The Opinions of Western Leaders about the Khan Shaykhun Incidents
In the EU, Germany’s as usual spineless Angela Merkel and Francois “Mr. 4%” Hollande could not think of anything better than to adopt the U.S. narrative and to lay the entire blame on Assad, thus immediately disqualifying themselves from being taken seriously. The British leaders in their functions as U.S. poodles and long-time opponents of Russia in The Great Game also could not help themselves and sent Boris Johnson to clamor for “sanctions against Syrian and Russian military figures” during the G7 meeting. EU Commission President J.-C. Juncker and the EU Commission’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini fortunately displayed much more caution, as did Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau. As one of the very few sane voices in U.S. foreign policy, Hawaiian Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard also joined that club, but of course not without being reprimanded Hermann Goering-style for her ‘lack of patriotism’ by the insane in the form of establishment Democrat Howard Dean.
The Opinions of Experts about the Khan Shaykhun Incidents
As far as actual experts are concerned, former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice indirectly defended Assad by pointing out in January that
“We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile.”
Damascus based British journalist Tom Duggan likewise confirms the official Syrian version of a Syrian fighter jet “bombing an ammunitions dump owned by terrorists and their factory […] that makes chemical weapons,” later identifying terrorists attacking Damascus as “Al-Nusra” (at 3:05 in the video). Duggan also points out that terrorists use “home-made chemical weapons” such as “chlorine gas” (at 4:45), stating “the rebels use the chemical weapons all the time and put the blame on Bashar al-Assad” (5:15).
Former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford likewise states that it is “highly unlikely” (0:10) that either Syria or Russia were behind the gas attacks, also since “we know for a fact that the Jihadis were storing chemical weapons in schools in Eastern Aleppo, because these were seen later by Western journalists” (0:40). About the West:
“They made all these mistakes: Iraq, Libya — they never learn. And they would like to reproduce the same scenario in Syria” (2:35). He also added “You may think it’s significant that this attack comes days” (3:15) after the Trump administration announced that their priority in Syria is the fight against ISIS, concluding “if the Jihadis wanted to complicate, ah, Trump’s task of making America’s policy more sensible, they wouldn’t have gone about it any other way than trying to mount a piece of fake news like this.”
Then there are also the likewise opinions of Bashar al-Assad himself, of Russian general Sergei Rudskoy, of Jonathan Steele from Middle East Eye (3:30) or Stephen F. Cohen, a Russian studies professor emeritus from Princeton and later New York University (4:48 in this video).
Beyond that and just as was the case in 2013, high-integrity members of the intelligence community are once again having a very hard time stomaching how U.S. politicians and mainstream media misrepresent the events in Syria. Take note of the passages from this article which largely consist of a transcript from the Scott Horton Webcast interview with Veteran Intelligence Members for Sanity founding member Philip Giraldi:
“I’m hearing from sources on the ground in the Middle East, people who are intimately familiar with the intelligence that is available who are saying that the essential narrative that we’re all hearing about the Syrian government or the Russians using chemical weapons on innocent civilians is a sham.”
Giraldi said his sources were more in line with an analysis postulating an accidental release of the poison gas after an Al Qaeda arms depot was hit by a Russian airstrike.
‘The intelligence confirms pretty much the account that the Russians have been giving … which is that they hit a warehouse where the rebels — now these are rebels that are, of course, connected with Al Qaeda — where the rebels were storing chemicals of their own and it basically caused an explosion that resulted in the casualties. Apparently the intelligence on this is very clear.”
Giraldi said the anger within the intelligence community over the distortion of intelligence to justify Trump’s military retaliation was so great that some covert officers were considering going public.
“People in both the agency [the CIA] and in the military who are aware of the intelligence are freaking out about this because essentially Trump completely misrepresented what he already should have known — but maybe he didn’t — and they’re afraid that this is moving toward a situation that could easily turn into an armed conflict,” Giraldi said before Thursday night’s missile strike. “They are astonished by how this is being played by the administration and by the U.S. media.”
