Saturday, April 08, 2017

Ghouta II: Try, Try Again for War Framers

Chemical Attack in Idlib — Duplication of Eastern Ghouta Scenario

by Mariam Alhijab - Inside Syria Media Center

April 8, 2017

On April 7, two U.S. Navy battleships USS Porter (DDG-78) and USS Ross launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at al-Shayrat military airfield in Syria’s Homs province from the Eastern Mediterranean. The U.S. strikes particularly targeted the main landing strip, aircraft, radio locators, air defense system and fuel stations.

The strike was approved by U.S. President Donald Trump, who said that the Syrian Air Force had used affiliated al-Shayrat air base to prepare chemical attack on the city of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib.

 “It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons”, Trump said.

Previously, on April 4, several European states accused Syrian Air Force of using warfare poisonous agents while striking Khan Shaykhun. Syrian government, in its turn, refuted these accusations, stating that the target of the strike was a militants’ position where they had organized a chemical depot. The strike led to the spread of poisonous agents and dozens of casualties among civilians.

Though the situation in Khan Shaykhun is still unclear, the U.S., France, and Great Britain have already prepared and sent a draft resolution to the U.N. In their draft, they put the responsibility for the death of civilians on the Syrian government. The tragedy in Khan Shaykhun allowed Washington to duplicate the scenario developed in 2013 for a chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta. Then the U.S. President Barack Obama also considered a possible military strike on Syria, allegedly in order to prevent the use of chemical weapons in future.

However, in 2013 several reasons prevented the U.S. from initiating large-scale aggression against Syria. Just after being published, the materials about the use of chemical weapons began to acquire additional details, which indirectly indicated the involvement of the U.S. and their allied groups in the false flag chemical attack. It turned out that this provocative act had been preliminary and carefully planned by the military experts. This is evidenced by hacked correspondence of U.S. Army Colonel Anthony Jamie MacDonald, who was General Staff Director, Operations and Plans Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Army Intelligence in 2013. On August 22, the day after the chemical attack, MacDonald received a message from his colleague Eugene Furst with congratulations on the “successful operation” and a link reference to an article on Eastern Ghouta in The Washington Post.

The media leak of MacDonald’s correspondence has become another piece of evidence proving that the Syrian government was not involved in the use of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta.

Earlier, Damascus had already been blamed for using poisonous substances, but all these attempts to make the accusations stick have failed. In the same 2013, the UN investigation proved that the militants were responsible for the use of sarin . Carla Del Ponte, the head of the UN commission, stated so publicly. Subsequently, it turned out that the availability of chemical ammunition among opposition groups was recorded on video.

Moreover, some American analysts also pointed out the doubtful nature of the information claiming the involvement of Damascus in chemical attacks. In an open message to Barack Obama, former CIA officers blamed CIA director George Bennett for providing unreliable information to the U.S. authorities regarding the incident in Eastern Ghouta and for using it to prepare members of the U.S. Congress, the media and the public for an attack on Syria.

Finally, under the pressure of the world community, Washington had to join the Russian initiative to eliminate chemical warfare agenda in Syria. This operation was held under the supervision of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and was successfully completed in January 2015.

As in the case of Eastern Ghouta, Western media have given biased reporting of the incident in Khan Shaykhun, accusing the Syrian government of causing the death of civilians without seeing even preliminary results of an investigation. At the same time, as if not to burden its readers with unnecessary doubts about the official version of events, the Daily Mail removed from its website a 2013 article about the U.S. plans to stage false flag chemical attacks in Syria.

Against this background, Washington’s decision to fall back upon its original scenario for Eastern Ghouta raises many questions. First, it contradicts the promises made during Donald Trump’s election campaign, when he promised to stop military actions directed against Bashar Assad and to focus instead on fighting terrorism. Second, accusing Damascus of using chemical weapons contradicts the OPCW statement confirming the successful conclusion of its removal program, in which the U.S. also took part. Third, it is unclear what the White House wants to achieve by escalating conflict in Syria.

The chemical attack in Idlib appears to be another provocation by the U.S., an attempt to justify a military intervention in Syria. It seems also that the new American administration is paying for its approval ratings with the blood of innocent Syrians as it tries to strengthen its internal political position.

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