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

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

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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 agunshot wound in a Paris hospital on Sunday where he was flown afterhe was “accidentally” shot by a Mauritanian army unit thatmisidentified his automobile convoy. However, unnamed securitysources say that the attacker was an unknown gunman who “directlytargeted” Aziz. Aziz is considered an ally of France in the waragainst Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and has been targetedby AQIM in the past. His support is considered essential in thelooming fight to recover northern Mali from al-Qaeda linkedterrorists. 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 equipmentmassing on the borders of Syria, the possibility of a joint militaryaction in Syria by all three Nato members appears to be increasinglyplausible. 150 American troops are in Jordan to help train theJordanians learn how to defend against a chemical weapons attack fromSyria, if one occurs. On the Syrian border farther north, Britishmilitary officers are assessing how to defend Jordan from rockets thatare constantly falling from across the border. On Turkey’s borderwith Syria, Turkish forces have been exchanging fire with Syrians, andofficials have threatened more robust action if the shelling fromSyria 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 ofwhether Syria’s chemical weapons were sent from Iraq by Saddam Husseinjust prior to the American ground invasion in 2003. It’s known thatIraq had WMDs in the 1980s and 1990s, and most intelligence servicesaround the world believed that Saddam continued to do so in 2003. Itwas fear and anxiety of Saddam’s WMDs that triggered the 2003 groundinvasion. (See “The Iraq war may be related to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” from2008.) But the ground invasion failed to find any WMDs, leading to anideological argument over whether the intelligence reports should havebeen believed. (This is an ironic discussion, since if it hadn’t beenfor the ground invasions, we presumably still wouldn’t know whetherSaddam was developing more WMDs, and we, Iran and Israel would betotally panicked about the possibility.)

So the question of what happened to Saddam’s WMDs has never beenanswered. One theory is that Saddam sent them to Syria, placing themunder the control of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad. JamesClapper, the current Director of National Intelligence in the Obamaadministration, wrote in October 2003 that he believed, based onclassified satellite imagery, that Saddam had sent the WMDs to Syria,and perhaps to other countries as well. These may be part ofthe chemical weapons stockpiles that al-Assad has today. It’s knownthat al-Assad is developing other WMDs, particularly after the IsraeliAir Force destroyed Syria’s nuclear facility in September 2007.

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

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