Gas missiles ‘were not sold to Syria’ – Fiske


"Russia's new "evidence" about the attack includes the dates of export of the specific rockets used and – more importantly – the countries to which they were originally sold. They were apparently manufactured in the Soviet Union in 1967 and sold by Moscow to three Arab countries, Yemen, Egypt and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's Libya. These details cannot be verified in documents, and Vladimir Putin has not revealed the reasons why he told Barack Obama that he knows Assad's army did not fire the sarin missiles; but if the information is correct – and it is believed to have come from Moscow – Russia did not sell this particular batch of chemical munitions to Syria.
"  Fiske


"Saudi Arabia miscalculated the ease with which US-led Western powers could quickly organize a military strike on Syria following the now-confirmed chemical attack of Aug. 21. The push for a quick strike stumbled in Washington, London and Paris, giving way to high-level diplomacy between the United States and Russia and disappointment in Saudi Arabia. The US-Russian framework for the elimination of Syria's chemical arsenal appears to be a deviation from Riyadh’s immediate objectives. By focusing on the sole objective of removing the Bashar al-Assad regime from power, the Saudi leadership may have overlooked that despite having important resources and weight, regional powers like itself can today be constrained by the changing international environment.
  Madawi-al Rasheed for Al-Monitor


Artillery rockets are not "chemical munitions."  They can be a delivery system for high explosives, smoke or chemical munitions.  Nevertheless, this information if true is significant.  Syria has had a long standing and deep relationship of military supply with first the USSR and now Russia.  Low tech supplies like artillery rockets would have been bought (on credit usually) by the Syrian government from the manufacturer not from a third party like Libya. 

There has been a persistant rumor that the Syrian jihadi rebels are being supplied from former Libyan government stocks using Gulf Arab Sunni money as the medium of exchange.

Will this give pause to the war enthusiasts in their drive to replace Assad's government?  I doubt it.  It will simply be said that Russia lies.  pl






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38 Responses to Gas missiles ‘were not sold to Syria’ – Fiske

  1. Kyle Pearson says:

    I have nothing to contribute to this discussion, about the rockets. As ever, i shall read it religiously.
    But the allegations promoted by this Nun (to whom i link, below) are provocative, to say the least.
    I am curious to hear how the intelligence professionals on this board evaluate this report. If y’all think it is valuable, then i am anxious to hear how y’all think it shall be discredited (beyond the RT source).

  2. confusedponderer says:

    “Will this give pause to the war enthusiasts in their drive to replace Assad’s government? I doubt it. It will simply be said that Russia lies.”
    At best the media will turn this into a ‘he said, she said – we’re clueless’ affair, and then sympathies will decide what people will choose to believe, and they will choose in accordance with their pre-existing biases – i.e. since the Russians are still very ‘evil’ and Putin ‘is a thug’ the US audience won’t believe him.
    Facts don’t matter at all, perception does.
    The narrative of the events in Syria as spun by the propagandists and the mainstream media is massaging this false perception into the American audience.
    Don’t expect any of the talking heads questioning any of that.

  3. LeaNder says:

    Pat in his usual to-the-fact-curtness–I did not follow this closely–probably made you aware of the social media emotional trigger.
    Now on one hand this could be a tool of the “weak” on the other, it deserves reflection that the supposedly surprised weak were that well prepared.

  4. Some weeks ago, ‘walrus’ referred to the reports back in January that hackers had penetrated the servers of the British private security firm Britam Defence, and discovered an e-mail from senior executives at the company which read as follows:
    ‘We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington.
    ‘We’ll have to deliver a CW to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have.
    ‘They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record.
    ‘Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous. Your opinion?
    ‘Kind regards David’
    (For a summary, see )
    Having done a few checks on the story, my suspicion is that it may well be a disinformation operation by the ‘Syrian Electronic Army’ — rather than an accurate report by them of a planned disinformation operation.
    On the other hand, the kind of scenario posited in the report — Soviet or Russia munitions identical or similar to those supplied to Syria being obtained from other locations, and used in a ‘false flag’ operation — may well correspond to what Syrian, Iranian and Russian intelligence services have thought was likely to be going on.
    Moreover, if one does some quick checks on Britam, it comes to seem extremely likely that this is the kind of outfit those intelligence services would suspect. Accordingly, it would be eminently unsurprising if they or people linked to them had hacked into its servers.
    My strong hunch, however, would be that, having failed to find a ‘smoking gun’, whoever was responsible for the hacking made one up.
    Even if false, then, the story might be extremely interesting. It would suggest that for some considerable time, Syrian, Iranian and Russian intelligence services may have been anticipating the kind of ‘false flag’ operation which Fisk suggests the Russians are now claiming happened.

