Syrian chemical weapons. What does the new deal mean?

So finally there has been a breakthrough and a deal made between Syria, Russia and the USA with regard to Syrian CW. On the surface it looks like a good thing and if you take it at face value then for certain it can only be good that there is one less way for Assad/Russia/Iran to kill civilians in Syria.

On the other hand, you have to remember that all sides of this deal all have their own political strategy and these haven’t changed. The USA still wants to see Syria divided up into three parts. Russia and Iran are working as business partners and their objective is to increase their dominance in the middle east. Syria is being used like a pawn in a chess game. Assad himself is little more that a figurehead these days, a marionette with Iran and Russia working together to pull the strings.

If we look at the terms of the deal it raises lots of questions but also gives an insight into the objectives of all the parties involved. I give my opinions based on my own observations and analysis as well as my understanding of the psychology and political thinking of the various parties.

Under the terms of the deal brokered in Geneva, Assad has a week to account for his CW stockpile, type, location and quantity etc. This raises the first question, nobody knows exactly how much CW Assad holds, any declaration he makes is going to have to be accepted at face value as there is no way to prove otherwise. Can he be trusted to make a full declaration of his CW assets? Further to this, just how do UN inspectors expect to be able to carry out their work, to examine if Assad is telling the truth or not, this is after all a conflict zone? This last factor gives the possibility for so many delaying tactics, if security of the UN inspectors can’t be guaranteed then how are they supposed to carry out their work?

As for the Syrian rebels, they see the talks in Geneva and subsequent deal as simply buying more time for Assad and view with high suspicion the motivations of the deal that has been made.  Therefore it is highly unlikely that they will agree to a temporary ceasefire in order for the UN to go into the country. The rebels view all the talk about CW as very hypocritical and political maneuvering, for the rebels there is no difference between Assad killing women and children with bombs and bullets rather than chemical weapons. If the west were serious about stopping the killing of innocents it would have stepped in a long time ago.

Russia is playing the better political game at the moment but it is early days and you can be sure that there will be a lot of pushing backwards and forwards between the USA and Russia over the next few month as they fight their proxy war in Syria. Russia certainly doesn’t have a problem with Assad using chemical weapons, when Chechen rebels took hundreds of hostages in a Moscow theatre a few years ago they used gas knowing that many innocent hostages would die. For the Russians, it was more important to kill Chechen separatists than save the lives of innocent theatre goers. So Assad has no pressure from the Russians about his use of gas. As long as you create the appearance of trying to do the right thing, this is all that matters.

The USA went with this deal because it gives them the perfect get out clause, they are no longer committed to air strikes on Syrian regime CW assets, not that they ever really wanted to in the first place. Syrian air defense systems are pretty strong and are getting stronger through the installation of Russian made S-300 system. Russia has its advisers on the ground training the Syrians on how to use the system, if the USA were to attack and destroy one of these installations and Russians were subsequently killed then the USA and Russia would be brought into direct conflict and that is a situation that neither side can afford. At the same time the USA wants the war in Syria to keep going for as long as possible as a way of getting Iran to commit more and more resources, human and weapon, thereby making Iran weaker as the financial costs of this conflict build up. What we are seeing is that the USA is getting more weapons than before to the FSA, which is forcing Iran to spend more money on helping Assad. Will this strategy work? Time will tell.

Then we come to Iran, so far they are the biggest winners in the Syrian conflict. The world’s eyes are toward Syria as they continue a pace and much closer to completion the development of their nuclear capability. They have two objectives that I know of with regard to Syria. The first is colonial, Iran has always had a desire to dominate the middle east, they desire to have once again a Persian empire. Assad miscalculated when he became President and allowed the Iranians deep inside the workings of the country, politically, militarily and economically. Now Assad is little more than a puppet on a string. Of course he would like to think that he is in control but he lost that a while ago. The second of Iran’s objectives is to keep the world occupied with Syria while it works on completing its nuclear development program. The new Iranian President Rouhani portrays the face of moderation and is warmer to the west but this is all part of the Iranian game of smoke and mirrors. Rouhani doesn’t have the real power, that belongs to the Ayatollahs and the Republican guard and their objectives have not changed. Rouhani is simply a delaying tactic. The USA thinks helping the FSA will force Iran to spend more money than it can afford on supporting Assad with weapons and fighters and Iran is pouring more resources into Syria to keep the USA busy as it hurries to get nuclear capability. Iran and Russia have a business partnership based on economics, oil, gas and weapons and geo-strategy, political influence and weakening the influence of the USA in the middle east.

