Published on 27 Apr 2013

Syria and chemical weapons: 12 key questions

WMD, the Middle East, and here we go again…

Already a British prime minister is talking about a “war crime” whilst offering the British people no detailed evidence.

Fortunately, President Obama is a man so congenitally cautious he’d convene a Congressional Inquiry to run a bath. For that, we must be grateful.

Haunted by the mistakes of Bush and Blair over Iraq and the resulting bloodshed continuing today, President Obama is even more beyond hesitant than usual regarding Syria.

And he matters in this. Cameron doesn’t.

We should be grateful for Oval Office caution, because important questions need answers and for the record here they are:

1. Why have the US/UK governments so far produced no detailed evidence to back claims of chemical weapons use? David Cameron himself said yesterday that the evidence was “limited, although growing” – but what details does he have? There is an important body of evidence that needs to be built and communicated to the public.

2. What were the samples? Measurements? Traces?

3. Why has nobody from Porton Down – where samples have reportedly been tested – been put up for interview by UK government to substantiate the claim?

4. Who can verify the provenance of sample material and prove it is bona fide to assure the British people we’re not being spun by opposition war propaganda?

5. Why were no samples obtained from the site of the video of alleged chemical weapons use reported by The Times? Why were they filmed, but no samples collected?

6. We’re asked to believe MI6 got samples of Syrian “chemical weapons attacks” before this one – yet somehow video was carefully shot but not one sample taken?

7. Why doesn’t any medic in the film wipe away the white foam on patients’ mouths – the basic paramedic fundamental to preserve an airway?

8. Why did just a few people die – surely a large number of people would have died in a chemical attack, as in Halabja and Iran/Iraq war?

Check out the Channel 4 News map of where rebels say the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons here.

9. The distressing images of seemingly sick or dead people with foam on their mouths have been widely shown. I am no expert but why is the foam at the mouth white as toothpaste and curiously uncontaminated with either blood, phlegm etc as you would expect – why is the colour and distribution so similar patient to patient?

10. Why did Washington and London suddenly start talking about all this on the very same day? Who co-ordinated the news message and why?

11. Why the co-ordinated “chemical weapons” message before the UN has even entered Syria to collect samples in a forensic fashion from alleged sites of attack?

12. President Obama said that a “whole bunch” of chemical weapons would have to be deployed and used in Syria to meet his “red line” test – so why was it widely reported on Sky and BBC yesterday that Obama’s red line had been stretched and crossed?

Feel free to bear these in mind in the coming days.

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17 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:

    Alex,

    MI6 and the CIA?

    Does ANYBODY believe ANYTHING that pair of stumblebum mass-murdering spiv gangs put out?

    We didn’t need the “dodgy dossier” to be able to catalogue how both of them have caused death and misery around the world for decades. They would sell their own mothers if it proved how “patriotic” (read: loony fanatic) they are.

    And if they have a file on me they can add that comment to it.
    :-)

    Meanwhile, has any journalist or politician followed up seriously on Peter Wright’s long-ago accusation (and who should know better?) in his book “Spycatcher” that members of the “intelligence” services planned treason against a Labour government? Why have those traitors not been named and prosecuted? Why have their links with similar nutjobs in the USA not been described? Answers on a postcard…….

    And they wonder why their sick mischief making is held in contempt around the world…….

    If Assad has used chemical weapons he should be locked up for life in the same cell as the corrupt paranoid lunatics at Langley and Vauxhall Cross. They deserve each other.

  2. Sean Duffy says:

    Excellent piece of journalism.Particularly number 10

  3. Karen says:

    I came to view this after hearing your news report last night and then reading your article re Facebook baby beating video. I have since deactivated my Facebook account.

    I applaud your reporting as it speaks more truth to me than all of the rest on the news on the mainstream media. After 9/11, the dupe ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in Iraq and the pathetic Osama bin laden ‘killing’ reports (with cheap grainy shakey video shots of nothing followed by ‘dumping at sea’!! I ask you!!) I don’t believe the mainstream media and what they are told to say anymore. Well done you for questionning all this, lets hope it encourages a few others to too.

  4. pmr9 says:

    One of the individuals shown in the video with brilliant white foam on his face has an endotracheal tube in place. If foam was coming from the lungs, it would be in the tube (which is clear), not on the face.

  5. SJXT says:

    10. Why did Washington and London suddenly start talking about all this on the very same day? Who co-ordinated the news message and why?

    That’s an easy one.

    Congress and Senators picking up recent reports of possible Chemical WMD use had demanded the Administration’s assessment, the timetable for the answer was known as Hagel had announced when they would get back to the Senate/Congress with what they knew, and the Cameron government, who would like Obama to “do more”, took the opportunity to apply some pressure as the Administration came to give its reply.

  6. lidia says:

    NO, the 1st and last question should be:

    WHY the war criminals and mass-murderers aka the leaders of free world are threatening ONCE MORE a ME state with new aggression (a war crime in itself, by Nuremberg trial wording)

    Not mentioning them (the war criminals) being busy supporting terrorists against Syria and concocting “a Syrian government” out of their puppets.

    Obama the butcher of countless people all over the world is no more “cautious” than the serial murderer who is double checking his ammo before going to get the next victim.

