Syria and Egypt – 9 September, 2013


"It should be no secret by now that much of the U.S. intelligence community is troubled by the quality of the information being used to justify a new war in the Middle East. It should also surprise no one to learn that former and current intelligence officers network and share information. For what it’s worth, one circle that I connect with has been buzzing over the past week with a discussion of the intelligence produced by the administration to justify war. A preponderance of roughly ten to one of our correspondents believe that the administration’s case for military intervention is greatly flawed, judging by the intelligence that has so far been revealed to justify an attack. The several dissenters from that view agree that the administration argument as expressed in its brief “Government Assessment” is lacking in corroborative detail and is a poorly written political document that pretends to be an intelligence assessment. But they are not yet at the point where they can support any single one of the alternative explanations for what took place in Syria three weeks ago and are willing to give the White House the benefit of the doubt. Which is not intended to suggest that anyone thinks that attacking Syria is desirable, either from a political, military, or practical point of view.
"  The American Conservative/ Giraldi


"September 8, 2013
As reported in the Mint Press News on August 29, 2013, the Jabhut al-Nusar militia, an al-Qaeda affiliated militia headquartered in Iraq, transported and released the Sarin gas used in the Ghouta gas attack. Mint Press reporter Yahya Ababneh was on the ground in Ghouta and spoke with members of the Jabhut al-Nusar militia and other rebels and their families who were directly affected by the gas. It was they who told him that the sarin gas had been provided by Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan. The gas was alleged to have been formulated in a former Iraqi chemical weapons factory.
The sarin gas was purportedly released by untrained members of the Jabhut al-Nusar militia in the town of Ghouta Sham. This allegation has been substantiated by Doctors without Borders who treated the injured survivors, including injured Jabhut militia members who complained that they had not been properly trained in the use of the gas weapons they had transported into Syria from Iraq. The Jabhut al-Nusar is reputed to be uncooperative and to maintain little communications with the other Syrian militias fighting against the Assad regime."


"The priest, Father Yoannis, moved behind a wall in the charred skeleton of an ancient monastery to describe how it was torched by Islamists and then looted when they took over Dalga, in southern Egypt, after the ouster of the country’s president, Mohamed Morsi, on July 3.
“The fire in the monastery burned intermittently for three days,” Father Yoannis said. “The looting continued for a week. At the end, not a wire or an electric switch is left.”  
  NY Times


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12 Responses to Syria and Egypt – 9 September, 2013

  1. Stroupe says:

    Gareth Porter has a useful article on the manipulation of the intelligence assessment.

  2. Charles I says:

    Stephen Starr, Freelance Reporter & Fmr. Editor, Syria Times, was on a TV Ontario panel on The Agenda last week, along with Rami Khouri, Director, Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy & International Affairs, American University of Beirut, and a couple of others. He had an important observation on Iraq.
    A resident of Damascus since 2007 Starr has just published
    ‘Revolt in Syria: Witness to Uprising’
    Starr claims, inter alia, that there are dozens and dozens of training camps of all flavors throughout Iraq feeding thousands of fighters into theater. This would comport with the Prince Bandar supplied Iraqi sarin to Al Nusra angle.
    Much more importantly, whatever the truth of the gas source, it is the future of Syria vis a vis Iran and Lebanon if we succeed there as in Iraq.
    Bonus: with more countries alight, surely that should increase the numbers, if not proportions, of “good” rebels to support.

  3. Charles I says:

    Forgot to mention that the whole panel, including University of Toronto Professor Janice Stein and Kamran Bokhari,Vice-President, Middle Eastern & South Asian Affairs, STRATFOR. It was unnervingly rational and can be watched at the link.

  4. FB Ali says:

    A couple of significant aspects of the situation are strangely missing in the current debate on Syria.
    The posturing by the administration of moral outrage on the ‘heinous’ crime of using chemical weapons is rendered quite hollow by the fact that this is not the first such recent occasion. Iraq used them extensively in its war with Iran, killing not hundreds but tens of thousands, including many non-combatants. But Saddam Husain was then considered a US ally and there was hardly a peep uttered by the US. The US even assisted Saddam in that war, and continued to do so after his use of chemical weapons. So much for moral outrage!
    The second issue not being raised is that by attacking Syria the US will be taking sides in the internal conflict within the Muslim world between Shias and Sunnis. The only active opponents of the Sunni jihadis are the Shia; by attacking Syria (and then, inevitably, Iran) the US will be seriously weakening those opposing and battling its own enemies — a strange, even crazy, act.
    That is why it is so important that the courageous action of Col Lang and his colleagues in publicly opposing this madness should succeed. If the US public remains firm in its opposition to an attack on Syria, the chances of a later attack on Iran are considerably minimized. That will serve the best interests of the United States. (And of all those Muslims who fervently hope that this crazy fever currently raging within the Muslim body-politic be rooted out).