  5. Fred says:

    It gets better all the time. I wonder if we will have our ‘observers’ jointly or separately? If the US sends any they should be even more concerned about FSA red flag ops than the Syrians are:

  6. mac says:

    There are so many important issues wrapped up in the Syrian war, among them, is Russia’s standing vis-à-vis the West and, perhaps most significantly, their elevation to being the ‘adult in the room/voice of reason’ on questions of war and peace.
    I did not think I would live to see the day where Moscow was more credible on a moral crisis than Washington. Did you? Did anyone?

  7. Babak Makkinejad says:

    From Previous thread:
    US is in love with Israel and she will carry any burden for her.
    This is not rational behavior as you would think.

  8. Harper says:

    A UN report issued last week confirms that Libya is the number one supplier of arms to the Syrian rebels. This is not “Russian propaganda” or anything but the findings of the UN investigators in charge of monitoring the arms sanctions on Libya. Earlier reports detailed shipments of weapons from Libya, via ship and later via Qatari airlifts to the Syrian rebels. The actual documentation from purportedly reputable international organizations tells a tale that the neocons cannot refute, except by attacking the UN. Congress is awaiting a vote on creating a select committee on Benghazi. Among the questions such a Congressional probe would seek to answer is: What was the mission of the 35 CIA officers operating out of the Benghazi annex? There are repeated allegations that the flow of Libyan arms to Syrian rebels, via Qatar and Turkey, which is well-documented in the UN sanctions committee investigations, came out of Benghazi with US sponsorship and clandestine support. Now Ben Caspit, a respected Israeli journalist has written in Al-Monitor that there are Israeli military intelligence experts who believe that the rebels, not the Syrian Army, did Goutha CW attacks. Worth reading, considering it is coming from Israeli intelligence sources.

  9. mike says:

    I am against US intervention militarily. The UN report claims there were two different rocket types used:
    140mm with Cyrillic markings and 330mm with no markings at all mentioned. I understood that neither Russia nor the former Soviet Union made 330mm rockets although they did make the 140mm. There are some OSINT indications that Iran makes the 330mm. Although I am not in the business anymore and may be wrong about the 330mm not being Russian made. The Washington Post and also Inagist claims the 330mm is Iranian made.
    In any case lets hope the bomb-bomb-bomb crowd doesn’t do anything rash regardless of where the rockets came from.

  10. ISL says:

    I did not foresee when I was growing up that the US would go to the darkside.
    George Lucas was prescient in how the republic was lost.
    “Palpatine was an efficient and effective leader who quickly brought to an end the corruption in the Senate; his power was greatly increased as a result of the Clone Wars, while the Senate willingly furnished more and more emergency powers to him. Eventually, the Senate lost most of its power and became little more than a formality that Palpatine had to go through to pass his laws.Yet the Senate did have a symbolic power at least; Chancellor Palpatine still hid behind the pomp and circumstance of appealing to the Senate, but his power existed in his control over thousands of Senators that he had brought into his own web of corruption.”
    from wookipedia
    Snowden revealed the mechanism of control in a dirty political system. I fear George Lucas’s prescience remains.

  11. Ursa Maior says:

    To be honest not in my wildest dreams. And especially now that the LMBT and human rights crowds are running amok, the russians can claim, and this time with credibility, that they are the Third Rome again. Protecting civilization from the barbarians.

  12. johnf says:

    I’m an amateur amongst professionals.
    The opening of the UN this week and the Western public’s reaction all the big moves planned for it seems to be the big prize at the moment. To be crude, its SCO vs The West.
    As DH says above, The probable Britam scam can be seen as a holding operation by SCO in the Syrian propaganda war. This recent Fiske story on the origin of the rockets could be a first SCO “salvo”, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more came out during the week. The more The West’s truthfulness is undermined, the more chance the Syrian and Iranian peace moves have of succeeding.
    On The West’s propaganda side, I know this is a a long shot, but who finances al-Shabab? I know they’re Sunni jihadis but their actions underline in the West’s public’s mind their perception of all Muslims as being generally untrustworthy and extremely violent. The Israelis have, apparently, been central in the fitting in Nairobi. Against this theory would seem to be the very high percentage of Western jihadis in the operation – a factor which I think would probably mean the operation took a long time to plan.
    Shoot me down in flames!

