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Syrians, Saudis and Sarin.... Seriously? | davelovell.net
Sep 042013

Ok, so I’ve been get­ting a few requests from friends, read­ers and assorted other mem­bers of the dorkosh­pere to try and give some clar­ity to the whole Syria thingy. Back in the Dark Ages when the Navy used to cruise my friends and I around the Med, we slipped in and out of all the Mid-East party spots; Algiers, Libya, the Mog and many other secretie type locations…shhhh! Only one of those places scared the poop outta me then, and con­tin­ues to do so now; Syria. I’d rather walk down Gaza draped in noth­ing but a US flag and spin­ning a drei­del than to ever feel Syr­ian sand under my feet again.  An old com­pany spook that I knew back in the day used to say that Syria was the Cuba of the middle-east – and no one wants to fck with Cuba.

But some­one wants to get the US into a war with Syria.

Try­ing to fig­ure out who and why is a Sisyphean task – the sheer ton­nage of media-agenda bias and gov­ern­men­tal dis­in­for­ma­tion makes me all sad and stuff.  When I get sad I am reminded of the Jesuits, and they remind me of logic and latin!  When the Jesuits taught me logic, they taught me that when attempt­ing to find cau­sa­tion, one must search for ben­e­fit. Cui Bono – “to whose ben­e­fit” was the phrase, and I think it will help us here.

So who would ben­e­fit from an open con­flict between the US and Syria? Lets start with elim­i­na­tion — it will not be good for the United States, it will not be good for Israel, it will not be good for Syria, it will not be good for Iran and it will not be good for Hezbol­lah.  From where I sit, only the Saudi’s can ben­e­fit from this sce­nario, plus they would get the bonus of not actu­ally hav­ing to participate.

Bil­lions of Saudi dol­lars have been pour­ing into the con­flict in Syria, but so far they have not been suc­cess­ful in their attempts to over­throw the Assad regime.  Now the Saudis are try­ing to play their trump card — the U.S. mil­i­tary.  If the Saudis are suc­cess­ful, they will get to pit the two great­est long-term strate­gic ene­mies of Sunni Islam against each other — the U.S. and Israel on one side and Shia Islam on the other.  In such a sce­nario, the more dam­age that both sides do to each other the hap­pier the Sun­nis will be.

There would be oth­ers ben­e­fit­ing from a U.S. war with Syria as well.  For exam­ple, it is well-known that Qatar wants to run a nat­ural gas pipeline out of the Per­sian Gulf, through Syria and into Europe.  And so Qatar has also been pour­ing bil­lions of dol­lars into the civil war in Syria.

So if it is really Saudi Ara­bia and Qatar that want to over­throw the Assad regime, why does the United States have to do the heavy lifting?

Pres­i­dent Obama is promis­ing that the upcom­ing attack will only be a “lim­ited mil­i­tary strike” and that we will not be get­ting into a full-blown war with Syria. (Regard­less of the deal he will have to make with the neo-con tea-drinkers in the House).

The only way that will work is if Syria, Hezbol­lah and Iran all sit on their hands and do noth­ing to respond to the upcom­ing U.S. attack.  So I guess we can just assume the usual well-reasoned and ratio­nal response from them… uhuh.  Let’s just say that I hope the MARSOC guys with the laser-targeting gear about to slip through the Syr­ian surf have got one hell of an evac plan.

What if there is a response, and a U.S. naval ves­sel gets hit, or pilots are cap­tured, or rock­ets start rain­ing down on Tel Aviv — the U.S. could eas­ily find itself engaged in a full-blown war with no clear idea as to what con­sti­tutes victory.

The vast major­ity of Amer­i­cans do not want to get embroiled in another war in the Mid­dle East, and a num­ber of top mil­i­tary offi­cials are express­ing “seri­ous reser­va­tions” about attack­ing Syria accord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post

For the United States, there really is no good out­come in Syria.

If we attack and Assad stays in power, we appear enfee­bled. If we help over­throw the Assad regime, the rebels take con­trol.  But they could be even worse than Assad.  Most rebel groups have pledged loy­alty to al-Qaeda, and are rabidly anti-American, anti-Israeli and anti-western.

This war would not be good for Israel either.  I have seen a num­ber of sup­pos­edly pro-Israel web­sites out there get­ting very excited about the prospect of war with Syria, but I think they are short­sighted if not trag­i­cally mistaken.

Syria has already threat­ened to attack Israeli cities if the U.S. attacks.  If Syr­ian mis­siles start land­ing in the heart of Tel Aviv, Israel will respond. And if any of those mis­siles have uncon­ven­tional war­heads, Israel will respond by absolutely destroy­ing Damascus.

