Apparently, Israel launched airstrikes against targets in Syria
last night. The initial reports indicated that the targets were chemical weapons facilities -- a claim which anyone with any sense regarded with extreme caution. CNN
Both officials said there is no reason to believe Israel struck at a chemical weapons storage facilities. The Israelis have long said they would strike at any targets that prove to be the transfer of any kinds of weapons to Hezbollah or other terrorist groups, as well as at any effort to smuggle Syrian weapons into Lebanon that could threaten Israel.
has now said that the target was missiles from Iran, allegedly being readied for transfer to Hezbollah, although I would put that last bit in the "Yeah, right
" category. Assad has been fighting a civil war for two years, and his chances of survival look slimmer by the day. The guy has other things on his mind (and other uses for those missiles) than helping Hezbollah attack Israel.
When you think about Syria, the important factors are these:
1. Always remember that the Nusrah Front -- the anti-Assad rebels being supported by the U.S. -- pretty much is
Al Qaeda. On the Sunday talk shows, you'll hear a lot of talk about the need to support "moderate" rebels in Syria, but this is just bluff.
2. The claims that Syria has already used chemical weapons are dubious at best. Consider the source
. A little more than a week ago, Lew Rockwell
(yes, yes, I know
) published a good discussion of these reports:
They wouldn't falsify those, would they? It's not like they have a history of faking reports to suit their goals of drawing the US into the conflict...do they?
Reading between the lines in such a situation is very important. What Hagel said was that the US intelligence community has determined “with varying degrees of confidence" that the Syrian government used chemical weapons (based on samples collected by the Syrian rebels). What this means in English -- and here I am forced to speculate based on what we know from the "footnote" taken by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) on the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which turned out to be absolutely correct -- is that some zealots in the intelligence community ran with this dubious intelligence passed on by Israel and "produced" by the insurgents like they ran with the yellowcake and the aluminum tubes lies on Iraq in the run-up to the war. Cooler heads (and my money is on INR, and not only because they have been right on the mark in the past but also because I am familiar with their independent streak and track record) screamed to the hilltops that this analysis was bogus, thus providing the "varying" degrees of confidence cited by Hagel.
Varying degrees of confidence likely means that INR believes the conclusion is garbage...
Let's get back to point one, above: Marcy Wheeler
notes that the FBI, up to its usual entrapment shennanigans, has gone after a young fellow named Abdalla Ahmad Tounisi. His crime? He wanted to join the Al Qaeda-linkd Nusra Front and help topple Assad.
But those are the same people we
A short while ago, Marcy also showed us the fascinating tale of Eric Harroun
, a likely CIA recruit arrested for fighting with Nusrah. He, too, was charged with using "weapons of mass destruction," even though he never had anything to do with the sort of devices we normally think of when that term is used. (Shades of the Tsarnaev brothers!) Harroun is still in jail
As the Harroun case demonstrates, the U.S./Nusrah/Al Qaeda linkages are absolutely mad. Americans would be outraged by this alliance if our media told the public the full truth. Make no mistake: Assad is a dictator who deserves to be toppled. But do we really have reason to believe that his replacement will be better?