  13. mac,
    “I did not think I would live to see the day where Moscow was more credible on a moral crisis than Washington. Did you? Did anyone?”
    It has come as no surprise to me at all.
    Contemporary Russia is a society with all kinds of problems. A number of them, to put it mildly, compromise the country’s ‘moral standing’ – prominent among them weak rule of law, very widespread corruption, and extensive interpenetration of organised crime, ‘legitimate’ business, and politics.
    However, since the Yeltsin-era ‘liberals’ (irony alert) and their crimogenic Harvard Fachidioten advisers were replaced by the former KGB operative Vladimir Putin, conditions for the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Russian Federation have got very markedly better.
    Moreover, if one bothers to read what Putin writes, two things are amply apparent which are extremely relevant to the situation in Syria and indeed the whole Middle East. One is that Russian experience of revolutions – both those against Tsarism at the start of the twentieth century and that against communism at its end – inclines him to a traditionally conservative caution about radical change which seems almost entirely to have disappeared in the West.
    Another is that Putin is acutely aware of how difficult it can be to maintain ‘civil peace’. Facile western rhetoric about ‘multiculturalism’ obscures the fact that it can be acutely difficult for different cultures and religions to coexist harmoniously.
    A universalistic and covertly millenarian nationalism, which sees one’s country as paving the way to a utopian future for the rest of the world, remains available as an integrator of peoples of diverse origin in the United States. But precisely that fact helps make much American thinking about these problems largely irrelevant to the dilemmas faced by many less fortunate peoples.
    In Russia, and indeed the whole post-Soviet space, the massive scars left by the attempt to build a common identity on the basis of a universalistic millenarian ideology greatly compound the problems of finding new identities which can encompass different ethnic and religious groups.
    As Putin notes in his article on ‘The ethnicity issue’, contemporary Russia is a country where ‘the civil war has not yet ended in the minds of many and where the past is extremely politicized and “broken up” into ideological quotations (often interpreted by different people in exactly opposite ways)’.
    How much prospect the kind of ‘subtle cultural therapy’ which Putin puts forward as the solution to these problems has of succeeding one can debate. Likewise, with Putin as with others, there is not uncommonly a major gap between idealistic words and Machiavellian – and sometimes acutely brutal – practice.
    However, if one reads the articles Putin published in the Russian press prior to last year’s presidential election, it is clear that they express the thinking of someone who is seriously attempting to wrestle with problems in relation to which the attitudes of people in Washington and London are frequently simply frivolous.
    (For the articles, see ; )

  14. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Russia has had longer experiences dealing with alien people than any other European state, excepting the defunct Ottoman Empire.
    I think that more than 10% of the Russian population is Muslim; even Chechens speak flawless Russian. For them, multi-cultural-ism is not a luxury, it is an issue of state cohesion and survival.
    Let us accept the fact that outside of Russia, there has been no persistent and long-term toleration for non-Europeans – not in Spain after the Re-Conquest, and not later when the largest non-European ethno-religious group in Europe was destroyed during World War II.
    I wonder how long the Muslim communities in Europe are going to last; so far it has not been even 70 years.
    The Communists and the Capitalists had one thing in common: a persistent belief in and commitment to the validity of the Enlightenment Prject to the exclusion of any Transcendental Belief in God.
    The Communists were just more brutal.

  15. JohnH says:

    Great stuff! Can you provide links?

  16. Tyler says:

    Mr. Habakkuk,
    What is your take on Putin and the defense of Christians in the MENA sphere nad how that influences his actions, seeing as how the West and the Vatican have abandoned those communities by and large?

  17. Stephanie says:

    Fisk is careful to place quotes around the word “evidence,” since the Russians haven’t yet supplied any. It would be helpful if the US and the Russians would present for examination the evidence they claim to have regarding Ghouta.
    The UN report notes that whoever launched the attack chose a time that was most propitious for ensuring the gas would seep down to people already hiding underground from the Assad regime’s bombs. Very nasty work by someone.