And of course a mis­sile exchange between Syria and Israel will almost cer­tainly draw Hezbol­lah into the con­flict.  And right now Hezbol­lah has 70,000 rock­ets aimed at Israel. If Hezbol­lah starts launch­ing those rock­ets, thou­sands upon thou­sands of inno­cent Jew­ish cit­i­zens will be killed.

This is not the cal­cu­lated Mutu­ally Assured Destruc­tion of the Cold War, where the over­whelm­ing force of the other kept your fin­ger off the trig­ger.  The play­ers in that part of the world have left ratio­nal notions of pro­por­tion­al­ity behind and instead focus on ideas based on thoughts apocalyptic.

If the Saudis want this war so badly, they should saddle-up.  They should not be able to start a full-blown regional con­flict with their check­book.  At this point, even CNN is openly admit­ting this

At this point I want to be very clear that no one who knows the middle-east will ever claim to know exactly who is doing what to whom and why – and try­ing to fig­ure things out with only the inter­net and the media leaves one at the mercy of mul­ti­ple agen­das. So, again, I return to look­ing at what could hap­pen, and who would benefit.

It is an open secret that the Saudis have been using Jor­dan to smug­gle weapons into Syria for the rebels. Jor­dan says it is doing all it can to pre­vent that and does not want to inflame the sit­u­a­tion – and why would they lie? And Assad cer­tainly knows who is behind the civil war in his coun­try.  The fol­low­ing is an excerpt from a recent inter­view with Assad

Of course it is well known that coun­tries, such as Saudi Ara­bia, who hold the purse strings can shape and manip­u­late them to suit their own interests.

 Ide­o­log­i­cally, these coun­tries mobi­lize them through direct or indi­rect means as extrem­ist tools. If they declare that Mus­lims must pur­sue Jihad in Syria, thou­sands of fight­ers will respond.

 Finan­cially, those who finance and arm such groups can instruct them to carry out acts of ter­ror­ism and spread anar­chy. The influ­ence over them is syn­er­gized when a coun­try such as Saudi Ara­bia directs them through both the Wah­habi ide­ol­ogy and their finan­cial means.

 And shortly after the British Par­lia­ment voted against mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion in Syria, Saudi Ara­bia raised their level of “defense readi­ness” from “five” to “two” in a clear sign that they fully expect a war to hap­pen

Saudi Ara­bia, a sup­porter of rebels fight­ing to top­ple Pres­i­dent Bashar al-Assad, has raised its level of mil­i­tary alert­ness in antic­i­pa­tion of a pos­si­ble West­ern strike in Syria, sources famil­iar with the mat­ter said on Friday.

 The United States has been call­ing for puni­tive action against Assad’s gov­ern­ment for a sus­pected poi­son gas attack on a Dam­as­cus sub­urb on August 21 that killed hun­dreds of people.

 Saudi Arabia’s defense readi­ness has been raised to “two” from “five”, a Saudi mil­i­tary source who declined to be named told Reuters. “One” is the high­est level of alert.

 All that aside – it’s about chem­i­cal weapons, right? I have a hard time oppos­ing the Pres­i­dent when he says that we have a moral oblig­a­tion to stop a gov­ern­ment that would gas its own peo­ple.  But this is the middle-east… how sure can we be that Assad pulled the trig­ger on the gas – what if he didn’t?

Remind­ing you of my ear­lier warn­ings about get­ting any valid/accurate infor­ma­tion about these events, there have been reports from some­time Asso­ci­ated Press cor­re­spon­dent Dale Gavlak, that the gas came from the Saudis

Syr­ian rebels in the Dam­as­cus sub­urb of Ghouta have admit­ted to Asso­ci­ated Press cor­re­spon­dent Dale Gavlak that they were respon­si­ble for last week’s chem­i­cal weapons inci­dent which west­ern pow­ers have blamed on Bashar Al-Assad’s forces, reveal­ing that the casu­al­ties were the result of an acci­dent caused by rebels mis­han­dling chem­i­cal weapons pro­vided to them by Saudi Arabia.

 “From numer­ous inter­views with doc­tors, Ghouta res­i­dents, rebel fight­ers and their families….many believe that cer­tain rebels received chem­i­cal weapons via the Saudi intel­li­gence chief, Prince Ban­dar bin Sul­tan, and were respon­si­ble for car­ry­ing out the (deadly) gas attack,” writes Gavlak.

 And this is some­one that isn’t fresh out of jour­nal­ism school.  He has been a Mid­dle East cor­re­spon­dent for the Asso­ci­ated Press for two decades and has also worked for National Pub­lic Radio (NPR) and writ­ten arti­cles for BBC News.”

The Voice of Rus­sia (yikes) has also been report­ing on Gavlak’s bomb­shell findings…

The rebels noted it was a result of an acci­dent caused by rebels mis­han­dling chem­i­cal weapons pro­vided to them.

 “My son came to me two weeks ago ask­ing what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fight­ing to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.

