Shady Evidence: Why President Obama Pressed "Pause" On Syria Attack
President Obama would have already acted on solid evidence of culpability
[Black Star Editorial]
If President Obama was fully convinced that it was the Bashar Assad regime that committed the atrocities outside Damascus using sarin he wouldn't have punted to Congress decision to attack. Americans would have tuned in by now to a special news broadcast where Obama would have been explaining why the U.S. took action.
The reports are murky and the commander in chief knows that, even with all the warmongers calling for Syrian blood, including newspaper editorial boards that were only a week ago questioning who was behind the attack. There's even an NBC reporter who often sounds like a spokesperson for the Syrian insurgents.
Yes, the perpetrators of the apparent sarin attack that claimed the lives of a reported more that 1,400 civilians must be punished. President Obama himself set this redline last year; that any use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war would meet swift U.S. retaliation.
The redline must apply to both Bashar Assad's forces as well as the insurgents fighting his regime, including those affiliated with al-Qaeda that have been carrying out summary executions in parts of northern Syria under their control.
It's not beyond Assad's forces to use chemical weapons against enemies. After all, that is the reason why such weapons are stockpiled. Yet while Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.S. has new evidence confirming use of sarin, not a single Administration official has been able to say there's definitive information that Assad's forces were the perpetrators of the crime. National Security Advisor Susan Rice was reportedly one of the drivers of a hawkish poster.
There are reports, gaining more currency, that the insurgents themselves deliberately committed the crime to draw the U.S. into the war. The tide had been turning against the insurgents since the intervention of Hezbollah on the Assad regime's side. They helped Assad forces defeat insurgents and regain territory lost in northern parts of Syria. Some analyst question why Assad would commit a suicidal act by using sarin when the momentum was in his favor.
Earlier this year, in May, the United Nations reported use of chemical weapons in Syria by the insurgents. This report was largely ignored by the major media outlets presumably because it would upset the Hollywood narrative that Assad is the only bad guy in Syria.
If, indeed the insurgents used sarin in May, why is it difficult to believe that they could use it again, especially after the Hezbollah intervention pushed back their gains?
What's more Assad finally allowed United Nations investigators access to the areas where the crime was committed. It's odd that in the case of Iraq one of the rationalizations for U.S. intervention was that dictator Sadam Hussein wouldn't let UN inspectors in to search for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). In Syria there was a rush to war even while UN investigators were still there.
There are outside interests, including by Saudi Arabia and Israel for U.S. military intervention. Both countries would like to see Assad deposed. Israel would rid itself of one of Iran's key Middle East allies and presumably be able to draw more attention on the Persian nation's nuclear program. The Wall Street Journal has reported that the "new" evidence that convinced Obama Administration officials of Assad's guilt came from Israeli intelligence; hardly a disinterested party. The destruction of Iran's fledgling nuclear program is Israel's ultimate goal.
Saudi Arabia, which provides the bulk of financing for the insurgency (whose strongest fighting forces are Al-Qaeda affiliated) wants to remove Assad who belongs to the Alawite minority in favor of fellow Sunnis. The Saudis and Iranians, who are mostly Shia Muslims, are bitter foes. There is a report that chemical weapons may have been supplied to some insurgents by Saudi Arabia. The U.S. has also been wary of possible Saudi duplicity.
While both Israel and Saudi Arabia are U.S. allies, the regional geo-political and religious rivalries shouldn't obscure the need to determine conclusively who committed the chemical weapons attack in Syria.
The U.S. Congress must insist on a conclusive determination of the perpetrators of the recent sarin attack. Recall that with the Iraq invasion there was clearly a case of "sexing" up the evidence.
Once the perpetrators are reliably determined they must be punished. Last year President Obama drew a redline. This redline must apply to all side in the Syrian war.