And lo and behold, here we do have the VIPS going public in a 15 points article signed by 24 of its members including William Binney, Thomas Drake, John Kiriakou and Ray McGovern:
1 — We write to give you an unambiguous warning of the threat of armed hostilities with Russia — with the risk of escalation to nuclear war. The threat has grown after the cruise missile attack on Syria in retaliation for what you claimed was a “chemical weapons attack” on April 4 on Syrian civilians in southern Idlib Province.
2 — Our U.S. Army contacts in the area have told us this is not what happened. There was no Syrian “chemical weapons attack.” Instead, a Syrian aircraft bombed an al-Qaeda-in-Syria ammunition depot that turned out to be full of noxious chemicals and a strong wind blew the chemical-laden cloud over a nearby village where many consequently died.
3 — This is what the Russians and Syrians have been saying and — more important –what they appear to believe happened.
What really cinches the analysis and its outcome of Assad being all but certain to be innocent with regard to the Khan Shaykhun gas attacks is the following research paper by MIT’s famous ‘war incident technical analyst’ Theodore Postol:
I have reviewed the document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria at roughly 6 to 7 a.m. on April 4, 2017.
In fact, a main piece of evidence that is cited in the document points to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of April 4.
The piece of evidence in question is a crater and a pipe or alleged piece of munition in it. About these he has the following to say:
I have located this crater using Google Earth and there is absolutely no evidence that the crater was created by a munition designed to disperse sarin after it is dropped from an aircraft. […]
As shown in the close-up of the pipe in the crater in Figure 3, the pipe looks like it was originally sealed at the front end and the back end. Also of note is that the pipe is flattened into the crater, and also has a fractured seam that was created by the brittle failure of the metal skin when the pipe was suddenly crushed inward from above.
Figure 4 shows the possible configuration of an improvised sarin dispersal device that could have been used to create the crater and the crushed carcass of what was originally a cylindrical pipe. A good guess of how this dispersal mechanism worked (again, assuming that the crater and carcass were not staged, as assumed in the White House report) was that a slab of high explosive was placed over one end of the sarin-filled pipe and detonated.
The explosive acted on the pipe as a blunt crushing mallet. It drove the pipe into the ground while at the same time creating the crater. Since the pipe was filled with sarin, which is an incompressible fluid, as the pipe was flattened the sarin acted on the walls and ends of the pipe causing a crack along the length of the pipe and also the failure of the cap on the back end. This mechanism of dispersal is essentially the same as hitting a toothpaste tube with a large mallet, which then results in the tube failing and the toothpaste being blown in many directions depending on the exact way the toothpaste skin ruptures.
If this is in fact the mechanism used to disperse the sarin, this indicates that the sarin tube was placed on the ground by individuals on the ground and not dropped from an airplane.
This turn of events was even confirmed by commentator 14, one “Xander USMC”:
“There is no question that the photo, if accurate, is consistent with a charge placed above rather than within.”
Similar to previous reported or actual gas attacks, there is also virtually no good reason to believe that the Assad regime committed the chemical attacks in Khan Shaykhun on April 4, 2017, and virtually every reason to believe that this was a (legitimate military hit turned) false flag attack that was committed by local rebel groups and possibly also by other parties that want to see Assad removed. What can also be learned from this is that, as usual, it would be huge mistake to take the stories spun by insane U.S. mainstream-media, by insane U.S. politicians or officials, or by insane press speakers (see Sean Spicer rambling about “Holocaust Center” or “Hitler […] did not […] sink to the level of using chemical weapons”) seriously.
The crowning irony in all of this is perhaps U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley making a very sad Panda face at the U.N. to get those pathos-juices flowing and claiming entirely without irony “Russia(!!!) uses the same false narrative to deflect attention from their allies […]. Time and time again, without any factual basis, Russia(!!!) attempts to place blame on others” (starting at 0:39 in the video). Orwellian and ‘pre-humanitarian-intervention’ neocon lies and insanity at their worst, and one can only hope that more and more people are waking up to this or to what is actually happening in Syria or elsewhere.
Gregor Flock is an independent philosopher (univie.academia.edu/GregorFlock), independent journalist, Global Civil Society Network founder & ed.-in-chief (www.gcsno.org/my-blog/).