Published On: Fri, Apr 7th, 2017

Trump’s neo-con spasm wasn’t a freak aberration; the old story of oil and gas

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In an interview he gave this week on The Liberty Report, Ron Paul chuckled as he talked about the possibility of Bashar al-Assad ordering a chemical weapons strike on Syrian civilians. He chuckled because the idea was and remains ludicrous. The Syrian Government, Paul pointed out (and to paraphrase), has had winning momentum since the Russians became involved to repel the invasion of its territory, and was poised to win a peace deal in which Assad’s position could only be assailed by voters. Why on earth would he do something to snatch military defeat out of those particular jaws of victory? He wouldn’t do it, said Paul: there was zero chance that he would do it. Later Peter Ford, the ex-UK ambassador to Syria, was also perceptibly incredulous in every fibre of his being as he was interviewed by the BBC. It was inconceivable that Assad would be so “self-defeating” given his prospects.

The version of events of the 4th April that seem most plausible to the author have been given collectively by the Russians and Syrians: the latter bombed a facility being used by “rebels” to store chemicals. Previously, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Idlib had been a centre for “produc[ing] toxic land mines intended for use in Syria and Iraq”. It’s well documented that chemical weapons are available to the forces ranged against the Syrian Government forces – in fact, for an example see the last time there was a huge potentially war-provoking furore when a chemical weapons attack was also attributed to Assad in 2013. That time (and this is famous), a UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said that “testimony gathered from casualties and medical staff indicated that the nerve agent sarin was used by rebel fighters”.

On the other hand the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal has long since been surrendered and dismantled under supervision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). This inconvenience won’t be allowed to get in the way of a particular story that the world must be told; the American Vice President basically accused Russia of failing to “fulfill its obligation under a 2013 agreement to eliminate chemical weapons from Syria”. So it was Russia’s fault too, and Pence confirmed to many interested observers that the Trump Administration was all-in on a pivot to globalism even before the President ordered a cruise missile strike.

This is all the page space that we’re going to expend on pondering whether or not Assad was responsible for a gas attack – and all the space the idea deserves –  except to wrap the subject up and reinforce the only conclusion we can make using some words spoken in reaction to the US missile strike by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov; words which reminds that American disdain for the sovereignty of other countries has sunk to a new low under a president supposedly very concerned about the sovereignty of his own:

This time, they didn’t even care to provide any facts, just referred to some photos, speculated on the photos of kids yet again, and of course speculated on the testimony of various NGOs, including the infamous swindlers from the White Helmets, who stage different situations to provoke activities against the Syrian government.

(The observant amongst our readership might have noticed that Lavrov forgot to mention the bloke in Coventry, the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights). The hurry to strike, stemming from the absolutely single and primary reliance on emotive propaganda,  without even any pretence at due process (including the need for Congressional approval) is in itself evidence – and very strong evidence – that the Syrians did not intentionally attack Khan Sheikhoun with chemical weapons. What need is there for an investigation when it is not going to reassert your narrative (and instead undermine it)? Do the deed before an excuse to do it exists no more. The hurry also suggests that there was some pressing strategic issue, and we’ll come to that shortly.

There was some other interesting reaction from Russia and Syria, and actually this is much more important than whether or not Assad bombed his own people with chemical weapons. Even if Assad did order some heinous act, would military action in retaliation by a seemingly disinterested outsider be worth the risk that the Russians are now offering? (Perversely, if Syria were committing atrocities, and if that meant they wouldn’t enjoy the protection of Russia, then it would be easy to get at them. It’s because Syria and Russia are convinced of their being in the right that the situation is so dangerous). The following extracts are all from a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry (source). It was very interesting to read this document because it had everything in it – meaning through it the Russians made very clear their position concerning the US’ activity. It also helps an English reader appreciate the determination and clarity with which the Russians are approaching the menace of the Globalist West; one wonders if there would be so many Twitter Trigger Pullers in the UK and US if the Western corporate-media reported Russian communiqués directly, or at all. The block quotes are from the aforementioned text, and the author’s notes accompany them.

The US could not have failed to grasp the fact that the Syrian government troops did not use chemical weapons [in Khan Sheikhoun].

What this tells us is that the Russians think that the Americans know that their pretext for bombing is a crock of horse manure.

It is not the first time that the US chooses an irresponsible approach that aggravates problems the world is facing, and threatens international security.

The Russians are saying that they view the US as a persistent and aggressive threat to peace, and it doesn’t matter who the president is..

The very presence of military personnel from the US and other countries in Syria without consent from the Syrian government or a UN Security Council mandate is an egregious and obvious violation of international law that cannot be justified. While previous initiatives of this kind were presented as efforts to combat terrorism, now they are clearly an act of aggression against a sovereign Syria.

This is extremely interesting. The Russians are saying that the rationale that the US uses for breaking international law and having a military presence in Syria without the Syrian Government’s consent will no longer be tolerated. Any US presence in Syria is an act of aggression. There are other comments from the head of the Syrian armed forces (chiming with things said by Lavrov) which remind that the US isn’t just at criminal fault because of overt illegal military presence, but because of how its support of terrorists – previously known as al-qaeda – is now out in the open.

The attack makes the United States of America a “partner” of ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations that have sought since day one of the unfair war on Syria to attack points of the Syrian army and the Syrian military bases.

