By Vojin Joksimovich, PhD
This is Part-II of my essay Obama’s War with Assad. Prime-time President Obama’s address to the American people contained frequent emotional references to the number of child victims of the chemical attack allegedly conducted on August 21 with the approval of the Syrian President Assad. Having comprehended that war-weary American people, including members of the US Congress, as well as the international community which did not support his threat of an “unbelievably small” military intervention, he switched gear to give diplomacy a chance for a negotiated solution. Russian president Vladimir Putin at the last minute became the face-saver of Obama’s credibility. He has also saved the US military from the embarrassment of serving as Saudi mercenaries. Putin proposed a UN Security Council resolution, which would demand from Assad to join the Chemical Weapons Convention and thus abandon chemical weapons and to turn them over for ultimate demolition. Syria asserts that their possession of chemical weapons is driven by Israeli WMDs including nuclear weapons. President Assad accepted Putin’s proposal. US and Russian Foreign ministers Kerry and Lavrov after three days of intense, tough, round the clock negotiations reached an agreement “baked from scratch.” The agreement is in the form of a framework including a timeline, which calls for Assad’s declaration of sites within one week.
Casus Belli Case Even Flimsier
President Obama’s casus belli case asserting that Assad was behind the August 21 chemical attack was based on the “trust me basis.” In London, secretary of state John Kerry invited the public to examine the administration case of the Obama government. He referred to the evidence, posted on the whitehouse.gov, consisting of 1,455 words full of blanket assertions such as “we assess with high confidence, “we have a body of information” and “we have identified one hundred videos.” The White House chief of Staff Dennis McDonough on CNN’s State of the Union Program asserted that it was “common sense” that the Syrian government carried out the chemical attack and provided no further evidence behind his assertion. Nobody pressed him on this point. As a matter of fact, hardly anybody has publicly pressed the administration neither in the US Congress nor in the mainstream media.
Blind trust in what appears to be the Markale Market Massacre in Damascus casus belli includes even several senators this writer respects such as Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), who said that President Obama didn’t convince him but that he did make a compelling case “if” President Assad was guilty. “If Assad is responsible he deserves death for this.” Moreover, the president is asking Americans to be on the same side as Al Qaeda. “Twelve years after we were attacked by Al Qaeda, 12 years after 3,000 Americans were killed by Al Qaeda. President Obama now asks to be allies with Al-Qaeda.” Presumably Senator Paul knows that Obama’s predecessors were also allies of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Libya? Presumably Senator Paul is aware of the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the Vietnam War, the Kuwaiti incubators in the Gulf war, the Markale Market massacres in Bosnia, Racak massacre in Kosovo, Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, the threats to Benghazi and the Libyan war?
Using the “common sense” approach, however, points out in the opposite direction as discussed partly in Part I of this essay. A well-documented case can be found in The International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) September 9 report titled Evidence of US and Saudi Engagement in Terrorist Initiation of Syrian Weapon Attack Now Gains Granularity and Specificity: Specific Involvement of Saudi Intelligence Chief Outlined. The report is authored by Yossef Bodansky, Senior Editor, GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs, who is well known to this writer as a highly credible author who does his research thoroughly based on numerous contacts in the Middle East. A day before the chemical attack, the jihadists’ Liberating the Capital Front, led by Jabhat al-Nusra suffered a major defeat in the Jobar entrance area during Operation Shield of the Capital, the largest operation of the Syrian Army since initiation of the conflict. “The jihadists also amassed a huge force of over 25,000 fighters for their Front from 13 armed kitaeb [battalion-groupings].” Bodansky has listed the names of these kitaeb units with the names of their commanders. Jobar entrance is the sole route for supplies and reinforcement coming from the Saudi-Jordanian-US intelligence base near Jordan’s major air force base. When the Front collapsed, the jihadist leaders decided that only a chemical strike could stop the Syrian army as well as provoke a US military strike.
Incidentally, the French intelligence asserts 281 fatalities, about 20% of the US assertion. Most Syrian opposition sources put the number in between 335 and 355, as does the French non-governmental organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders). This huge gap was never explained by the Obama administration. Regarding Obama’s assertion that 426 children were gassed, some observers pointed out those victims were almost of the same age and had no families to cry over them. It appears that sarin has killed children but spared women! Satellite channel images of victims allowed Alawite families near Latakia to recognize their children abducted two weeks prior by so called “rebels.”
In July Russia filed with the UN a 100-page report blaming “rebels” for the March 19 chemical attack in Khan al Asal near Aleppo in which 26 people died and 86 were sickened. A statement posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry website said the report included detailed scientific analyses of data collected at the site of attack by Russian technicians. The investigation was conducted under strict protocols established by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international agency that governs adherence to treaties prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. The statement said the Russian officials had broken the OPCW code of silence because of the US threat for military intervention in Syria. The makeup of sarin found at Khan al Asal was slow acting so-called “kitchen sarin” as opposed to so called industrial “military sarin” in possession by the Syrian military. The UN investigation of the Khan al Asal incident was sidetracked because of the August 21 East Ghouta incident. The Russian report seems to prove that “rebels” have been in possession of chemical agents as well. Any objective investigations of the August 21 incident must take into account the March 19 attack analyses.
