It has been a busy week for all warmongers and propagandists as far as Syria is concerned. So let’s just have a look at a few events.
First, of course, is the alleged use of “chemical arms” by the Syrian Arab Army, as claimed by several Western news outlets. The problem is, there is no confirmation for any of the claims being made.
Several independent experts cast doubt on the videos saying that the signs of the patients were inconsistent with the use of either mustard gas, sarin or VX gas. A few examples of experts’ opinions via news.com.au:
“At the moment, I am not totally convinced because the people who are helping them are without any protective clothing and without any respirators,” said Paula Vanninen, director of Verifin, the Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
“In a real case, they would also be contaminated and would also be having symptoms.”
John Hart, head of the Chemical and Biological Security Project at Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said he had not seen the telltale evidence in the eyes of the victims that would be compelling evidence of chemical weapons use.
“Of the videos that I’ve seen for the last few hours, none of them show pinpoint pupils… this would indicate exposure to organophosphorus nerve agents,” he said.
So, the video “evidence” is not conclusive. Let’s keep in mind that some of the videos uploaded bear the date of August 20 and the events happened on August 21. So even if there is a good explanation for this, the uploads happened incredibly quick after the events.
Even MSF, which is often cited as confirmation by some is cautious saying on August 24:
Three hospitals in Syria‘s Damascus governorate that are supported by the international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have reported to MSF that they received approximately 3,600 patients displaying neurotoxic symptoms in less than three hours on the morning of Wednesday, August 21, 2013. Of those patients, 355 reportedly died.
“MSF can neither scientifically confirm the cause of these symptoms nor establish who is responsible for the attack,” said Dr Janssens. “However, the reported symptoms of the patients, in addition to the epidemiological pattern of the events—characterised by the massive influx of patients in a short period of time, the origin of the patients, and the contamination of medical and first aid workers—strongly indicate mass exposure to a neurotoxic agent. This would constitute a violation of international humanitarian law, which absolutely prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons.”
So MSF says, it is not present in the country, but they have received reports of events which they cannot verify but deems credible. There is no confirmation of neither the cause nor the responsible parties (if any). Just note that neurotoxic agent does not necessarily mean chemical arms. Here is a short list of “neurotoxic agents”:
Adhesives, Agent Orange, ammonia, arsenic, benzene, carbonless copy paper, carbon monoxide, carpet cleaning agents,…
The list is long and is certainly not limited to chemical weapons.
Then it is said, why does al-Assad not allow U.N. inspectors into the country. A team of 20 UN experts has arrived on August 18, 2013 in Damascus, as DW (Deutsche Welle) confirms here. So there are UN experts already there and al-Assad decides to present them immediately after their arrival with all the evidence they need to prove that he uses chemical weapons? Hum, yeah, ok.
Then it is said, the experts are blocked in the hotel by al-Assad, why doesn’t he let them investigate if he has nothing to hide? Truth is, the UN is the one blocking, or stalling the investigation, says Foreign Policy:
Kevin Kennedy, a retired U.S. Marine colonel who heads the U.N. Department of Safety and Security, told a small group of reporters at U.N. headquarters on Friday that he hasn’t given the inspection team a green light to visit the site of the supposed attacks. His office is still carrying out a security assessment to see if it is safe enough to go.
So, that argument doesn’t really work either. It would be nice if media and politiciens would wait for the facts before drawing (premature) conclusions.