  18. confusedponderer says:
    ” This week I met with an unofficial Israeli source with a background in IDF’s intelligence branch, though that was quite some time ago. The man is not connected to the updated intelligence milieu and does not receive information from official intelligence sources. He is a high-tech person with many achievements and great experience in that field. He developed methods for comparing and cross-checking information, methods that have mainly proven themselves when hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands of sources are involved. He wrote a document that rebuts one by one the claims and evidences by which the Assad regime is held responsible for the use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21 in Syria.
    The formative concept is simple: There is evidence that there was a chemical attack on Syrian soldiers in Khan al-Assal in March. A Russian commission of inquiry dealt with this, and there are quite a few experts who think that this actually took place. Who can prove to us that the more recent and severe incident in August did not involve an attack by one of the extremist rebel groups on another rebel group? According to my source, most of the complaints and reports on the ground, from the mouths of the victims or their relatives, describe chemical gas characteristics that do not typify sarin, the gas used by the Syrian army. Sarin does not have the yellow color or odor as described in the complaints; in fact, sarin is odorless and tasteless. By contrast, these characteristics could fit the kind of nerve gas produced in an improvised facility and then used by groups affiliated with al-Qaeda activity in Syria. It is possible.
    My source adds a long list of details, proofs and supporting evidence. He feels that the intelligence description of the measures taken by the Syrian army before the attack (such as donning gas masks), the orders heard on the two-way radio, the region from which the missiles were fired, etc. — all these do not prove anything. Western intelligence organizations collect thousands of new data from Syria every day. In this jumble of information, you can always find whatever you are looking for: this or that directive given, this or that shooting. This kind of evidence is circumstantial.
    Since the Syrian army is also concerned that the rebels may have chemical weapons, it is logical that they would adopt countermeasures in certain situations. According to my source, the initial testimony about the use of gas arrived from the field only an hour and a half after the Syrian army’s shelling of the site. This makes no sense, he says; when such a thing happens, the first Twitter message appears almost immediately, or a quarter-half hour later at the latest. In our instance, it took more than an hour and a half, so that this fact definitely supports the “alternative theory” option.
    I asked him, what is a possible alternative theory? He said, Let’s say that a rebel group like Jabhat al-Nusra (affiliated with al-Qaeda), or the ISIS organization (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also affiliated with Sunni extremists), wanted to hit the Free Syrian Army (FSA). They could have exploited the Syrian army bombardment to launch a gas bomb on the same neighborhood, under cover of Assad’s shelling.
    And by the way, says the source, the neighborhood that was attacked is considered to “belong” to the FSA, the key opposition organization. In such a situation, he explains, the extremist rebels win on all counts: They strike their competitors and also galvanize America into military action against Assad, finally. This is a classic win-win situation, and from the huge amount of evidence that I accumulated, I can’t say that it is totally illogical.
    In addition, adds my source, Assad would have to be totally detached from reality or be a Shiite suicide bomber to use such large quantities of chemical weapons and in such intensity, precisely when the rebels are weakening and he is gaining momentum. It seems to me — he says — like a classic “false flag” instance: when an operational tactic is executed by a certain party, but attributed to another party whether intentionally or accidentally. I suggest we wait patiently until the UN inspectors complete their report; perhaps it can illuminate the situation more precisely, so says my source.”

  19. Ursa Maior says:

    Could not agree more. The only part worth mentioning of the sequels to Star Wars (EP I – III that is), was the gradual transformation of the Galactic Republic to the Empire, all that in the name security.
    What is frightening that Lucas probably wrote it as a reaction to Dubya’s actions, and OBH proved to be not significantly different. Especially under the banner of ‘Change’.

  20. confusedponderer says:

    Try this:
    I find the idea implausible that the Syrian Army would develop a primitive thing like that for the purpose of delivering CW when they have conventional artillery, that already could do that without all the fuss just by loading different ammo.
    They mention that Hamas built missiles like that. That is interesting because it could provide the missing link.
    Hamas allegedly did train Syrian rebel fighters. That could explain how Syrian rebels could have acquired the know how for building such a rocket.

