Assad to use (Saddam’s?) chemical weapons in desperation?

June 29, 2015
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Yet another Baathist murderer

But… But… But wait! Obama said Syria didn’t have any chemical munitions anymore!

Well… About that.

U.S. intelligence agencies believe there is a strong possibility the Assad regime will use chemical weapons on a large scale as part of a last-ditch effort to protect key Syrian government strongholds if Islamist fighters and other rebels try to overrun them, U.S. officials said.

Analysts and policy makers have been poring over all available intelligence hoping to determine what types of chemical weapons the regime might be able to deploy and what event or events might trigger their use, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Last year, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad let international inspectors oversee the removal of what President Barack Obama called the regime’s most deadly chemical weapons. The deal averted U.S. airstrikes that would have come in retaliation for an Aug. 21, 2013, sarin-gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people.

Since then, the U.S. officials said, the Assad regime has developed and deployed a new type of chemical bomb filled with chlorine, which Mr. Assad could now decide to use on a larger scale in key areas. U.S. officials also suspect the regime may have squirreled away at least a small reserve of the chemical precursors needed to make nerve agents sarin or VX. Use of those chemicals would raise greater international concerns because they are more deadly than chlorine and were supposed to have been eliminated.

As a reminder, this is what the president said:

Assad gave up his chemical weapons. And that’s not speculation on our part. That, in fact, has been confirmed by the organization internationally that is charged with eliminating chemical weapons.

I guess no one told our fourth-greatest president ever “not quite.”

Regardless, the WSJ article mentioned Syria “developed” new weapons in the time since the inspections and removal. And  perhaps they did; with Iranian money and logistical help it wouldn’t be at all surprising. But, later in the article, there is this interesting snippet:

More worrying, U.S. officials said, would be the possibility that Mr. Assad could tap into a secret supply of sarin and VX. He might also be trying to reconstitute elements of his chemical-weapons program.

Hmmm… Where could this secret supply have come from? Sure, Assad could have squirreled it away to hide it from the original inspectors, but there’s another possibility: it’s stock that Saddam shipped to Syria before we took him out in 2003:

“There are weapons of mass destruction gone out from Iraq to Syria, and they must be found and returned to safe hands,” [former Iraq General George] Sada said. “I am confident they were taken over.”

(…)

Mr. Sada, 65, told the Sun that the pilots of the two airliners that transported the weapons of mass destruction to Syria from Iraq approached him in the middle of 2004, after Saddam was captured by American troops.

“I know them very well. They are very good friends of mine. We trust each other. We are friends as pilots,” Mr. Sada said of the two pilots. He declined to disclose their names, saying they are concerned for their safety. But he said they are now employed by other airlines outside Iraq.

The pilots told Mr. Sada that two Iraqi Airways Boeings were converted to cargo planes by removing the seats, Mr. Sada said. Then Special Republican Guard brigades loaded materials onto the planes, he said, including “yellow barrels with skull and crossbones on each barrel.” The pilots said there was also a ground convoy of trucks.

The flights – 56 in total, Mr. Sada said – attracted little notice because they were thought to be civilian flights providing relief from Iraq to Syria, which had suffered a flood after a dam collapse in June of 2002.

“Saddam realized, this time, the Americans are coming,” Mr. Sada said. “They handed over the weapons of mass destruction to the Syrians.”

There were rumors of this at the time of the invasion and for years afterward, never substantiated, but never wholly dismissed, either. One speculation had it that the WMDs were secreted in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley, an area control by Iran and Syria’s client, Hizbullah. Could Iran have authorized Hizbullah to give some of the old Iraqi stock to Assad? Strategically, they need to gain/keep control of Syria to funnel aid to Hizbullah, so that the latter can keep threatening Israel. So, if such weapons exist, and if Assad’s situation is as desperate as the Journal article makes it out to be, then it’s not beyond the pale to imagine.

Saddam’s great legacy is murder, after all.

via Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt newsletter

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Syria: You know it’s bad when your allies have to execute your own officers

June 9, 2015
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Soon to be an ex-dictator

Via Anne Bayefsky:

Iranian commanders overseeing the Assad regime’s fighting efforts on the frontlines south of Idlib have reportedly executed three Syrian army officers.

London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi said that the three officers were Sunnis who were among the regime troops that withdrew from the Mahmbel and Bsanqoul checkpoints following rebel advances in the southern Idlib province area on Saturday.

The three officers, who were also accompanied by several soldiers, were accused deserting their duty and “betraying the homeland,” the daily reported Sunday.

According to the report, none of the other Syrian officers or soldiers present at the time were able to prevent the execution as “officers responsible for military operations in the Jourin area are under the command of Iranian officers.”

A Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander told the paper that “the regime has handed over the operations room to Iranian officers and leadership.”

“The recent execution has caused a state of fear and terror among remaining regime troops,” the FSA commander added, saying he expected “more defections and more field executions.”

“There are still Sunni soldiers and officers bearing arms in the ranks of the regime’s army who will receive humiliating treatment during the coming period.”

Activists in the Latakia region also spoke to the paper about the impact the Iranian takeover of the operations room has had on morale among regime troops.

“Morale is very low among regime soldiers; in fact, it has become non-existent since the Iranian officers took over the operations room,” according to an activist identifying himself as Abu Said.

“Syrian officers, among them Alawites, have become secondary members, whose tasks can sometimes be reduced to handing out tea and coffee.”

Assad’s position is crumbling, and the only thing keeping him afloat is Iranian aid. And that means the Iranians are the senior partners and call the shots. And shoot people, even their “allies.”  One reason Iran is taking this hard line, aside from being refugees from a medieval lunatic asylum, is that they cannot afford to lose Syria, which gives them a strategic foothold in the Levant and the Eastern Mediterranean, and also serves as a conduit through which to send money and supplies to their Hizbullah cats-paws in Lebanon. Wouldn’t want to lose that opportunity to strike at the Zionist Entity (1), would we?

Meanwhile, Assad can surely escape; dictators like him usually have a few million dollars stashed in Europe and a jet on standby somewhere close. But, for his minions left behind? They’d better hope the Iranians like the tea and coffee they serve.

Footnote:
(1) That’s Israel, for those lacking an Islamic-Fascist to English dictionary.


Provocation and the Islamic State: Why Assad Strengthened the Jihadists

September 3, 2014

A very interesting article arguing the existence of a crucial role for Bashar Assad and his Russian-trained intelligence services in the birth and growth of ISIS, in pursuit of an “arsonist and fireman” strategy. That is, create a problem, then put yourself forward as essential to its solution, thus convincing America to act in service of a Syrian and Iranian goal — the survival of the Assad regime. h/t John Schindler.

Kyle Orton's Blog

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 3, 2014

An opposition poster showing Assad and the Islamic State as two sides of the same coin An opposition poster showing Assad and the Islamic State as two sides of the same coin

On August 25, Bashar al-Assad’s Foreign Minister, Walid al-Muallem, said: “Syria is ready for co-operation … to fight terrorism.” The week before Assad’s PR guru, Bouthaina Shaaban, told CNN that an “international coalition,” including Russia, China, America, and Europe, should intervene to defeat I.S. in Syria.

Back in March I wrote a long post laying out the evidence that the Assad regime was deliberately empowering then-ISIS, now the Islamic State (I.S.), helping it destroy moderate rebels and even Salafist and Salafi-jihadist forces, with the intention of making-good on its propaganda line that the only opposition to the regime came from takfiris,

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