The Russians have called B.S. on the Western push to blame the Syrian chemical weapons attack on President Bashar al-Assad, releasing a 100-page “scientific and technical” report blaming the attack on the rebels.
While Russia’s stance has been dismissed by many in the West as an effort to protect its Syrian allies, it should be noted that military intervention may be even more necessary if the rebels have got ahold of chemical weapons.
“The risks of the [proliferation] of Syria’s chemical weapons are real,” Cornell professor Kathleen Vogel said late last year. “In light of the mounting instability of Syrian military forces and the growing chaos in the country, there are dangers from the loss of tight command and control of its weapons facilities.”
If fractious rebel groups have gained access to and fabricated the ability to weaponize Assad’s chemical stockpiles, their proliferation poses a significant threat to all neighbouring nations — Russian and American ally alike.
The rebels are neither as moderate as the administration would have everyone believe, nor are they as centralized.
CJ Chivers of The New York Times described them as:
Across much of Syria, where rebels with Western support live and fight, areas outside of government influence have evolved into a complex guerrilla and criminal landscape.
On the other hand, Chivers says of the two major Al Qaeda extremists groups:
They have established a firm presence in parts of Aleppo and Idlib Provinces and in the northern provincial capital of Raqqa and in Deir al-Zour, to the east on the Iraqi border.
Certainly the two strongest extremist presences outside Assad’s army are highly unpredictable and Al Qaeda-linked, while the moderates are at times loosely related bands of sometimes “fewer than 300 fighters,” Chivers describes, often with motivations of their own.
Allowing any chemical stockpiles to fall into any of their hands could have catastrophic outcomes, forcing foreign intervention.
What’s more, this form of intervention would likely have to involve ground troops.
It might look something like this: With approval from the UN, multilateral special operations forces would arrive on the ground in conjunction with CIA Special Activities Division and other clandestine operators.
They would work in concert with previously vetted and trained units to not only find targets — both human and materiel — but locate and surveil chemical weapons stockpiles.
Shortly following their arrival, the air campaign would begin. Then a hopefully short and limited ground campaign — centered on, again hopefully, a preplanned operation aimed at securing the stockpiles and a Syrian led restructuring of governance.
That’s the type of scenario we’re looking at it if it is proven that rebels used chemical weapons. If it is proven that Assad used the weapons, on the other hand, even Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he would not be against a strike.
While it’s not certain who used chemical weapons, it clear that chemical weapons were used. British scientists announced today that they found traces of the deadly Sarin nerve gas on clothing gathered from the site of the Aug. 21 gas attack in Syria.
Whatever happens next won’t be pretty.