So, rather than be the peacemaker that he told voters he would be to get voted into office, Donald Trump has exacerbated a big rift in American-Russian relations, and is at risk of cementing a unified international front (Russia, Iran and China being the main players) which is convinced that the USA is a threat to their territorial integrity and their very existence.

There is no doubt that the military action by the US is an attempt to divert attention from the situation in Mosul, where the campaign carried out among others by US-led coalition has resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties and an escalating humanitarian disaster.

The author isn’t up to speed with the state of affairs in Mosul, but now is inspired to take a look. The knowledge we can extract just by comprehension of the statement is that the Russians think that the missile attack had nothing to do with the stated reason. Moreover, the Russians are letting it be known that a catastrophic mess in terms of human suffering caused by US military activities in Iraq are not going unnoticed, and US actions in Syria are the height of hypocrisy. Indeed, it’s quite possible the Russians are hinting at a charge of war crime: look closely, the accusation is clear; the US-led coalition has caused a humanitarian disaster.

It is obvious that the cruise missile attack was prepared in advance. Any expert understands that Washington’s decision on air strikes predates the Idlib events, which simply served as a pretext for a show of force.

What the Russians means here is that a cruise missile attack would require more preparation time than would have available had it been a reaction to the event of just two days previous. As such, we discover that Russia thinks that the US had been waiting for a pretext to attack Syria. A pertinent question to ask is when did this wait start?; was an opportunity to hit Syria being looked for while the Trump White House’s official position was for no regime change? This might imply that the “no-war” stance commonly attributed to the Trump administration (an election promise) had lately become purely for show – if it hadn’t always been that way.

The exact reason for the show of force seems to have already been mentioned – as a diversion. But are the Russians letting on about the true nature of this decoy? It turns out that ISIS launched a “powerful” offensive in the vicinity of the Shayrat base – only twenty miles away according to a Daily Express article. The target was a military base at Al-Furqlus; the Express cited pro-Syrian news site Al-Masdar. Some good journalism from the Express, but it would have been even better if it mentioned that Al-Furqlus is the site of a state gas company, and ISIS had been contending for it in 2015. This place has also been on the front of roaming battle lines in the fight for Palmyra. So this offensive must be the same one referred to in an RT article “to gain control of strategic oil areas near Palmyra”. The Governor of Homs had been cited by RT that the attack had been unsuccessful, but the Express article could not be so sure.

This information becomes extremely interesting when you know that of the 59 missiles launched at the Shayrat base, only 23 landed there. 36 disappeared. Russian reports claim not to have any information†. The author wonders if they had been fired to support the Al-Furqlus offensive – even the missiles fired at Shayrat would have had a part to play in this to fend off counter air cover (there is talk that the base had been evacuated). Was some urgent need to get ISIS into a place to deny the Syrian Government a supply of gas the real reason for the US “show of force”? Would the missile strike have been about getting bargaining chips as a possible peace settlement looms? Or about controlling territory for claiming ownership when the final buzzer sounds*; finding the chips lying where they fall, so to speak. Trump did always talk about how the US should have better exploited its Iraqi adventure and “taken the oil”. Maybe his off the cuff remark about getting another chance while addressing the CIA wasn’t a joke after all.

Finally, the Russian Foreign Ministry statement ends abruptly with this:

Russia suspends the Memorandum of Understanding on Prevention of Flight Safety Incidents in the course of operations in Syria signed with the US.

This is quite serious, is it not? Obviously this means that it might not be so easy, and decidedly more dangerous, to meddle in Syria on another occasion – in fact, it might already affect US operations;  the author doesn’t have any information to tell if that would be true or to what extent. Apart from that, it tells us that the Russians think the US abused a concord between them, and we can imagine it would be very difficult for them to trust the Americans again.

This subject of the Memorandum of Understanding, which was in force at the time of the missile strike, brings us to something that must be mentioned: a rather fantastical sounding story very recently conceived by a certain (stubbornly) pro-Trump (and now pro-war) “news” organisation which would like you to believe that the missile strikes were designed to impress the Chinese leadership as it visited Trump in Washington – the reader may have heard about it. This story relies upon the idea that the US selectively withheld information about the strike from China, while it did inform Russia so that the event could go ahead without casualty to any Russians, and it would be a surprise for the Chinese – who would know that the Trump regime meant tough business in their dealings with them. We know that the USA informed Russia because the US Defense Department confirmed it in a statement. However, this notification would surely have been related to requirements of the Memorandum of Understanding‡ – and nothing to do with somehow plotting with the Russians to put the willies up the Chinese. We’ll leave it right there.

 

Updates 09/04/2017

* In a tweet thanking the military involved in the strike on Syria, and in a letter to Congress promising further action, Trump has since doubled down, and apparently is not ashamed that he has engaged in flagrantly naked aggression against Syria. We should now realise that his administration was serious when it talked of regime change in Syria, and thus any military activity by the US in concert with its proxy terrorist army will be to that end. There is a feeling abroad on the internet that Trump must be impeached.

The following items are sourced from the Saker’s “Syria US missile strike Naval Brief NB 05/17 April 08, 2017”, here.

† Claims are being made that the missing missiles may have been due to the electronic jamming wonder-technology that the Russians are rumoured to possess (we may have seen a demonstration of this in the infamous case of the USS Donald Cook).

‡ “Russia was ‘informed’ by the US, prior to the missile strike by being given a ‘deconfliction’ note.” This implies that notification was per Memorandum of Understanding requirements.

 

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