Saturday, April 20, 2013

US Intelligence Community: 'French & British allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria are just that ... allegations!'

'..... Washington’s focus now turns to the Middle East where Secretary of Defense Hagel will visit Israel and four Arab countries next week. Major arms deals are in prospect. These will leave Israel’s “qualitative military edge” in place, but will add significantly to UAE and Saudi airpower. US officials are at pains to emphasize that the deliveries to Israel – even though in-flight refueling tankers are included – are not intended to strengthen Israeli capabilities to strike Iran unilaterally.  Despite some recent hawkish comments from the Israeli leadership, officials in Washington see little need for immediate worry about Israeli actions. With regard to Syria, the incremental trend which we have described earlier to edge close to some form of military support for the Syrian opposition – with whom Kerry is meeting in Istanbul – continues in the form of a small Army detachment to Jordan. However, a mood of caution and skepticism continues to be predominant in Washington, with Intelligence Community officials less ready to accept British and French allegations of the use of chemical weapons by the regime. Finally, the events in Boston have rekindled the domestic debate about global terrorism. Although evidence linking the outrage with any organized terrorist organization remains entirely speculative, there is already political talk that the US has let down its guard as the memories of 9/11 fade. One impact will be on the immigration reform initiative launched in the Senate this week. Although bipartisan in nature, this legislation now faces a harsher political environment.'            

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