There are credible reports that ISIS used chemical weaponry against the Kurds in Northern Iraq.
While reading this story
, my mind immediately flashed on the August, 2013 sarin attack in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, an outrage which was immediately ascribed to Bashar Assad's military. At that time, only a few irresponsible oddballs, such as yours truly, dared to suggest that the real culprits were the anti-Assad rebels.
(The term ISIS was not much used then, but the rebels of that time included many warriors now fighting under the black banner.)
John Kerry assured the world that we irresponsible oddballs were wrong, and that only
the Syrian army possessed the rocket launchers necessary for such an attack. Kerry's information came from a Human Rights Watch report -- a report which I read carefully, and which I considered very unpersuasive.
Obviously, the anti-Assad forces do
possess rocket launchers, and no doubt had access to such weaponry in 2013. As I demonstrated in many posts published throughout that year, the rebels were getting supplies from outside nations which want to see Assad toppled.
As we shall soon see, the question of "What happened in Ghouta in 2013?"
has a direct bearing on the question of "What happened to the Kurds in 2015?"
Thus, much of this post will make reference to the earlier event.
The Iraq theory.
The big question that everyone is now asking is a simple one: How did ISIS get the chemical weaponry used against the Kurds? Here's one theory
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, "If they do possess these kind of weapons ... my guess is they're more likely to have gotten them as old weapons left over in Iraq from the old WMD program there than they were likely to obtain them in Syria in some kind of a hidden cache of the regime's."
I didn't say it was a good
theory. In fact, I would classify this particular suggestion as pure bullSchiff.
Adam, Adam, Adam
...! The American military occupied Iraq, did it not? And the military scoured the place for anything that might be construed as a WMD, did it not? Do you seriously expect us to believe that the military left a bunch of nerve weapons just lying around where ISIS could snatch it all up? Seriously?
Everyone knows that the spooks control nearly everyone on the intel oversight committees. The fact that Schiff felt compelled to offer up such a preposterous theory tells us that something important is being covered up here.
By the end of this post, I will suggest a much likelier scenario -- one which you will not see discussed in mainstream news sources. But first, let's look at another popular suggestion.
Did ISIS get it from Assad?
The Times of Israel
has bypassed the bullSchiff in favor of a different explanation:
The official said the US was never able to verify the Bashar Assad regime had actually destroyed its stockpile of the nerve agent in 2014, and it could have been hidden away and wound up in the hands of Islamic State fighters instead.
Also see here
ISIS could have gotten hold of mustard gas in Syria, where weapons inspectors suspect President Bashar al-Assad hid small stockpiles when he agreed to hand over or destroy his chemical munitions in 2014.
In fact, the destruction of the nerve agents occurred in 2014. Although the right-wing press has recently made the claim that some of Assad's chemical weapons escaped the notice of international inspectors (a claim not verified by objective sources), there is no evidence that the facility mentioned here
fell into the hands of ISIS.
Mainstream journalists and pundits are trying very hard not to mention the possibility that the anti-Assad forces got hold of chemical weapons before
the 2013 Ghouta attacks. This idea is considered unspeakable for one obvious reason: They don't want anything to upset their tidy little "blame Assad" scenario. They don't want you to suspect that the U.S. government -- not to mention our neocon-friendly press -- lied about whether the rebels had access to chemical weaponry at that time.
Nevertheless, the Great Forbidden Thought has wafted into the discussion on a nearly-subliminal level. It lurks in the background of this report
A senior U.S. official told WSJ that they have "credible information" that a mustard gas attack occurred, although the specific place and number of casualties were not given.
The newspaper wrote that IS could have obtained the blistering agent in Syria, where the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad admitted to having large quantities of it in 2013, when it agreed to give up its chemical arsenal. The Journal said the Syria scenario "makes the most sense," but that there was still a possibility that the militants acquired the mustard gas in Iraq.
Many news articles about the recent chemical attack on the Kurds have referenced the 2013 Ghouta affair. If you carefully read current media references to the Ghouta attack, you may notice something extraordinary: The lack of an actor
. Here's an example (from the afore-linked Times of Israel story):
Following a chemical weapon attack on a suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus in 2014 that killed hundreds of civilians, the US and Russia mounted a diplomatic effort that resulted in Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government agreeing...
Yada yada yada. Notice that the wording does not actually say
that Assad did it. The implication is there, but no actual culprit is named. Similarly, here
In 2013, the United States threatened military intervention against Syria's government after sarin gas attacks that year killed hundreds of residents in Ghouta, a rebel-controlled suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus.
Again: No responsible party is named. And this is the case in news story after news story. Our journalists are displaying remarkable discipline.
Indeed, they are so very disciplined that they refuse to mention the fact (which we have known since early 2014) that Obama halted the rush to war with Syria because voices within the American intelligence community warned him that the "blame Assad" theory was probably wrong.
Assad did not do it: Simple logic tells us as much. An attack on civilians in Damascus could never have benefited Assad in any way. It would have been idiotic to stage a militarily useless chemical attack at a time when outside inspectors had just arrived in Damascus. From the start, the attack made logical sense only if understood as a false flag operation by the rebels. The tide of civil war had recently turned against them, and they hoped to prod the U.S. into joining their fight.)
The only evidence "proving" Assad's responsibility for the Ghouta crime came from an alleged intercepted telephone call provided by Israel's notorious Unit 8200. The problem: Israel has been known to concoct this kind of evidence in the past.
For example, the Israelis fabricated evidence
that Libya was responsible for the 1986 bombing of a discotheque in Germany. Acting on cleverly faked signals intelligence (relayed to the Americans by way of a device called a Trojan), Ronald Reagan launched an aerial attack on Libya.
The parallel to more recent events in Syria should be obvious.
The Turkish theory. Sy Hersh's bombshell report
on the 2013 Ghouta attack has never been successfully countered.
Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal.
Sy points the finger at Turkey.
Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. ‘We knew there were some in the Turkish government,’ a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, ‘who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.’
Did a lightbulb just go off over your head? I hope so. (The phrase "other Islamist rebel groups" means ISIS.)
In recent months, Erdoğan -- an ally of Israel, the Saudis and the United States -- has been making war on the continually-beleaguered Kurds
. This is an appalling turn of events: The Kurds have been among the most effective opponents of ISIS. The Turkish government has pursued this war under various covers -- for example, Turkey has pretended that airstrikes against the Kurds were really intended as strikes against ISIS; somehow, by accident, the bombs fell on the wrong people. (Oopsie
Although NATO has supported Turkey
, much of the world condemns Erdoğan's bellicosity. More to the point, the Turkish attacks have infuriated the government of Iraq
. In case you have forgotten, we are supposed to be supporting
the Iraqi government.
All of which brings us to one final theory of how ISIS got hold of the chemical weapons used against the Kurds of northern Iraq. It makes sense for Erdoğan to use ISIS as proxies in his war against the Kurds, does it not?
If Sy is right -- and I think he is -- then the Turks gave chemical weaponry to the anti-Assad rebels in 2013. If the trick worked then, why not do it again?
As always, our first and best question is Cui bono?
If you want to know which state actor supplied ISIS with the chemical weapons which were against the Kurds, ask yourself one simple question: Which state actor wants to see Kurds get killed?
Of course, it would be foolish to expect our highly-disciplined media to mention this obvious possibility.