THE MESS IN SYRIA—THE MISSING RED LINE

5/28/13

In his April 30 white house press conference, Obama said there is evidence chemical weapons have been used in Syria, but “we don’t know how they were used, when they were used, and who used them. We don’t have a chain of custody” (AND HE’S OUR PRESIDENT).
Syria’s ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari at roughly the same time as Obamas press conference accused the rebels of a chemical attack near the Turkish border. In March, Assad contended that rebels had launched a chemical weapons attack against Khan al-Assal, a town in Aleppo Province. The timing of the regimes latest claims should embarrass the White House. It gives the appearance that Obama and a ruling clique that has racked up a death toll approaching 100,000 are working two different ends of the same psychological operations campaign. Obama says he’s confused about Syria chemical weapons and Assad lends a hand by sowing doubt about the author of the chemical attacks in Syria. Albeit for different reason—they both want to ensure that the US sits on the sidelines of the Syrian civil war.
Syria analyst Tony Badran sees in all this a “cynical two step” in which Assad and Obama pick up on each others cues and send reinforcing messages. Per Badran, the Syrian regime has furnished plentiful justifications for the US not advancing its regional interest by helping to topple Iran’s chief Arab ally. There is fear that the fall of the Damascus regime would endanger Israel and threaten Syria’s minority communities that it would empower Sunni radicals allied with al Qaeda and that those same Sunni radicals might wind up seizing the regimes large stockpile of chemical weapons.
Obama claimed that white house policy from the beginning of the uprising was to pressure Assad to step down. Obama waited for 5 months before making any such statement and has sent mixed signals since then about whether he really wants Assad to go. They very RED LINE Obama drew last August was just such a mixed signal. The white house warned Assad against using chemical weapons, but also insisted that he must keep them under his control????
Assad cannot control his chemical weapons arsenal unless he is firmly in control of his country. The warnings were couched in heavily qualified language, which signaled to him that in comparison with a domestic uprising determined to kill him the white house was a much less serious adversary that he could risk ignoring.
Clinton delivered a strong warning ”that the Assad regime has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people. The concept of “credible evidence.’ White House wiggle room to do nothing. The red line showed Assad that Americans were ambivalent about his fate, Clinton’s reaction told him they were bluffing.
The administration doubted that Assad would ever be crazy enough to use chemical weapons. Assad regime has lost control of much of Syria. Assad has outmaneuvered Obama but it may just be that the White house is incompetent. French, British, and Israel counterparts in the conviction that Assad has employed chemical weapons likely more than once. Obama has 3 choices: he can enforce his red line, swallow his words or obfuscate the fact that he is swallowing his words. He has opted for the third. Unarmed sources have repeatedly leaked to the press that the administration was either contemplating arms shipments to the rebels or already facilitation them. General Dempsey 2 weeks ago said the US intelligence community still doesn’t really know who the rebels are.
The unnamed sources are likely part of yet one more media blitz meant to throw critics of Obama’s Syria policy off balance. Obama supporters reason tha the president is taking his cues on Syria form the American people, who have no appetite for more military conflict in the middle east.
The administration’s vague talk of military intervention is meant to raise the stakes so high that any form of assistance to topple Assad is pre-emptively taken off the table. To find and destroy Assad’s chemical weapons would take more than 70,000 troops.
Frederic Hof, of State said the central purpose “was to pour cold water on the idea of military intervention in Syria”. Hof has become one of the sharpest critics of the administrations Syria policy, concluded that responsibility for confused policy rest with the White House.

Source—weekly standard, lee smith

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