By Stephen Gowans
Will the United States, or its proxies, directly intervene militarily on the side of Syrian rebels? If they do they will invent a pretext, and it may be this: Syrian leader Bashar Assad, desperate to cling to power, is poised to use chemical weapons against civilians. An intervention is necessary to prevent a massacre.
Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said: “We are concerned that an increasingly beleaguered regime, having found its escalation of violence through conventional means inadequate, might be considering the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people.” (my emphasis) (1)
The Syrian Foreign Ministry denies the allegation, ruling out the use of chemical weapons against Syrians “under any circumstances.” (2)
All the same, Washington points to “transfers” of chemical weapons stocks that suggest “the Syrian leader could be planning to use the gas against civilians.” (my emphasis) (3)
It might be that the Syrian military is moving its supplies beyond the rebels’ reach. It could be that the Syrians are transferring the weapons to prevent them from falling into the hands of Jordanian special-forces. Under the direction of a US military task force, the Jordanians have been putting together a plan to make a dash across the border to seize Syria’s chemical weapons. (4) Or it’s possible that the transfers haven’t happened, and like Iraq’s mythical WMDs, this is another example of a falsehood intended to conjure up an imperative for war.
Washington says that the Pentagon is opposed to a direct US military intervention. But it has proxies in place which it can press into war on its behalf and “lead from behind.” These include the already mentioned Jordanians, along with Israel–recipient of billions of dollars annually in US military transfers—which says “it might be forced to take military action to prevent the use or spread of weapons of mass destruction in Syria.” (5)
At the same time, NATO has approved the deployment of Patriot missiles to Turkey. While the military organization says the missiles will defend against Syria launching a ballistic missile attack, possibly tipped with chemical weapons, NATO could use the missiles to establish a no-fly zone over northern Syria. This would give Syrian rebels a larger territory from which to attack the Assad government. (6)
It’s unclear whether Washington will go any further in its attempt to engineer concern over a possible looming massacre of civilians, and whether Patriot missiles will enforce a no-fly zone.
Still, it’s a simple matter for Washington to invent impending massacres as excuses to use military force to topple governments it doesn’t like. It did so in Libya, invented a genocide in Kosovo that never happened, and fabricated a story about Saddam Hussein hiding WMDs.
The possibility that the United States has begun to create another fiction, this time centered on the Assad government’s possible use of chemical weapons against civilians, cannot be discounted, and we should be alert to the possibility that the Obama regime is heading down this road.
1. Jay Solomon and Julian E. Barnes, “U.S. warns Syria on chemical arms”, The Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2012
2. Anne Barnard and Ellen Barry, “Assad suffering reversals in fighting and diplomacy”, The New York Times, December 3, 2012
3. Solomon and Barnes, December 3, 2012
4. Solomon and Barnes, December 3, 2012s; Jay Solomon and Julian E. Barnes, “U.S., Jordan discuss securing Syria cache”, The Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2012
5. Solomon and Barnes, December 3, 2012
6. Anne Gearan in The Washington Post of December 4, 2012 (Nato says anti-missile defense for Turkey does not open door to Syrian intervention) writes that while NATO denies the Patriot missiles will be used to establish a no-fly zone, they “could be repurposed as part of a wider campaign or provide air cover for action in Syria should NATO change its mind.”