 As Gavlak reports, Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels died in a weapons stor­age tun­nel. The father stated the weapons were pro­vided to rebel forces by a Saudi mil­i­tant, known as Abu Ayesha, describ­ing them as hav­ing a “tube-like struc­ture” while oth­ers were like a “huge gas bottle.”

 “They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” com­plained a female fighter named ‘K’. “We didn’t know they were chem­i­cal weapons. We never imag­ined they were chem­i­cal weapons.”

 “When Saudi Prince Ban­dar gives such weapons to peo­ple, he must give them to those who know how to han­dle and use them,” she warned. She, like other Syr­i­ans, do not want to use their full names for fear of retribution.

 Gavlak also refers to an arti­cle in the UK’s Daily Tele­graph about secret Russian-Saudi talks stat­ing that Prince Ban­dar threat­ened Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin with ter­ror attacks at next year’s Win­ter Olympics in Sochi if Rus­sia doesn’t agree to change its stance on Syria.

 “Prince Ban­dar pledged to safe­guard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is top­pled, but he also hinted at Chechen ter­ror­ist attacks on Russia’s Win­ter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord,” the arti­cle stated.

 “I can give you a guar­an­tee to pro­tect the Win­ter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the secu­rity of the games are con­trolled by us,” Saudi Prince allegedly told Vladimir Putin.

 If this has any merit at all then the Saudis were so des­per­ate to get the Rus­sians to stand down and allow an attack on Syria that they actu­ally threat­ened them.  Zero Hedge (not the most rep­utable of sources…) pub­lished some addi­tional details on the meet­ing between Saudi intel­li­gence chief Prince Ban­dar bin Sul­tan and Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin…

Ban­dar told Putin, “There are many com­mon val­ues and goals that bring us together, most notably the fight against ter­ror­ism and extrem­ism all over the world. Rus­sia, the US, the EU and the Saudis agree on pro­mot­ing and con­sol­i­dat­ing inter­na­tional peace and secu­rity. The ter­ror­ist threat is grow­ing in light of the phe­nom­ena spawned by the Arab Spring. We have lost some regimes. And what we got in return were ter­ror­ist expe­ri­ences, as evi­denced by the expe­ri­ence of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood in Egypt and the extrem­ist groups in Libya. … As an exam­ple, I can give you a guar­an­tee to pro­tect the Win­ter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the secu­rity of the games are con­trolled by us, and they will not move in the Syr­ian territory’s direc­tion with­out coor­di­nat­ing with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syr­ian regime but they will have no role or influ­ence in Syria’s polit­i­cal future.”

 It is good of the Saudis to admit they con­trol a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion that “threat­ens the secu­rity” of the Sochi 2014 Olympic games, and that house of Saud uses “in the face of the Syr­ian regime.” Per­haps the next time there is a bomb­ing in Boston by some Chechen-related ter­ror­ists, some­one can inquire Saudi Ara­bia what, if any­thing, they knew about that.

 But the piece de resis­tance is what hap­pened at the end of the dia­logue between the two lead­ers. It was, in not so many words, a threat by Saudi Ara­bia aimed squarely at Russia:

 As soon as Putin fin­ished his speech, Prince Ban­dar warned that in light of the course of the talks, things were likely to inten­sify, espe­cially in the Syr­ian arena, although he appre­ci­ated the Rus­sians’ under­stand­ing of Saudi Arabia’s posi­tion on Egypt and their readi­ness to sup­port the Egypt­ian army despite their fears for Egypt’s future.

 The head of the Saudi intel­li­gence ser­vices said that the dis­pute over the approach to the Syr­ian issue leads to the con­clu­sion that “there is no escape from the mil­i­tary option, because it is the only cur­rently avail­able choice given that the polit­i­cal set­tle­ment ended in stale­mate. We believe that the Geneva II Con­fer­ence will be very dif­fi­cult in light of this rag­ing sit­u­a­tion.”

At the end of the meet­ing, the Russ­ian and Saudi sides agreed to con­tinue talks, pro­vided that the cur­rent meet­ing remained under wraps. This was before one of the two sides leaked it via the Russ­ian press.

Is this whole story fic­tion? Maybe… but if so, you wrote it and why? Clearly there is more going on here than a bad guy with a gas fetish.

So… I don’t know what to tell you.  George Ball once told LBJ dur­ing the early dis­cus­sions about troop esca­la­tions in Viet­nam, “Wher­ever you go, that’s where you’re gonna be.” If Assad gassed the chil­dren of his own coun­try, and we have the intel cold – then let me pull the trig­ger.  But I’ve been to Syria, and I’ve been on ops based on bad intel – and I’ve learned this; there is no good intel about Syria.

Mr. Pres­i­dent, I think we should can­cel the op.

 Posted by at 12:44 pm

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