World View: Possible Nato Invasion of Syria Revives Iraq's WMDs Debate

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Mali militants may be responsible for 'accidental' shooting of Mauritania's president
  • A Nato invasion of Syria becomes increasingly plausible
  • Syria's chemical weapons revive the debate of Iraq's WMDs

Mali militants may be responsible for 'accidental' shooting of Mauritania's president

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz (Reuters)
Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz (Reuters)

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz is recovering from a gunshot wound in a Paris hospital on Sunday where he was flown after he was "accidentally" shot by a Mauritanian army unit that misidentified his automobile convoy. However, unnamed security sources say that the attacker was an unknown gunman who "directly targeted" Aziz. Aziz is considered an ally of France in the war against Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and has been targeted by AQIM in the past. His support is considered essential in the looming fight to recover northern Mali from al-Qaeda linked terrorists. AFP

A Nato invasion of Syria becomes increasingly plausible

Turkey's armored vehicles deployed to the Syrian border early this month (AA)
Turkey's armored vehicles deployed to the Syrian border early this month (AA)

With American, British and Turkish troops and military equipment massing on the borders of Syria, the possibility of a joint military action in Syria by all three Nato members appears to be increasingly plausible. 150 American troops are in Jordan to help train the Jordanians learn how to defend against a chemical weapons attack from Syria, if one occurs. On the Syrian border farther north, British military officers are assessing how to defend Jordan from rockets that are constantly falling from across the border. On Turkey's border with Syria, Turkish forces have been exchanging fire with Syrians, and officials have threatened more robust action if the shelling from Syria into Turkey doesn't stop. Gulf News / AP

Syria's chemical weapons revive the debate of Iraq's WMDs

A major ideological battle is starting to erupt over the question of whether Syria's chemical weapons were sent from Iraq by Saddam Hussein just prior to the American ground invasion in 2003. It's known that Iraq had WMDs in the 1980s and 1990s, and most intelligence services around the world believed that Saddam continued to do so in 2003. It was fear and anxiety of Saddam's WMDs that triggered the 2003 ground invasion. (See "The Iraq war may be related to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki." from 2008.) But the ground invasion failed to find any WMDs, leading to an ideological argument over whether the intelligence reports should have been believed. (This is an ironic discussion, since if it hadn't been for the ground invasions, we presumably still wouldn't know whether Saddam was developing more WMDs, and we, Iran and Israel would be totally panicked about the possibility.)

So the question of what happened to Saddam's WMDs has never been answered. One theory is that Saddam sent them to Syria, placing them under the control of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. James Clapper, the current Director of National Intelligence in the Obama administration, wrote in October 2003 that he believed, based on classified satellite imagery, that Saddam had sent the WMDs to Syria, and perhaps to other countries as well. These may be part of the chemical weapons stockpiles that al-Assad has today. It's known that al-Assad is developing other WMDs, particularly after the Israeli Air Force destroyed Syria's nuclear facility in September 2007.

So the whole situation is full of ironies. The only reason we know for sure that Saddam didn't have WMDs is because of the 2003 ground invasion. But now we don't know what happened to the WMDs that he previously had, or whether he transferred them to Syria. NY Times (2003) and Daily Beast (July 2012)


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