  21. confusedponderer says:

    “There are some OSINT indications that Iran makes the 330mm.”
    The 330mm rocket that Iran builds is named Fadjr-5.
    Nothing on it looks like the remains of the munition used in the Syrian CW attack.
    If one looks at this on the other hand …
    … and the images of the rocket in the video on the blog I linked to before …
    … it appears tht it is possible to build stuff like that … say, the rebels took a 122 or so rocket they got sonewhere, say Libya, and flanged a new warheat to it to hold chemicals, and add a bursting charge and an airburst fuse …
    … not ‘exaclty rocket science’. The CEP of that thing must be terrible, but ‘good enough’ for hitting a general area.
    One can on the internet find rather easily basic schematics of how old US cold war CW were build like. Many things that were in the past military secrets are now common knowledge. It is somewhat disturbing what today can be build with available materials in a halfway decently equipped workshop.
    Pakistan has a cottage industry that builds Kalashnikov copies from scrap metal – not awesome stuff, but good anough to start a ruckus. The Iraqi insurgents were better than that and built explosively formed penetrator mines to target US armoured vehicles. Hamas, under constant Israeli siege and surveilance builds DIY rocket atillery. Then there are IED and so on.
    We live in interesting times.
    Aum cooked Sarin in a private factory. They could do that because one of their members had studied chemistry. Aum also had biological wesapons program, led by a guy who studied biology. Turkey arrested Islamists with Sarin and precursors in Turkey, so they probably are giving CW a shot.,0,4224285.story

  22. confusedponderer says:

    i.e. there is a strong circumstantial case that indeed the rebels did it.
    Means, motive, opportunity and incentives – all there.

  23. Tyler,
    An interesting article on the role of religion in contemporary Soviet foreign policy was published in July by Dmitri Trenin, who heads the Carnegie Moscow Center. An excerpt:
    ‘Last Thursday in the Kremlin, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin hosted senior leaders of all 15 national Christian Orthodox Churches. The occasion was the 1,025th anniversary of the baptism of Rus. The Russian president hailed the adoption of Christianity as the civilizational choice of Russia, and called it the spiritual pillar of the Russian people.
    ‘That the Kremlin’s domestic policy has moved toward traditional values is a salient feature of Putin’s current presidency. Profession of universal values or common European norms and principles has stopped. In lieu of the Council of Europe, the Moscow Patriarchate is now the principal norm-setter. Other traditional religions: Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism are also welcome as partners of the State.
    ‘The state-supported comeback of traditional religious faith in Russia has a foreign policy dimension. Both Putin and Patriarch Kirill spoke about the plight of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, in particular in Syria. According to the head of the Russian Church, the very presence of Christianity in the Middle East, its historical birthplace, is in danger. Should “physical destruction” or “pushing out” of Christianity happen, it will be a “civilizational catastrophe.”’
    ‘Ever since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Moscow has been looking for a distinct international role. Now the Kremlin appears to have found it. It is based on conservative nationalism; support for traditional international law with its emphasis on national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs of states; and a strong preference for evolutionary path of development over revolutionary upheavals. Thus, Russia is strongly opposed to liberal interventionism; democracy promotion; and regime change instigated from abroad.’
    (See )
    Concern for the fate of Christians in the Middle East, and implacable opposition to Saudi-sponsored Wahhabism, mesh naturally with the ways in which Putin has sought to define Russian national identity. However, I think it is great mistake to think of him as simply cynical. In a more recent piece, Trenin discussed the tug of war beginning over the Ukraine, in the wake of that country’s association agreement with the European Union.
    Having argued that in terms of a ‘realpolitik’ reading of Russian interests it make more sense to abandon the attempt to persuade the Ukraine to join the Eurasian Union, Trenin suggested that Putin’s approach reflected own ‘emotional, even romantic attitude toward the “cradle of Russian civilization”, remarking that he ‘seems to genuinely believe in the transcendental Orthodox unity of Eastern Slavs and has vowed to restore it.’
    (See )
    The missionaries who were responsible for the ‘baptism of Rus’ in Kiev in AD988 of course came from Byzantium. That Russian Christianity is Hellenic, rather than Roman, may also have a good deal of bearing on Putin’s attitudes to the fate of Christians in Syria and the Middle East. The ‘emotional, even romantic’ element in his make-up is also, in my view, far more important than most people in the West realise.

