[Harper for SST] For the past week, the Obama Administration, joined by the entire neocon and Israeli Lobby apparatus has been engaged in an information warfare campaign to pave the way for the final overthrow of the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria. The centerpiece of the campaign is the claim that Syrian military units are prepared to launch chemical weapons attacks against their own population, and possibly against Turkey, a NATO country. The North Atlantic Council, the policy-making body of NATO, has approved the rush deployment of Patriot missile batteries to southern Turkey to protect against the so-called Syrian chemical weapons attacks. Such outright propaganda outfits as Israel’s DEBKA, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), and Atlantic magazine’s resident IDF voice, Jeffrey Goldberg, are all putting out claims that the Syrian Air Force has already assembled sarin gas weapons and armed fighter planes to launch attacks at any moment.
Both the German BND and the Russian government have issued strong statements in the past 24 hours, indicating that they have carefully looked into the chemical weapons claims and find absolutely no evidence to confirm them.
The propaganda campaign is a carbon copy of the now totally discredited “weapons of mass destruction” claims that were used in 2002-2003 to justify the U.S. led invasion of Iraq to overthrow the Saddam Hussein government. In the words of the immortal American philosopher and linguist Yogi Berra, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
Not only is the U.S. and NATO showing reckless disregard for the consequences of that Iraq fiasco. There is an even more stubborn refusal to learn some of the most painful lessons of the more recent regime change adventure in Libya. The overthrow and execution of Qaddafi has turned Libya into a hotbed of al-Qaeda insurgency. This was most evident in the Sept. 11, 2012 killings of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three American intelligence officers by the al-Qaeda affiliate, Ansar al-Sharia. In the case of Syria, it is now an open secret that the most effective anti-Assad regime fighters are also al-Qaeda affiliates, from an alphabet soup of neo-Salafi groups, getting their weapons and funds from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. The Syrian group al-Nusra has been identified in several recent indepth news account by the McClatchey News Service and the Daily Telegraph as the most effective fighting force, training cells of suicide bombers and fielding battalion-strength military units. They are in the forefront of every military victory by the opposition. So, what will be the consequences of the overthrow of the Assad government? National Public Radio this morning interviewed several American counter-terrorism “experts,” including Bruce Hoffman, who candidly admitted that al-Qaeda is on the rise and that the new hub of global al-Qaeda jihad is Syria. They neglected to mention that, as was the earlier case in Afghanistan, these al-Qaeda jihadis are being touted as the “rebels” and “freedom-fighters” who are on the verge of liberating Syria from the clutches of Assad.
I have no doubt that this Syria fiasco is headed towards a rapid conclusion. The depth of wartime propaganda centered on the chemical weapons scare indicates that the Western powers are committed to bringing down the Assad government as rapidly as possible. The North Atlantic Council, the governing body of NATO, has agreed to send Patriot missile batteries to southern Turkey to “defend” against an alleged looming Syrian chemical weapons assault. In reality, the Patriot deployment is a step towards the creation of a no-fly zone in northern Syria. DEBKA today is reporting that the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower is now parked in the eastern Mediterranean, with thousands of American troops prepared to intervene to capture the chemical weapons.
This is all going to end very badly. Harper