Warning: Pictures and videos contained in the links are graphic and disturbing. They may not be suitable for viewing by the squeamish, young children or in the workplace.
The United States and Great Britain moved closer to military intervention in the Syrian uprising after it was revealed that chemical agents were used in the suburbs of Damascus the killed at least 355 and injured thousands. The action is unlikely to gain the imprimatur of the UN or full NATO support, since, with the Syrian government and rebel groups blaming each other, there is no “smoking gun” on which side used the weapons.
Syria crisis: UK and US move closer to intervention
by Nicholas Watt, The Guardian
Foreign secretary says Britain and allies could intervene in Syria without the authority of United Nations
Britain and the US are inching towards a military attack against the regime of Bashar al-Assad after William Hague said all other options have failed over the past year.
As the Syrian president said the US would face failure if it intervened in his country, the UK foreign secretary said Britain and its allies could intervene without the authority of the UN. [..]
General Sir Nick Houghton, the chief of the defence staff, is to discuss military options with his US counterpart, General Martin Dempsey, and other allied military chiefs at a summit in the Jordanian capital of Amman.
Russia and China are likely to veto any UN security council resolution authorising military action, but Hague said such a move could be legal under international law even without UN approval.
Obama likely to resist Syria military intervention regardless of UN findings
by Paul Lewis, The Guardian
White House official says administration will struggle to prove Assad regime ordered chemical attack to a ‘legal standard’
A senior US administration official said over the weekend that there is “very little doubt” that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in an incident that killed at least a hundred people last week.
However Gary Samore, the White House’s co-ordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction until earlier this year, said that the administration will struggle to prove the Syrian government ordered the attack to a “legal standard”.
Both the US and the UK are determined to place the onus of the attack on the Assad government, however, there remains a lot of questions. In a post at Washintons Blog, numerous experts expressed their doubts
From an AFP article
“At the moment, I am not totally convinced because the people that are helping them are without any protective clothing and without any respirators,” said Paula Vanninen, director of Verifin, the Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
“In a real case, they would also be contaminated and would also be having symptoms.”
John Hart, head of the Chemical and Biological Security Project at Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said he had not seen the telltale evidence in the eyes of the victims that would be compelling evidence of chemical weapons use.
“Of the videos that I’ve seen for the last few hours, none of them show pinpoint pupils… this would indicate exposure to organophosphorus nerve agents,” he said.
Gwyn Winfield, editor of CBRNe World magazine, which specialises in chemical weapons issues, said the evidence did not suggest that the chemicals used were of the weapons-grade that the Syrian army possesses in its stockpiles.
“We’re not seeing reports that doctors and nurses… are becoming fatalities, so that would suggest that the toxicity of it isn’t what we would consider military sarin. It may well be that it is a lower-grade,” Winfield told AFP.
At the blog What Really Happened, Michael Rivero had some serious questions:
1. Why would Syria’s Assad invite United Nations chemical weapons inspectors to Syria, then launch a chemical weapons attack against women and children on the very day they arrive, just miles from where they are staying?
2. If Assad were going to use chemical weapons, wouldn’t he use them against the hired mercenary army trying to oust him? What does he gain attacking women and children? Nothing! The gain is all on the side of the US Government desperate to get the war agenda going again.
As I type these words, US trained and equipped forces are already across the border into Syria, and US naval forces are sailing into position to launch a massive cruise missile attack into Syria that will surely kill more Syrians than were claimed to have died in the chemical attack.
Another question that was posed by Ryan Dawson, ” Why would Assad need to use chemical weapons when he has all but defeated the hired mercenaries using conventional forces?”
After having come under sniper fire, UN inspectors gained access to one of the hospitals in the area where the attack occurred.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that he had instructed his top disarmament official, Angela Kane, who was visiting Damascus, to register a “strong complaint to the Syrian government and authorities of opposition forces” to ensure the safety of the inspectors after the assault. There was no indication that any member of the inspection team had been hurt.
Mr. Ban’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, told reporters at a regular daily briefing at United Nations headquarters in New York that the assailants, who had not been identified, fired on the first vehicle in the convoy, which was “hit in its tires and its front window, ultimately it was not able to travel further.”
Mr. Haq said the inspectors, who numbered about a dozen, resumed their trip to a suspected attack site in a Damascus suburb after the vehicle was replaced, visiting two hospitals and interviewing witnesses, survivors and doctors. “They took a number of relevant samples, they feel very satisfied with the results of their work,” Mr. Haq said. A second visit was planned for Tuesday.
The rush to intervene has been tempered with some push back from Congress. While Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have urged President Barack Obama to “become more engaged” in the region. However, both sides of the aisle are looking to force the president to seek congressional insight and approval before military action is taken. They do urge that non-military aid be continued. As reported in a Reuters/Ipsos poll, 60% of Americans are against intervention.
Intervention in the Middle East by western nations has not moved the region toward stability. If anything, it has made has destabilized the region and fueled terrorist attacks in those countries and around the world. If anything there is an urgent need for caution until it can be determined who used these weapons.