Syrian gas attack is a reminder of the weapons of mass destruction lie

Photo from Jaish al-Islam fighters


This contribution is a response by a group of individuals, to a flood of disinformation over the current events in Syria.

There is a real danger that history may repeat in Syria, after the allegation that the Syrian Bashara Assad led government has used chemical weapons against civilians, and the subsequent reaction of the United States, Great Britain and France.

What seems to be lost in all the hype, is that no evidence of the deed has been produced. There are supposed to be accounts of witnesses and photographs. But given a history of unreliable unnamed witnesses, and stage-managed photographs, this is not good enough.

If there is hard evidence, it must be put forward. Failure to do so, is an echo of the “weapons of mass destruction” claim, that led to the invasion of Iraq. It proved to be a lie, which resulted in widespread death and misery for millions,  and played a big part in creating the refugee crisis that continues today.

It should never happen again.

From time to time, allegations have been made against Assad, and like him or not, they have never been backed by proof. But this has not stopped using the allegations to step up air strikes by the three western powers and support for military action on the ground.

The accusation is so transparent that it has failed to get support for intervention in the United Nations. Both Russia and China have warned the western powers not to strike and called for a greater to find an end to the conflict through talks.

This is not to say that civilians have not suffered from poison gas. The question is where did it come from? According to the Syrian government, the fundamentalist and once Islamic State aligned group Jaish al-Islam, had been holed up in this part of Douma, which is near the Syrian Capital Damascus, had set up a facility to manufacture the gas.

The explanation is plausible, because Jaish al-Islam was being squeezed in an ever-diminishing encirclement by Syrian army, in a desperate situation, militarily defeated and looking for a way out. No one disputes this.  The Syrian government had nothing to gain from deliberately attacking the civilian population. They had already won the battle. One thing has been proved. The Syrian leadership is not stupid. If they were, they would not have lasted for so long.

Jaish al-Islam had something to gain by creating a diversion, or pressuring immediate military intervention from the West. But it remains that in the absence of specific evidence, the release of the gas could have been either deliberate or an accident.

Nevertheless, making the allegation that Assad ordered the gassing makes some sense, in the context of a proxy war against Russia, which is an ally of the Assad government. In this sense, it takes on the character of global geopolitics.  A recent meeting between the leaders of Syria, Iran and Turkey that discussed closer cooperation might have had an influence, as would the aggressive nature of president Donald Trump.

The reality for the United States especially, and United Kingdom and France to some degree, is that their influence in Syria and the region is diminishing, and they have a vested interest in doing whatever they can to maintain a foothold, even if it is on the back of another lie.

Photo by Hector Retamal/AFP: The United States fails to get support for its resolution at the United Nations Security Council

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