As the Obama Administration prepares to send more weapons to Syria, despite Al Qaeda getting a hold of the last batch, now may be a good time to look back on how we got here and why President Obama did not get to bomb yet another country he wanted to. The reason might surprise you.
Though there were many opponents of Obama’s bombing plan in Syria few were louder and more prominent than the Pentagon which both privately and publicly opposed entering the war with Syria, but why did they prevail? Part of the reason, according to famed investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, was that tests performed by British Intelligence showed that the Sarin used in the “red line” crossing attack in Ghouta, Syria did not match known stockpiles held by the Assad government.
Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria’s infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.
A key fact the Obama Administration withheld from the American people.
The Pentagon was already worried about the unforeseeable and unintentional consequences of bombing Syria, now they had evidence that Assad was not even behind the chemical weapons attack that was being used to justify the potential US strikes.
And according to Department of Defense officials the Obama Administration had been making other false claims.The joint chiefs also knew that the Obama administration’s public claims that only the Syrian army had access to sarin were wrong. The American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons. On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page ‘talking points’ briefing for the DIA’s deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was ‘the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s pre-9/11 effort’...
Al-Nusrah Front’s relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the group’s CW aspirations will be difficult to disrupt in the future.’ The paper drew on classified intelligence from numerous agencies: ‘Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators,’ it said, ‘were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.’
And the plot thickens.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia are avowed enemies of the Assad regime and no friends of Assad’s key ally, Iran. Saudi Arabia has actively backed the Syrian rebels including Al Qaeda in an effort to project power in a larger struggle against Iran and Shiite influence in the Middle East. Did Saudi Arabia or Turkey give the rebels the sarin used in the attack on Ghouta?
The more that is revealed the more it is clear that not bombing Syria was one of the wiser moves the US government has made in some time. Now if only they would stop giving Al Qaeda guns.
Image by Bosch under public domain.