By Li Hongmei, Sina English
Syria’s chemical weaponry has been again unveiled to the media attention since a U.S. defense official cited international intelligence sources saying Syria was detected to be moving chemical weapons components in recent days, and preparing such munitions for possible use.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday warned the regime of Bashar al-Assad against any bid to unleash chemical weapons on the Syrian people, signaling that the United States would be prepared to take unspecified action.
"This is a red line for the United States," Clinton said after meeting Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, during which they talked about concerns over Syria's chemical weapons stockpile.
US President Barack Obama has also echoed the strong warning stressing that Syria’s Assad will face "consequences" if he uses chemical weapons against his people.
"The world is watching. The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable," said Obama.
He added that he wants to make it absolutely clear to “Assad and those under his command” that if they “make the tragic mistake of using these weapons” there will be consequences.
In response to the threats, the Syrian Foreign Ministry has issued a brief statement saying that Damascus will not use chemical weapons against its own people, “if they were available, under any circumstances against its people.” The ministry also stressed that Syria has stated repeatedly that it “will not use these types of weapons.”
Meanwhile, Washington as well as its allies has also warned of a possible military operation to secure Syria’s chemical and biological stockpiles, given that the White House has reportedly been mulling a wide range of measures from air strikes to targeted operations.
Information gap or even cover-up might well persist in a sensitive scenario of such kind, but media reports still released that Syria possesses up to 1,000 tons of chemical weapons stored in 50 towns and cities. The weapons include mustard gas and sarin, and the CIA also believes (or, rather, tries to make others believe) that Syria has attempted to develop more toxic and more persistent nerve agents, such as VX gas. The weapons, according the CIA, "can be delivered by aircraft, ballistic missile, and artillery rockets."
For anyone with a memory of what happened 9 years ago to Iraq, the reports sound alarming if not catastrophic. Indeed, all this is happening against a background of heavy military preparations along Syrian borders with Turkey requesting NATO allies to supply Patriot missile defenses.
Back to 2003, the U.S. started an unprovoked attack on Iraq.
However as such an unprovoked attack would not have occurred without some root causes or central cause, it is useful to examine the justifications and alleged causes for the Iraq War.
The primary reason given by the then president George W. Bush was that Saddam Hussein, then leader of Iraq, was engaged in the production or acquisition of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). These are nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons (examples are the anthrax letter attacks in the US and the Sarin gas attacks in Tokyo--neither of which had any connection to Iraq).
It was suggested that Hussein might provide these weapons to terrorists to attack the US. He had already used chemical weapons sold to him by the US against Iran, and also against Iraqi Kurds. Before the war UN inspectors announced they had found no evidence of WMDs, despite unfettered access. After the war was under way, additional investigation concluded Saddam did not have WMDs.
Initially, when the US commenced Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, it was a war against the country of Iraq; to remove Saddam from power. Iraq collapsed quickly. After Americans took control of the country it turned out that the whole story was cock-eyed and there were no such weapons in Iraq. But who would care – by that time the aims of the operations had been successfully achieved and there was no comeback.
Time elapses and situation changes, but one thing is looming large: That the U.S. launched the 2003 war to topple Saddam regime is partially, if not distinctly, for the U.S. influence on the oil rich region.
Nowadays, when and if we remember the 2003 event, we cannot but feel a kind of déjà vu: A similar propagandist campaign concerning Iraqi alleged program aimed at acquiring weapons of mass destruction. The then Secretary of State Colin Powell publicly demonstrated photos supplied by the intelligence and meant to demonstrate that Saddam Hussein was possessing such weapons and ready to use them.
History repeats, it seems that this time the U.S. is going to play the old well-tested trick. First, the massive media campaign aimed at persuading the international public that the biggest threat for the world is coming from Bashar al-Assad. Then comes some kind of provocation – like using a device that may look (and smell) like a chemical weapon and blaming the Syrian regime for it. This will open gates for an open military intervention that will lead to toppling Bashar al-Assad.
"We simply cannot allow the 21st century to be darkened by the worse weapons of the 20th century," said US President Barack Obama. He somewhat speaks his mind.
Also, what Obama said betrays the real intentions of the U.S. administration. Being the No.1 global power, at least technologically, the U.S. would prefer to remain the sole power capable of using the "best" weapons of the 21st century, depriving all others of the right and capacity to retaliate.
After all, the U.S. clout shrouding over the entire world must never dim anytime and in any form.