Will Syria be a new Iraq, and will Hillary Clinton be a new Colin Powell?
It all started with the outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton who, on her visit to Prague, said on Monday, "This is a red line for the United States. I'm not going to telegraph in any specifics what we would do in the event of credible evidence that the Assad regime has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people. But suffice to say we are certainly planning to take action."
President Obama followed suit telling the Syrian government that “there will be consequences, and you will be held accountable”.
"Syria’s Foreign Ministry said in an official statement that "Syria has stressed repeatedly that it will not use these types of weapons, if they were available, under any circumstances against its people."
Still, the information cover-up is going on in full swing. Reports supplied by US intelligence agencies concerning the alleged Syrian stockpiles of chemical weapons are appearing in various Western media. According to such reports, Syria possesses up to 1,000 tons of chemical weapons stored in 50 towns and cities. The weapons include mustard gas and sarin, and the CIA also believes (or, rather, tries to make others believe) that Syria has attempted to develop more toxic and more persistent nerve agents, such as VX gas. The weapons, according the CIA, "can be delivered by aircraft, ballistic missile, and artillery rockets."
For anyone with a memory as short-lived as not to remember the events of 9 years ago, the reports sound alarming if not catastrophic. Indeed, all this is happening against a background of heavy military preparations along Syrian borders with Turkey requesting NATO allies to supply Patriot missile defenses.
But when and if we remember the events of 2003, we cannot but feel a kind of déjà vu.
In 2003, there was a similar propagandist campaign concerning Iraqi alleged program aimed at acquiring weapons of mass destruction. The then Secretary of State Colin Powell publicly demonstrated photos supplied by the intelligence and meant to demonstrate that Saddam Hussein was possessing such weapons and ready to use them.
The photos served as a pretext for launching an open military aggression against Iraq which eventually led to toppling and murdering Saddam Hussein. After Americans took control of the country it turned out that the whole story was cock-eyed and there were no such weapons in Iraq. But who would care – by that time the aims of the operations had been successfully achieved and there was no comeback.
It seems that this time the US is going to use the old well-tested trick. First, the massive media campaign aimed at persuading the international public that the biggest threat for the world is coming from Bashar al-Assad. Then comes some kind of provocation – like using a device that may look (and smell) like a chemical weapon and blaming the Syrian regime for it. This will open gates for an open military intervention that will lead to toppling Bashar al-Assad.
After all, maybe no weapons of mass destruction will be found in Syria. But who would care – by that time the aims of the operation will have been successfully achieved.
"We simply cannot allow the 21st century to be darkened by the worse weapons of the 20th century," said US President Barack Obama. Indeed, this phrase reveals the real intentions of the US administration. Being technologically the most advanced global power, the US would prefer to remain the only power capable of using the "best" weapons of the 21st century, depriving all others of the right and capacity to retaliate.
Boris Volkhonsky, senior research fellow, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies
Washington and its allies have warned of a possible military operation to secure Syria’s chemical and biological stockpiles.
“We are certainly planning to take action if [chemical weapon use] were to occur,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Prague.
The White House has reportedly been mulling a wide range of measures from air strikes to targeted operations.
US President Barack Obama previously cautioned the Syrian government against the use of chemical weapons in its struggle against the opposition.
US President Barack Obama has warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad he will face "consequences" if he uses chemical weapons against his people. This comes amid a fresh wave of US intelligence reports suggesting that Syria is preparing its chemical weapons for deployment.
"The world is watching. The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable," said Mr Obama.
He added that he wants to make it absolutely clear to “Assad and those under his command” that if they “make the tragic mistake of using these weapons”there will be consequences.
Earlier this day, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a similar “strong warning” to the Syrian government reiterating the president’s declaration that the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people will be “a red line for the United States.”
In response to the threats, the Syrian Foreign Ministry has issued a brief statement saying that Damascus will not use chemical weapons, “if they were available, under any circumstances against its people.” The ministry also stressed that Syria has stated repeatedly that it “will not use these types of weapons.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday warned the regime of Bashar al-Assad against any bid to unleash chemical weapons on the Syrian people, signalling that the United States would be prepared to take unspecified action.
"This is a red line for the United States," Clinton said after meeting Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, during which they talked about concerns over Syria's chemical weapons stockpile.
"Once again we issue a very strong warning to the Assad regime that their behaviour is reprehensible. Their actions against their own people have been tragic," she told a joint news conference with her Czech counterpart.
"I'm not going to telegraph in any specifics what we would do in the event of credible evidence that the Assad regime has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people, but suffice it to say that we're certainly planning to take action if that eventuality were to occur," the top US diplomat stressed.
Clinton's remarks came as The New York Times reported Monday that the Americans and Europeans had sent warnings via intermediaries to the Syrian regime after detecting movement of chemical weapons by the Syrian military in recent days.
A U.S. defense official says international intelligence sources have detected that Syria has been moving chemical weapons components in recent days.
The official says U.S. and allied intelligence officials have detected activity around more than one of Syria's chemical weapons sites in the last week. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about intelligence matters.
He says officials don't believe any developments with the weapons are imminent but are trying to figure out what the Syrians are doing.
Syria would not use chemical weapons, if it had them, against its own people, the foreign ministry said in a statement on state television on Monday.
"In response to the statements of the American secretary of state, who warned Syria against using chemical weapons, Syria has stressed repeatedly that it will not use these types of weapons, if they were available, under any circumstances against its people," the statement said.
Voice of Russia, Interfax, BBC, AFP, RT, AP, Reuters