- United Nations 09/21/2013 by Trish Schuh
UNITED NATIONS Syria successfully met the first deadline of the Chemical Weapons Convention today by detailing its arsenal to the UN-backed Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Under duress of air strikes by member states, France and the US, over unproven charges it fired sarin gas against civilians, Syria has agreed to open chemical stockpiles to international inspectors by November, with a mid-2014 target date for final weapons eradication.
France, UK and US will continue to push for a Chapter Vll resolution at the UN General Assembly next week, which would allow military force if Syria is noncompliant to the OPCW treaty. US President Barack Obama has announced the right to attack Syria with or without a UN mandate if he so chooses, and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reiterated Friday that all "military options against Syria are still on the table."
Presumed justification for such actions was heightened by the September 16 release of a UN investigation report deemed by UNSG Ban Ki-moon as "overwhelming" proof of Syria's "crimes against humanity" and culpability. At noon briefings, UNSG spokesman Martin Nesirky also repeatedly called the UN team's outcome "overwhelming" and "indisputable."
Using implication, disclaimers and omissions, the UN report's fine print reveals crucial discrepancies.
Chief among the disclaimers were the "limitations" mentioned in Appendix 5, of crime scene contamination: "The sites have been well travelled both before and during the investigation. Fragments and other possible evidence have clearly been handled/removed prior to the arrival of the investigation team." It also states: "During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated."
Of equal concern, was the UN's omission of its own earlier results. Echoing the Hariri investigation used to target Assad in 2005, evidence contrary to a 'guilty' verdict against Syria has been ignored. After a March 2013 sarin incident in Khan Al Assal, the UN's Carla del Ponte commission found that Western-backed jihadis were behind the detonation of the chemical substances- not the Assad government. Her findings were discredited and then unobtrusively 'disappeared'. The UNSC took no further action and Syria did not threaten air strikes against the Coalition of the Willing.
With UN inspectors on the ground in Syria, this reporter asked the UNSG spokesmen if the UN team would question rebels who confessed and bragged about setting off the chemical attacks in Ghouta to journalists inside Syria? Would the UN interview the families of the gassed children featured so widely in western media? This reporter explained that pro-Assad Alawite families had begun identifying their missing children from the TV coverage, saying many of them had been kidnapped from the Latakia coastal area around August 11 by rebel groups. This reporter also asked UN spokesmen about Turkey's arrest of insurgents with sarin in their homes last May?
"We will have to wait for the report" they said.
But the UN report says nothing about these testimonies.
In tandem, US Ambassador to the US, Samantha Power, seized on the outcome's grey areas to circumstantiate Assad. "Now it is very important to note that the regime possesses sarin, and we have no evidence that the opposition possesses sarin". Military and intelligence experts have assessed since 2012 that Al Qaeda has WMDs- including sarin. Numerous rebel youtube videos have also portayed it, including experiments using rabbits.
At the UNSC stakeout Ambassador Power, while speaking of the Ghouta sarin gassing, unwittingly implicated America by referencing "the largest gas attack since Halabja" Iraq under Saddam Hussein. She stated that the WMDs used in Damascus were of a higher quality than Iraq's, so they had to come from Syria -which implies that a third world country has WMD manufacturing capability superior to the top western laboratories in the world. This reporter inquired of Ambassador Power: "Who supplied Saddam?" No answer.
Have rebel mercenaries in Turkey and Syria, been supplied with chemical weapons by the West (through a Saudi conduit as some sources allege)? Or even America itself? In the 1980's, the US Dept of Commerce approved the sale of WMDs to Iraq by the American Type Culture Collection in Rockville, MD. Activists and proliferation experts at the time claimed some of these toxins found their way into use against the Kurds- as well as against Iranians in the Iran-Iraq War.
At the UN, Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jafa'ari told this reporter it is a scenario they hope to prevent. For over a decade, Syria has publically advocated for a Nuclear-Free/WMD-Free Middle East, stating that its weapons were a deterrant against Israel's nuclear capability. In other moves toward rapprochement, Syria's Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil called for a general ceasefire and for the postponed Geneva ll peace conference to take place.
But western-backed Al Qaeda mercenaries have rejected both the UN-US-Russian chemical weapons deal for Syria and the Geneva conference. Al Qaeda commander Qassim Sa'ad Ed Dine said: "Let the Kerry-Lavrov plan go to hell. We will not protect the inspectors or let them enter Syria."
If the rebels lash out at UN inspectors, will that too be blamed on Syria in the UN Security Council?