  5. mbrenner says:

    In the latest odd twist, Putin may be offering Obama a way to climb out of the hole he has dug for himself. Avoiding the deleterious consequences underscored by FB Ali should now be the objective if reason prevails.
    The sheer diplomatic ineptitude of this crowd has made it possible for Putin to run rings round them without even working up a sweat. A harbinger of things to come down the road when China begins to assert itself more forcefully?

  6. ISL says:

    I recommend a read of:
    which discusses among other important points the rural/islamic versus urban/minority/divide across which the civil war spans. Specifically, that there is disdain for Damascus residents and minorities by many of the rebels/former farmers/radicalized rebels. The feeling appears to be mutual. This divide, at least in part, explains the tenacity of the govt support and how the war became so violent and brutal.
    The article also notes that the neighborhood of the attack, which was very close to where the inspectors were visiting, was gov’t, not rebel, territory.
    The “game change” that nobel peace prize-nick Obama is pushing for, will seal the fate of Syrian minorities and religious minorities. If this was a play, it would be a Greek Tragedy with elements of High Farce.

  7. clapping says:
    “We reiterate what we stated in our press release on August 24:
    MSF does not have the capacity to identify the cause of the neurotoxic symptoms of patients reported by three clinics supplied by MSF in Damascus governorate.
    MSF was not and is not directly present at these clinics.
    MSF does not possess the capacity or ability to determine or assign responsibility for the event that caused these reported symptoms to occur.
    Any statement or story that asserts any of these things is false.”

  8. FkDahl says:

    Belgian journalist (orignally pro FSA) states the rebels did it based on discussion he overheard – in English (!) – while prisoner with salafists.
    “nous avons entendu une conversation en anglais via Skype entre trois hommes”, a-t-il raconté. “Lors de cette conversation, les hommes disaient que l’opération au gaz dans les deux quartiers de Damas avait été commise par les rebelles comme provocation, pour pousser l’Occident à agir”
    English eh? If NSA cared to they could find out what was said on Skype …

  9. Jim Ticehurst says:

    And What “Crazy”: events..on or About September 11th, 2013..(Our “Patriot Day) will develop now…? Why is there mention of that after the events of last Year..? Hmmm ..Why does Beruit come to mind..and we are still on a Launch Ready status..just any excuse..any excuse at all..

  10. confusedponderer says:

    What I found most striking about the posturing by the administration of moral outrage on the ‘heinous’ crime of using chemical weapons, is that, and that was so also in the media, the premise is:
    “Chemical weapons were used – and Assad must be punished!”.
    The pofficial narrative, parotted by the media, leaves no doubt ‘who did it’, because Syria has CW and that means if CW were used it must have been them.
    Only it isn’t that simple or clear cut.
    There is a genuine potential that the rebels did it. Summarily denying they have the capability to produce CW is probably incorrect.
    Jihadis do have a record of staging chemical attacks in Iraq with chlorine spiked bombs.
    Jihadis were arrested in Turkey with quantities of Sarin. Where did they get that if they don’t have capability to produce it?
    What about Iran’s warning that Islamists have acquired chemical weapons?
    Even without all that, the Tokyo attacks prove that it is possible for non state actors to produce homegrown Sarin. The chemistry itself is 60 years old and probably by now well known. Probably, Islamists have taken over pharamceutical and chemical plants. What about all that?
    Oh never mind. Nothing to see, move along!
    Would the US administration would switch bomb the rebels if it turned out that it was them who did the chemical attacks? I’d like to see someone ask that question at a whitehouse press conference.
    But the point is moot, since obviously the US wouldn’t.
    The Obamaites want to bring Assad down, not be the enforcer on a ban on chemcical weapons use or international norms on how to properly kill people. When Sisi had 800 killed in Kairo did the US wan to bomb him? No, and why?
    It is apparent that the US is not interested in punishing the guilty party in the CW incident in syria, let alone going through the hassle of determining who the guilty party is, probably beause they don’t want to know the answer to that question.
    They have designated Assad the guilty party, and for their practical puposes that fiction suffices.
    That is underlined by US conduct, like limiting inspctor’s mandates to determining ‘what was used’ (and not by whom also), the cherry picking intelligence, and in particular the reliance on facebook and youtube for plain emotive effect.
    This is 2002/2003 all over again. Sickening.

  11. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I was thinking of the same thing, that Putin has supplied Obama with diplomatic cover.

  12. YT says:

    ἡμῶν γὰρ ἄνδρες, κοὐχὶ τὴν πόλιν λέγω,
    μέμνησθε τοῦθ᾽ ὅτι οὐχὶ τὴν πόλιν λέγω,
    ἀλλ᾽ ἀνδράρια μοχθηρά, παρακεκομμένα…
    People among us, and I don’t mean the polis,
    Remember this — I don’t mean the polis –
    But wicked little men of a counterfeit kind…

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