Ok, time for a scenario, time will tell if I am right or wrong but based on my understanding of the different actors involved, I think there is a real possibility that something along these lines will happen. As nobody knows exactly how much CW Assad has or where he has it, we can make a safe assumption that the UN will not be able to take control of all the chemical weapons.  What I believe will happen is that some time after the UN has taken control of the declared CW assets one of two things will happen, maybe even both. Assad will use chemical weapons against an Alawite town or village. These weapons will be from part of the hidden stockpile that he didn’t declare or he will use his own people to make a raid on a UN guarded CW facility to steal them and at the same time make it look like it was the rebels who made this attack. Why would he do this? Assad has in the past killed those on his side that were no longer useful if he thought it could give him a propaganda advantage. He would be able to say, tongue in cheek, that all CW are under control of the UN so it isn’t possible that he launched the attack, much less so on people from his own tribe. It would be a huge propaganda coup for him on a global scale. You must also remember that the majority of the Alawites are also treated badly by the Syrian regime, it is only a small minority that have the wealth and power. Most Alawites are poor just like the majority of the Syrian population. The regime made the Alawites fear the Sunni majority in order to create a sectarian division, the fear that the Sunni would slaughter them if they ever came to power, this guaranteed that these poorly educated people have followed Assad not out of love and loyalty to a family member but out of fear that the treatment from the Sunni would be worse than that they already receive.  Assad despises the majority of Alawites only slightly less than he despises the Sunni. Killing a few thousand Alawite and making it look as if the rebels did it would be like a wet dream come true for Assad.

If Assad can pull this off then it would be a huge political and propaganda win for him. World opinion would shift and the rebels would lose a lot of good will but more importantly the USA would have serious egg on its face as it gets accused of supporting rebels who have finally been ‘proven’ to have used chemical weapons. This would put America in a very difficult and much weakened position on the international stage, Russia and Iran would wet their pants laughing at the USA as they build up their own global influence.

As I have said in a previous post, what is happening in Syria is no longer about revolution but rather a battlefield that is being used by two superpowers to try and outsmart and out maneuver each other in their battle to increase their global power and influence.

If you have any questions then please leave a comment or send me a private message.

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The reason why President Obama is happy the Russians won’t accept the French UN proposal on Syrian chemical weapons

Oh the games that are being played. So Obama jumped at the chance to accept the Russian offer to get Assad to hand over his stockpile of chemical weapons (CW) I actually laughed when I heard that bit of news. Just how do you go about collecting huge stockpiles of CW in the middle of a war zone. Back in the 1990’s it took UN teams 3 years to deal with Iraq’s CW and things were a lot easier there. So how on earth they could do the same in Syria is anybody’s guess. The fact is everybody knows this and it is just words being used to give an impression that something is being done.

Then there is the case of the French UN proposal that Assad must hand everything over in 15 days. The French knew that Russia would object to this. To be honest even the French know it isn’t possible for Assad to do this in 15 days. The French have made this proposal with US backing. So what is the reason? There are 2 possibilities:

The first is that the USA will launch an air strike on targets in Syria and all this talk about going to the UN is just hot air.

The second possibility is that the USA never had any intention of making a direct strike and all this talk about going to the UN is still just hot air. I believe this to be the more likely of the 2

As I have said many times before, the USA want to keep this war going for as long as possible. The reason being, is to get Iran and Hezbollah to commit ever more resources and consequentially become weaker. Bashar al Assad has become little more than a figurehead who is controlled by Iran. The USA helps the Free Syria Army (FSA), not enough to enable them to overthrow Assad but just enough to keep fighting. Saying that, very recently the US supplied the FSA with a large quantity of Chinese ‘Red Arrow’ anti tank/anti aircraft missiles and launchers as well as sniper rifles and several truck loads of ammunition. These were supplied through various Russia region Mafia groups the US uses when it needs to have deniability for certain actions. The intention is to give the FSA a morale boost, nothing more.

