by Willy B
A report posted by the Wall Street Journal, late yesterday, gives reason to ask that question. "President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has approved the use of chlorine gas in an offensive against the country's last major rebel stronghold, U.S. officials said, raising the prospects for another retaliatory U.S. military strike as thousands try to escape what could be a decisive battle in the seven-year-old war," it begins. "In a recent discussion about Syria, people familiar with the exchange said, President Trump threatened to conduct a massive attack against Mr. Assad if he carries out a massacre in Idlib…" After this hearsay, it does go on to say that while the US miltary has developed attack options, "Trump hasn't decided what exactly would trigger a military response or whether the U.S. would target Russian or Iranian military forces aiding Mr. Assad in Syria, U.S. officials said." The US administration could, instead, rely on economic sanctions or unspecified political tools, but I doubt the neo-cons who have hijacked U.S. Middle East policy would be satisfied with such measures.
The Journal article otherwise repeats ad nauseum all of the propaganda about Assad and chemical weapons, including quotes from Bob Woodward's latest book, demonstrating how deeply entrenched it has become, like the "intelligence" about Saddam Hussein's WMD in the run up to the Iraq invasion. "I will not comment on U.S. military plans, but Assad's use of chemical weapons, sarin and chlorine, and disregard for civilian lives is well documented and contrary to regional stability," Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said. Clearly, the Al Qaeda terrorists that run Idlib are getting a free pass.
The propaganda and the pressure for war is apparently getting results in Germany. The German Bild tabloid reported yesterday (here in English translation) that the German government is now considering joining any US-UK-French offensive against Syrian government troops. Previously, Angela Merkel has rejected German participation in such military actions "But now a radical change is being discussed in the ministry." Ursula von der Leyen, the defense minister, appears to be fully onboard. According to Bild's account, it began with a request from the US side, and progressed to meetings of experts between the German Defense Ministry and the US military attache. The two sides discussed several options relating to a possible military alliance against Assad, including pre- and post-strike reconnaissance and even combat missions. "Should Assad verifiably use chemical weapons against its own people again, armed Bundeswehr [Luftwaffe actually] Tornados could fly attacks on military infrastructure — barracks, air bases, command posts, ammunition and weapon depots, factories, and research centers, for example," Biild reports. "In doing so, Germany would risk a direct confrontation with Syria's allied Russia for the first time." The Defense Ministry and the Foreign Office, in a statement to Bild, would only say: "The situation in Syria gives cause for grave concern. Of course, we are in close contact with our American ally and European partners during these times."
If Merkel were to decide to move closer to the US, the British and the French on Syria, she might not have the support of her coalition partner. The Social Democrats' (SPD) chair, Andrea Nahles, reacted to the report by saying that "the SPD will not approve Germany joining the war in Syria, neither in parliament nor in the government," according to news agency dpa, reports DW.
I haven't yet seen a Russian response these latest provocations, unless one considers the interview with our friend Virginia Senator Richard Black by Sputnik to be a Russian response, as he thoroughly demolishes the assertions in the WSJ piece. "I've studied each of these gas attack provocations and with the exception of Douma, every one of them has been carried out by the terrorists, often in conjunction with Turkey or with other foreign intelligence agencies," he said. As for the exception, "There never was a gas attack in Douma," because Syrian army units had overrun the jihadi's chemical stocks and so they had to fake it. Black notes that he knows this because his good friend Pearson Short, who works for One America News, hurried down to Douma from Damascus after the "attack" was reported only to find people replying to his queries by asking "what gas attack?" The Independent's Robert Fisk followed a few days later and found the same thing, that it had all been faked. Short and Fisk are the only two Western journalists that I know of that actually reported on the ground from Douma days after it was liberated.
"It was all staged and fake. There is sort of a pattern on these things. I began to pick up in the British media about four weeks ago these panic announcements that Syria was going to use gas. To me it's always a signal that they are about to stage one of these staged gas attacks. I think there's a very real danger," Black said. "No American journalist has ever asked if Syria had gas in the first place. If they were so desperate to use gas, why don't they use it against the terrorists? There are 50,000 terrorists in the province of Idlib. Why do they always use them against women with baby strollers and old men? There is no answer to it. It's irrational. No rational person would believe that this was possible."