  7. David Henderson says:

    If chemical weapons have been used? What will we or The US do? Bomb them perhaps our leaders have their hands tied and can’t admit it.

    As for “War Crimes” all war is a crime. Shoot, bomb, stab, burn, nuke, poison and gas all the same really as people are killed and maimed whenever.

    1. lidia says:

      If every war is a crime, so why “your” war criminal rulers are still at large and their hands are very much free?

  8. Eager Beaver says:

    1. Why have the US/UK governments so far produced no detailed evidence to back claims of chemical weapons use? David Cameron himself said yesterday that the evidence was “limited, although growing” – but what details does he have? There is an important body of evidence that needs to be built and communicated to the public.
    –> They have blood samples from victims. That should suffice.

    2. What were the samples? Measurements? Traces?
    –> Hint to the author: do more careful research. There are blood and hair samples and lots of more info is available.

    3. Why has nobody from Porton Down – where samples have reportedly been tested – been put up for interview by UK government to substantiate the claim?
    –> Because employees are not authorized to talk to media, infos are relayed to competent authorities who have made an annoucement. Nothing wrong with it.

    4. Who can verify the provenance of sample material and prove it is bona fide to assure the British people we’re not being spun by opposition war propaganda?
    –> Opposition has no access to sarin gas. They can’t have contaminated a sample themselves.

    5. Why were no samples obtained from the site of the video of alleged chemical weapons use reported by The Times? Why were they filmed, but no samples collected?
    –> Not easy to take samples, smuggle them out of Syria, and get them to US/UK intelligence. We can’t expect this to happen for every instance under consideration.

    6. We’re asked to believe MI6 got samples of Syrian “chemical weapons attacks” before this one – yet somehow video was carefully shot but not one sample taken?
    –> Isn’t this question very similar to Q5?

    7. Why doesn’t any medic in the film wipe away the white foam on patients’ mouths – the basic paramedic fundamental to preserve an airway?
    –> As I see in the video, the foam is removed from the mouth and nose and only remains on other parts of the victim’s face.

    8. Why did just a few people die – surely a large number of people would have died in a chemical attack, as in Halabja and Iran/Iraq war?
    –> Well, it depends on how many gas grenades / munitions were fired. If this is, as many believe, an attempt of Assad to test how far he can go, it makes perfect sense to fire only 1-2 grenades and see what happens.

    9. The distressing images of seemingly sick or dead people with foam on their mouths have been widely shown. I am no expert but why is the foam at the mouth white as toothpaste and curiously uncontaminated with either blood, phlegm etc as you would expect – why is the colour and distribution so similar patient to patient?
    –> Should be answered by a chemical weapons expert.

    10. Why did Washington and London suddenly start talking about all this on the very same day? Who co-ordinated the news message and why?
    –> Quite normal for the UK to comment once US goes public. This is by no means suspicious.

    11. Why the co-ordinated “chemical weapons” message before the UN has even entered Syria to collect samples in a forensic fashion from alleged sites of attack?
    –> The real relevant Q is: why doesn’t Assad allow the UN to investigate?

    12. President Obama said that a “whole bunch” of chemical weapons would have to be deployed and used in Syria to meet his “red line” test – so why was it widely reported on Sky and BBC yesterday that Obama’s red line had been stretched and crossed?
    –> Because he and administration officials repeatedly referred to “chemical weapon use” without the “whole bunch” modifier. It is reasonable for everyone to assume any use of CWs crosses the red line.

    1. lidia says:

      “The real relevant Q is: why doesn’t Assad allow the UN to investigate?”
      NO, he agreed to UN investigation. But USA demanded it to be turn a wholesale spying operation.
      So, the real relevant Q is: why doesn’t Obama allow the UN to investigate? (it is clear that NO government would agree to such “inspection”, Esp. after Iraq.

      And I would like to know why EB believes a WORD of USA/UK governments? Of course, if he wants to be duped one more time, he could help himself. But a lot of others are just fed up.

  9. Hus says:

    Syria and chemical weapons: 12 key questions to exonerate the Assad regime

  10. quietoaktree says:

    Excellent points — this feels like Iraq beginning all over again.

    With Israel mainly only worried about returning the Golan Heights to Syria –any reports from Israel should be taken ´with a pinch of salt´.

    The refusal by Assad to allow Americans or Brits to check for possible chemical weapon use is now understandable.

  11. quietoaktree says:

    Excellent article !

  12. quietoaktree says:

    BBC program ´The Newsroom´

    Syria– chemical weapons.

    ” It is clear that it appears…… chemical weapons” ???

    –What the heck is that supposed to mean — when active military involvement may depend on the ´factual´ conclusion ?

  13. lidia says:

    Now you could see for yourself what is Obama’s “caution” worth – zero. He is more than ready to start a new aggressive war against the next ME state. Peace prize, anyone?

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/05/01/syri-m01.html

    I expect only the worst from imperialist rulers and they usually do not disappoint me.

  14. King Kong says:

    When Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons, thousands of people were killed. Not a few. So, this is just propaganda.

  15. jenna kdlarken says:

    Since 100 page Russian report is best technical information so far, and contaminated chemicals used in Syria were similar to those caught by Russians in June from rebels, does us attack rebels now? Does UN or US have more detail information than russia to clear up issue for world publik?

Comments are closed.