  24. Babak Makkinejad,
    Tocqueville pointed a very long time ago to the way in which the idea of humans as equal very easily slid into the view of them as essentially identical. Much – although not all – modern Western ‘multiculturalism’ does not really recognise cultural difference – it simply treats ‘culture’ as a kind of ‘tinsel’.
    Accordingly, a central contemporary problem – that of how peoples who are different can find some way of coexisting – is one about which in general people in positions of influence in contemporary Washington, and London, have little useful to say. It is symptomatic that the same ‘New Labour’ people who lectured us on the virtues of ‘multiculturalism’ cheerfully involved us in what was, in effect, a kind of ‘soft totalitarian’ project to turn Muslim countries into clones of ourselves.

  25. Matthew says:

    BM: There really is no such thing as a “decent” Neo-Con. See

  26. Kyle Pearson says:

    Thanks, LeaNder.

  27. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, they are talking about things that they know nothing about.
    Hillary Clinton wrote a book titled “It takes a Village” and a friend of mine who actually had lived in an Indian village for year told me that he preferred to have lived in a Japanese PoW camp.

  28. different clue says:

    If one could somehow get this comment into the hands and minds of the FSA leadership and followership, might it encourage them to accept a truce with the Assad government long enough for both to join forces against the Nusra and ISIS type groups till they are defeated to FSA’s and Assad’s satisfaction? Perhaps in that instance the FSA and the Assadistas and the Hezbollah could cooperate to make it a “three on two” fight.(And perhaps it would be too much to hope that the FSA and Assad forces would maintain that truce and build out from there after the others were eliminated?)

  29. Tyler says:

    Mr. Habakkuk,
    Thank you for your erudition.
    One of the more interesting things to me is the inability to come to grips with how the world has so drastically changed viz a viz Russia and America. I’ve heard populist conservatives rail against that “KGB thug” Putin being against homosexuals and throwing women in prison (Pussy Riot) and then in the next breathe complain about the treatment of Christianity and militant homosexuality.
    Its a very odd dichotomy, and I wonder how much of the ignorance is willfull and how much is just the media framing the debate as “freedumb versus tyranny!”. The Time cover fiasco certainly lends credence to the latter. They’re certainly responsible for framing Putin as a cold hard autocrat with no other concerns than power for power’s sake – the role of Western neoliberal economists who looted Russia isn’t to be discussed.
    Are they that worried that there’s a major power out there offering an alternative to Western neoliberal utopian secularism? Maybe the Russians, having seen the results of what happens when you try to pretend humanity is a ‘blank slate’, are less impressed by such nonsense.

  30. mike says:

    CP –
    The Iranians also make the 330mm Falaq-2. And there is a single tube lorrie-mounted version of the launcher sometimes disguised as a commercial cargo vehicle used by both Iran and Syria.
    I am not saying the Syrian Army launched it. I am not saying the FSA or a faction launched it. I believe we should all keep an open mind.
    In any case, mo matter who launched it, we should not intervene militarily as I said before.

  31. confusedponderer says:

    Then there is the possibility that Jihadis captured these rockets and launchers and ‘fixed’ the rockets for CW use.
    Of course the Syrian army could have done that also.
    What I wonder is why the Syrian military would buy or even want something like the Falaq-2. It is inferior to everything they have, including their old 122mm Grad.
    It is unlikely that the rockets came from Iran supplied with CW agents. Iran’s stance against CW, ever since they have been at the receiving end, is firm.
    So, again, why? The Syrian army has all the delivery systems they’d need for chemical fires without having to go through the hassle of getting a new, inferior delivery system.

  32. mike says:

    CP –
    Lots of possibilities. Hezbollah is another. And so are rogue elements of Assad’s Army. I am not arguing for or against either. But they should be considered along with the others.
    Myself, I am just glad that Assad has agreed to put his CW under UN control. We should all hope that goes smooth.

