impossible condition” for Assad; in the spirit of “then you must cut down the largest tree in the forest with . . . a herring!”
    A very alert fast-moving Russian leadership seized on it and offered it as a way out.
    I hope the Obama group gets a “no” vote in Congress. Failing that, I hope Congress refuses to vote until after this gambit has played itself all the way out one way or the other. Because if Congress votes “yes” near the middle or beginning of this new phase, I fear the Obama group will try every possible way to declare this idea a failure and start the war.

  16. walrus says:

    Thank you very much for your penetrating insight Harper. I hadn’t thought of the possibility that perhaps Kerry’s “blunder” about Syrian CW stockpiles was a deliberate hand pass to his Russian colleague, who fielded it nicely.
    If that was the case, then plausible deniability is now on Obamas side: “I want to attack but our hands are tied, etc.”
    A false flag is certainly a possibility, but I think it would definitely require some chutzpah laden Israelis to finesse it.

  17. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Nah, it was just a blunder.

  18. different clue says:

    If Obama himself is PRESSing AIPAC to work the phones; that means that Obama wants a Congressional
    yes vote himself, regardless of what AIPAC might otherwise want.

  19. Kunuri says:

    I fear and predict that some kind of false flag operation will take place in Turkey.
    The borders are practically open, there are over 400,000 refugees within the borders and they come and go into Syria as they please.
    In the last three weeks Turkish security forces have been intercepting unusual amounts of explosives especially around the border areas. It is proposed in the press that there are many Muhabarat operatives within Turkey.
    Of all western powers who are for attacking Syria, Turkish government is the most willing. By my latest count new reinforcements to the border are over 400 tanks, 40,000 combatant infantry and enough artillery to support such force. That is over and beyond the force already positioned along the border. It is a powder keg down there.
    Turkish government with NATO help trains and arms the rebels, some of it going to El Nusra and the like, all supervised by US, UK, German French special forces.
    So, given all that, a false flag operation is most likely to take place within Turkey, or involve Turkey for the aim of galvanizing public for intervention and getting Obama off the hook.

  20. Mark Logan says:

    steve g,
    “Just a few Indians down in that valley boys. Go get em’!”
    He’s got a sense of humor.

  21. Charles I says:

    I have noted more and more fervent noises coming from the Turks esp in the last 6 weeks. In particular, they seemed to rev up just after the exhaustion of the news cycle with the Jordanian request for a border zone & no fly discussed here a couple months ago. That went nowhere fast come to think of it, but cough cough here we are. . .
    Check out Jimmy Kimmel’s youtube Twerk girl sets self on fire hoax this week to see how easy it is to be lied to.

  22. Kunuri says:

    Charles I, please do not generalize Turks. Over 70 percent of regular Turks disapprove any kind of war in Syria and the AKP government does not represent Turks as a whole. Even the 50% vote thing is a myth, demonstrabily.
    For your information, they consider themselves Moslems and devoted members of Ummah(I hope I spelled it correctly) first, and then as Turks a reluctant second choice, as it fits their purpose.
    Oh, they know how to rev up or ease down the news cycle. Hell, here in Turkey they own the MSM. Literally.

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