Moon of Alabama — April 12, 2017
The Trump White House published three and a half pages of accusations against the governments of Syria and Russia. These are simple white pages with no header or footer, no date, no classification or declassification marks, no issuing agency and no signatures. It is indiscernible who has written them.
U.S. media call this a Declassified U.S. Report on Chemical Weapons Attack. It is no such thing.
It starts with “The United States is confident that the Syrian government conducted a chemical weapon attack, …”
The U.S. “is confident”, it does not “know”, it does not have “proof” – it is just “confident”.
The whole paper contains only seven paragraphs that are allegedly a “Summary of the U.S. intelligence community assessment” on the issue. The seven paragraphs are followed by eight(!) paragraphs that try to refute the Russian and Syrian statements on the issue. Some political fluff makes up the sorry rest.
That “intelligence community assessment” chapter title is likely already a false claim. Even a fast tracked, preliminary National Intelligence Assessment, for which all seventeen U.S. intelligence agencies must be heard, takes at least two to three weeks to create. A “long track” full assessment takes two month or more. These are official documents issued by the Director of National Intelligence. The summary assessment the White House releases has no such heritage. It is likely a well massaged fast write up of some flunky in the National Security Council.
The claimed assessment starts with a definitely false claim: “We assess that Damascus launched this chemical attack in response to an opposition offensive in Hama province that threatened key infrastructure.”
The Hama offensive had failed two weeks ago. Since then the Syrian army has regained all areas the al-Qaeda “opposition” had captured during the first few days. Key infrastructure had never been seriously threatened by it. Over 2,000 al-Qaeda fighters were killed in the endeavor.
Peto Lucem, a well known and reliable source for accurate maps of the war on Syria, posted on March 31, four days before the chemical incident:
Peto Lucem @PetoLucem
NEW MAP: “Rebel” frontline in #Hama is collapsing, #SAA reverses most #AlQaeda gains made in first days of their failed offensive. #Syria
The attack in Hama had already failed days before the chemical incident in Khan Shaykhun happened. Khan Shaykhun is far from the front line. The incident and the failed al-Qaeda attack in Hama can not possibly be related. It would make no sense at all to launch a militarily useless incident in a place far away “in response” to a defeat of the enemy elsewhere. (The Defense Intelligence Agency likely never signed off on such an objectively false claim.)
The following paragraphs of the released paper reveal that the assessment is largely based on a “significant body” of “open source reporting” which “indicates” something. This means that the White House relied on pictures and videos posted by people who are allowed to operate freely in the al-Qaeda ruled Khan Shaykhun. (The town had been in the hands of an Islamic State associated group Liwa Al-Aqsa until mid February. The group moved out after fighting al-Qaeda and killing some 150 of its fighters.)
Several of the released video were introduced and commented by “Dr. Shajul Islam” who has been removed from the British medical registry and had been indicted in the UK for his role in kidnapping “western” journalists in Syria. He fled back to Syria. The videos he distribute of “rescue” of casualties of the chemical incidents were not of real emergencies but staged. One of the journalists kidnapped with the help of Dr. Shajul Islam, James Foley, was later murdered on camera by the Islamic State.
Other videos and photos are by the White Helmets “rescuers”, a U.S./UK financed propaganda prop, which is so neutral that it works with ISIS (vid) and al-Qaeda but not in government held areas where the actual Syrian population lives.
The Hama offensive by the “opposition” was personally planned and directed by the head of al-Qaeda in Syria al-Joliani. Photos of the planing sessions were published by “opposition” agencies and widely distributed.
How can there be an “intelligence assessment” (and reporting about it) that does not note that the incident in question took place in an area where AL-QAEDA rules and that the allegedly related (but defeated) offensive was launched by AL-QAEDA. Is AL-QAEDA now officially the “Syrian opposition” the U.S. supports? The neocon former General Petraeus lobbied for a U.S. alliance with al-Qaeda since 2015. The new National Security Advisor to Trump, General McMaster, is a Petraeus protege. He, together with Petraeus, screwed up Iraq. Is the Petraeus alliance now in place=
The next step then will be for the U.S. to ally with the Islamic State. The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is already arguing for that:
We could simply back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Assad. After all, they’re the ones overextended in Syria, not us. Make them fight a two-front war — the moderate rebels on one side and ISIS on the other. If we defeat territorial ISIS in Syria now, we will only reduce the pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah and enable them to devote all their resources to crushing the last moderate rebels in Idlib, not sharing power with them.
The U.S., Friedman says, should let ISIS run free so it can help al-Qaeda which is ruling in Idleb governate. Friedman talks of “moderate rebels in Idleb” but these are unicorns. They do not exist. There is al-Qaeda and there is Ahrar al Sham which compares itself with the Taliban. All other opposition fighters in Idleb have joined these two or are now dead.
But why not use these gangs of sectarian mass murderers against the Syrian government and others? Hey, Israel wants us to do just that. And why don’t we hand out anti-air missiles to them, Friedman asks, and lend them air-support at the same time. Surely the combination will do well.
In Syria, Trump should let ISIS be Assad’s, Iran’s, Hezbollah’s and Russia’s headache — the same way we encouraged the mujahedeen fighters to bleed Russia in Afghanistan.
Well, maybe because, you know, that mujahedeen thing worked out so well that nearly forty years later the U.S. is mulling again to send additional troops to Afghanistan to defeat them.
Lunacy has truly taken over the White House but even more so the U.S. media. How can sanity be brought back to town?