According to some news media the UN report of the August 21 incident is due at the UN on September 16th. Some leaks suggest that the report will blame the Syrian government, which would be in contradiction of the statement made earlier by Carla Del Ponte, Commission member. Whatever the report says, the controversy is unlikely to be resolved soon. Racak massacre in Kosovo serves as a good precedent. It wasn’t fully resolved until the present Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci admitted publicly that his Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) staged the massacre with help from the American Ambassador.
Syria has been a battle ground for Saudi Arabia’s confrontation with Iran over regional dominance in the Gulf. Saudis have been pouring money into the Sunni Insurgence not only in Syria but in Iraq as well. It is a part of a larger strategy amounting to Sunni vs. Shia conflict, which has big geo-political implications. The conflict will likely spill over into Lebanon, which went through 15 years of a terrible civil war which led to the deaths of many in this country. The war might even spill over into Israel and Turkey if not checked.
Initially Assad was losing the war. However, his fortunes on the ground turned around with support from his own Alawite militia, Iran, Hezbollah and Russia. The opposition FSA is pretty fragmented with several groups involved including ones from Iraq with a different agenda. Lately, most of the fighting has been done by Al Qaeda affiliates, the main units belonging to the Jabhat al-Nusra and Liwaa al-Islam which have amassed a huge force.
The Saudis have decided that they may not prevail without the support of the US military. Hence, they focused on their specialty: check-book “diplomacy,” which has been extremely successful inside the Washington beltway for many years. The pressure has been put on the Obama administration, which has followed well established US interventionist methodology: 1. Frame the issue of “stopping” a former client (or friend) turned into a Hitler of the year (Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Qaddafi, and now Assad); 2. Provoke or invent a casus belli (red line massacres like Srebrenica in Bosnia or Racak in Kosovo, WMDs, impending humanitarian crisis, and now chemical weapons); 3. Bully or entice allies like NATO so that international community support can be claimed; 4. Violate international laws –the UN Security Council doesn’t count and the US constitution; 5. Make sure Muslim clients like Saudi Arabia comes out on top, never mind about the Christians, which are doomed to death or exile by this folly.
It was reported recently that Christians in Syria were fleeing Maaloula, one of the oldest Christian villages in the world where the language spoken by Christ is still in use. Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, with support from the FSA, has shelled the village and terrorized the convent of Christian nuns. The inhabitants are mostly Melkite Greek Catholic and Orthodox Christians, who have historically lived alongside a Sunni Muslim minority. Greek Orthodox and Armenians know what it is like to suffer under Islamic tyranny. The Hellenic American Leadership Council and the Armenian National Committee of America released action alerts urging their members to contact Congress opposing possible US intervention in Syria.
It should be noted that Secretary Kerry, Senator McCain and others claim that the FSA are “moderates.” Saudis support the moderates, that would be the day!! The State Department spokesperson was questioned on Maaloula. “I’d have to—I mean, we’re, of course, very concerned always about the actions of extremist elements, about violence that is undertaken at their hands. Beyond that, I’d have to check on anything more we have to add.” She then walked out saying that she has a meeting with the Secretary.
Another example of a Christian massacre, during which men, women and children were slaughtered and churches desecrated by McCain’s FSA “rebels” was reported on May 29 in the village of al-Duvair in the western Syrian province of Homs. The NY Times published the FSA brutalities.
President Putin, having learned what happened in Libya and having experienced his own battle with Chechen insurgents, came in at the last minute not only to save Obama’s credibility but also to save the US military from serving as Saudi mercenaries. In reaction to the statement made by Secretary Kerry that Saudis will pick the tab for the Tomahawk missiles, Pat Buchanan, who served three US presidents, decried the notion of Americans “hired out to do the big-time killing for Saudi and Sunni royals.” Has it come to this—US soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen as the mercenaries of sheikhs, sultans and emirs, Hessians of the New World Order?
Obama deserves credit for resisting intervention for over 30 months but cornered himself in with his rhetorical redlines. Hence, he embraced Putin’s offer to go jointly to the UN Security Council with the objective of arriving at a resolution which will compel Syria to join the international convention prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, while taking the threat of military intervention off the table. Putin’s offer has offered Obama, who is lost in the Mideast Bazaar according to Fouad Ajami, a way out of the crisis of his own making without starting the war to save his credibility.
Vojin Joksimovich is the author of three books and 110 articles on foreign affairs.
The Revenge of the Prophet by Dr. Vojin Joksimovich is another classic book which gives great insight and knowledge about the Balkans, radical Islam, US foreign policy and other important areas.
Dr. Vojin Joksimovich wrote an in depth book called Kosovo is Serbia and please check this at http://www.gmbooks.com/product/Kosovo-GM.html – it is a must read if you want deep knowledge about this complex topic.
Please check and buy these books if you care deeply about the Balkans and the plight of Serbs in Bosnia, Kosovo and throughout the former Yugoslavia.
http://moderntokyotimes.com/2013/09/05/obamas-war-with-assad-flimsy-evidence-kosovo-model-and-saudi-involvement/ (PART ONE) by Dr. Vojin Joksimovich