Non of the countries that say Assad should be punished care one iota for the ordinary Syrian people. They are using the war there for their own political aims. The USA and her allies know very well that Assad is under the control of Iran. If Iran were to win this war then it would be a big step in its ambitions to dominate the entire middle east. Iran with its business partner Russia are doing all they can to win this war, at the moment they have the upper hand over the USA. I would go as far as saying that the war in Syria is being used as a test of strength, cunning and strategy by the USA, Russia and Iran to see who is the top dog. Syria is being used like a pawn in a game of chess as the ‘superpowers’ battle for supremacy.

The war in Syria is no longer just about revolution, if there were no international interference then the Assad government would have been overthrown a long time ago. You would be amazed at the level of defection that is taking place from the Syrian army to the FSA at the moment. Iran is having to work full time sending its own replacements in to bolster what remains of the Syrian army. Russia is supporting Assad with weapons and new air defense systems and the USA is supporting the FSA in its fight against Assad. What we have happening is a classic proxy war. One false move by the USA or Russia and this conflict will have global consequences. The problem is they are blinded by their own hubris and ideas of how smart they think they are. In the next months events will happen which will take them all by surprise.

To finish, I am posting a link to a video interview I made with Mustafa. He is now back in Syria. The interview gives an insight into the thinking of what the normal Syrian people want. We only hear about extremists but they really are in the minority compared to the 180,000 of the FSA. The Syrian people are by nature moderate. They just want to have a quiet life. Watch the video and see what you think. Also if you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment or send me a private message.

President Obama’s speech about Syrian intervention

The US president has finally spoken, so what does it all mean. In a nutshell, not a lot.

I’ve read through the transcript of the speech several times to understand the language that was being used and it raises some interesting points as to what was said as well as what was not said.

Obama said that the US should take military action against Syrian regime targets. (italics are mine) He didn’t say that the US must or will take action, only that they should. This is clever political wording that leaves the door open for doing nothing whatsoever.

The responsibility for any decision is now apparently in the hands of congress which also gives another nice get out clause if need be. There is no guarantee that congress will give its approval for action but if it does then it will come with strict conditions. To be honest I think congress representatives have already been polled and decisions made before Obama gave his speech yesterday. He would not have made a promise like that unless he already knew what the decision would be. That is how politics works.

So we go through the charade of congress mulling over whether it should support the President or not. What will the result be?

First we need to consider what wasn’t said in the speech. Nothing was said about trying to overthrow Assad or help the FSA. In fact absolutely nothing was said about helping the normal Syrian civilians. All that was said is that the ability to carry out CW attacks should be degraded. From this, I am assuming that congress will come back with a very limited mandate for Obama to attack missile sites that are used to launch CW attacks as well as some CW storage and production facilities. Beyond this there will be nothing.

Back in April in a week long operation, over 500 civilians were killed in Damascus, among them many women and children by Syrian, Hezbollah and Iranian forces. There was no international outcry over this and no promise by the international community that action must be taken against the Syrian government. So what is different this time around? Not much.

When the Syrian revolution became an armed conflict, with Iran and Hezbollah being involved from the start, the USA saw an opportunity to weaken Iran and Hezbollah, to make them bleed in Syria. Since the start, the USA has helped the Free Syria Army in a limited way. Not enough help to enable the FSA defeat the Syrian government but enough to hold them and continue to commit resources. As it is Iran that is now running the war in Syria, it is Iran that is having to put ever more resources into this conflict. Iran is also using the war in Syria as a laboratory to experiment with different types of weapons, including CW and warfare techniques.

The US sees that Iran is getting the upper hand in this war and in order to rebalance things and keep this war going for as long as possible, the CW attack will be used as an excuse for any future action. However, any future action becomes ever more risky as Syrian air defenses become stronger and stronger with the ability to strike down missiles, this capability being supplied by the Russian S-300 air defense system. Iran has been preparing for this confrontation for quite some time now and Russia is fully backing them as a way of giving a black eye to the USA. In the end,any action taken by the USA will not be taken with the ordinary Syrian people in mind. Hence the irony of using their deaths as a justification for pushing forward various political agendas.