  33. Tyler,
    The legacy of past conflict not uncommonly creates major problems for the cohesion of societies. Something I have come to realise from this blog, over the years, is that the wounds of America’s own civil war are by no means entirely healed (irony alert).
    Last November, Colonel Lang posted a fine piece by Kieran Wanduragala, pointing out the disturbing implications of the way that Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln film portrayed the Civil War as a simple conflict between good and evil.
    Whether demonising people whose descendants are very much alive and well and conscious of their heritage – or who have adopted that heritage through what is sometimes called ‘elective affinity’ – holds dangers for the United States I cannot tell. Throughout the post-Soviet space, it is quite patently a recipe for disaster. Consider for example the shocked horror with which Western commentators describe the relatively high approval ratings for Stalin among Russians (still lower than among Georgians, however!)
    The simple fact of the matter is that Stalin is at one and the same time one of the most brutal tyrants in history, and the victorious leader in what was, quite literally, a war for national survival: if Soviets had lost, most of the peoples of the Soviet Union would have been exterminated or turned into serfs.
    This is the kind of conflict which nobody in the United States, or indeed to a lesser extent the United Kingdom, has experienced. There was not, and also could not have been, a siege of London, in which the population was supposed to be exterminated – as was the case with Putin’s native city. And Americans do not have the experience, common not only among continental Europeans but among British people, of being bombed.
    It is also relevant to bear in mind that, when the Western invaders were at the gates of Moscow, Stalin stayed in the city. If so many contemporary Westerners did not have what imagination they started with educated out of them, they might perhaps be able to understand both how different people have radically different views of Stalin, and also how the same people may have deeply conflicted views.
    Subject to correction, I would suggest that some of the more important films of John Ford are really myths of reconciliation – attempting to create a history in which Unionists and Confederates could seem to belong in the same nation through something more than the verdict of defeat.
    Something that is simply not appreciated in the West is that Putin has been attempting to create myths of reconciliation, and that the war is critical to this. Central to Putin is an implacable opposition to ethnic Russian nationalism. In its place, he seeks to put a conception of the Russian nation in which, while Orthodoxy is given central place, anyone who wants to identify with the grandeurs – which are real, as well as the miseries – of the history of the Russian state can join.
    A classic song of mourning for the soldiers of the Red Army, ‘Cranes’ was written by a Dagestani poet, Razul Gamzatov, in the Azar language. Among many versions on Youtube, one puts the version of the song by Mark Bernes, who popularised it, together with images from a classic Soviet film, ‘The Cranes are Flying’, directed in 1957 by the Georgian-born Soviet director Mikhail Kalatozov.
    (See )

  34. confusedponderer says:

    hezbollah? Who say of themselves that they need not attack Israeli tourists because they don’t play in amateur and savagery league like Al Qaeda? Who apparently sucessfully targeted Israeli bases, installations and airfields in 2006? Hezbollah who halted the IDF in 2006 with sound light infantry tactics?
    Ok. Hezbollah did receive arms from Iran, and the Falaq-2 just looks what would serve them reasonably well in South Lebanon.
    Let’s play through some Hezbollah scenarios. For the sake of argument, here’s what comes to my mind:
    (a) Hezbollah secretly cooks Sarin (or got it from Assad), fills it in to an Iranian built misile (or got a readymade one from the Syrian army), fires it at Syrian opposition who they were successfully pushing back anyway?
    (b) Hezbollah secretly cooks Sarin (or got it from Assad), fills it in to an Iranian built misile (or got a readymade one from the Syrian army), fires it in hope nobody will notice or make a big deal out of it?!
    (c) Hezbollah secretly cooks Sarin (or got it from Assad), fills it in to an Iranian built misile (or got a readymade one from the Syrian army), fires it in order to … frame their ally, the Assad government??!
    (d) Hezbollah secretly cooks Sarin (or got it from Assad), fills it in to an Iranian built misile (or got a readymade one from the Syrian army), fires it in order to frame the rebels – at a time the Assad government had inspectors in country which in face of a hostile and attentive international audience guaranted that Assad would be blamed???!
    (e) A rogue Hezbollah unit secretly cooks Sarin (or got it from Assad), fills it in to an Iranian built misile (or got a readymade one from the Syrian army), fires it in order to … ????!
    Hezbollah has effective and resilient command and control. They were able to order an immediate ceasefire, which was obnserved during 2006. They appear to be a very disciplined force.
    Yes, there’s lots of possible scenarios, not to mention the known and unknown unknowns. But come on, Hezbollah as a suspect in the CW incident in Syria is probably BS.

  35. confusedponderer says:

    … and in the spirit of johnf – shoot me down in flames!

  36. confusedponderer says:

    This is the Falagh-2:
    If the single tube lorrie-mounted version of the Falagh-2 launcher was used, then it fired something different than a Falagh-2 rocket.
    The tail debris looks different than the rocket that Iran advertises as a Falagh-2.

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