World View: France Promises Military Response to Syria's Chemical Weapons Attack

World View: France Promises Military Response to Syria's Chemical Weapons Attack

This morning’s key headlines from

  • France promises a military response to Syria’s chemical weapons attack
  • President Obama continues full-scale Syria sales campaign
  • China fears destabilization of Afghanistan, as NATO pulls out
  • Drone strikes decreasing sharply in Pakistan
  • Never smile at a crocodile

France promises a military response to Syria’s chemical weapons attack

Bashar al-Assad smiles on Monday at a meeting where he's presumably celebrating the number of Sunni women and children civilians he's torturing and killing (Reuters)
Bashar al-Assad smiles on Monday at a meeting where he’s presumably celebrating the number of Sunni women and children civilians he’s torturing and killing (Reuters)

It was just a week ago when it was thought that Britain, France, andthe United States would form a coalition for military action againstthe regime of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad in response to theregime’s use of chemical weapons. But then Britain’s parliamentrejected any involvement, and President Barack Obama reversed hisposition, delaying any strike and leaving the decision to Congress,putting American foreign policy into chaos. 

This week, it appears that France is leading the effort. France saysit is building a coalition to back military action against the regime.According to Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Monday: 

This act cannot be left without a response. It’s notfor France to act alone. The president is continuing his work ofpersuasion to bring together a coalition without delay. 

France is determined to penalize the use of chemical weapons by(President Bashar al-)Assad’s regime and to dissuade with aforceful and firm response. The objective is neither to topplethe regime or liberate the country.

On Monday, France issued a nine-page report on Syria’s chemicalarsenal: 

The Syrian chemical program began in the 1970s withimport of chemical munitions. Since the 1980s, Damascus undertakento procure the materials, products and know-how the establishmentof an independent national production capacity and mass in thisarea. 

The nature of the Syrian chemical arsenal With more than athousand tons of chemical warfare agents and precursors Damascushas one of the world’s largest operational stocks withoutperspective programmed destruction.

Syria for years has been intensively developing chemical weapons anddelivery technology. The report details hundreds of tons of mustardgas, VX gas, sarin gas, and a wide range of artillery and missiles with a range up to 500 kilometers, capable of accurately deliveringhundreds of toxic agents. 

The report confirms “a massive and coordinated use of chemical agentsagainst civilians on August 21,” with half the victims being women andchildren. The attack could only have been made by the regime itself because of the quantity and sophistication of the weaponry required tocarry off this massive attack. 

The Russians have said that al-Assad would have to be “crazy” tolaunch such an attack, because they were already winning the war.This assessment is contested by many analysts, but the report makesal-Assad’s motives quite clear: 

Our information confirms that the regime feared alarge scale attack on Damascus by the opposition during thisperiod. Our assessment is that the regime sought to loosen thegrip of the opposition, and to regain strategic control of thecapital…

Finally, we believe that the Syrian opposition does not have thecapacity to lead a chemical weapons operation of suchmagnitude. No group belonging to the Syrian insurrection has, atthis stage, the ability to store and use these agents, let alonedeploy them in a size similar to that used on the night of August21, 2013 in Damascus. These groups have neither the experience northe know-how to implement them, in particular by the means used inthe attack on 21 August.

Reuters and France 24 and France declassified National Intelligence (Translation

President Obama continues full-scale Syria sales campaign

President Obama met with two Republican Senators, John McCain andLindsey Graham, who have repeatedly urged military action in Syria.The meeting is part of Obama’s full-scale sales campaign to get anaffirmative vote from Congress on military action in Syria. TheSenators are complaining that the president has no coherent policy,but is just reacting to one crisis after another with no strategy. 

After the meeting, Graham said: 

The President really has no one to blame in many waybut himself, about the lack of public understanding of what’s atstake in Syria. We talked about the past, the present and future.Twoyears ago, we had an opportunity to get Assad out, when therewere dozens of al-Qaeda only in Syria. Now there’s thousands, ayear from now there are going to be tens of thousands. Two yearsago, there were not 600,000 refugees in Jordan, compromising theKingdom of Jordan. Time is not on our side, so we urge thepresident to up his game.

Graham was responding to a threat by Bashar al-Assad that anymilitary action could cause the region to “explode.” Lindsey’s pointis that inaction is already causing the region to explode. As I’vewritten in the past from the point of view of Generational Dynamics,the region is going to “explode” with or without military action.Military Times and TV transcription. 

China fears destabilization of Afghanistan, as NATO pulls out

On Monday, Taliban suicide bombers and gunmen dressed as Afghan policeattacked a U.S. base near the Pakistan border, setting dozens ofparked NATO supply vehicles on fire. Reports indicate that thevehicles were to be transported across the Pakistan border overland tothe sea port of Karachi as part of the massive logistics effortrequired to remove ten years worth of military equipment fromAfghanistan before NATO’s final departure next year. Taliban suicideattacks have been on the increase as NATO forces have been leaving. 

China’s president Xi Jinping is visiting Afghanistan on Tuesday at atime when China is concerned that Nato’s withdrawal will free upjihadists to head elsewhere, including China itself. “The worry isthe withdrawal of US troops will have a spillover effect,” accordingto a Chinese analyst. Arab News

Drone strikes decreasing sharply in Pakistan

Drone strikes in Pakistan, 2005-2013 (SATP)
Drone strikes in Pakistan, 2005-2013 (SATP)

Despite increasing terrorist attacks near the Afghan-Pakistan border,American drone strikes in Pakistan have been sharply decreasing sincethey reached a peak in 2010. Although the drone strikes have beenextremely effective in eliminating terrorist leadership from al-Qaedaand the Taliban, they’ve experienced increasing public oppositionbecause of collateral damage. In May, a court ordered drones enteringPakistani airspace to be shot down, calling them a war crime, aviolation of international law, basic human rights, and theterritorial sovereignty of Pakistan. The US worry over safe andsecure withdrawal from Afghanistan has forced it to bend beforePakistani pressure and the steep decline in drone attacks is thenatural fallout. South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP)

Never smile at a crocodile

A tourist visiting an island in Australia was unable to leave theisland because a monster 20 foot crocodile kept stalking him everytime he tried to leave the island in his small canoe. He was trappedon the island for two weeks and was running out of supplies when alocal man going by in a boat spotted him by chance and saved him. 

There’s no word on whether the tourist tried to coax the crocodileinto swallowing an alarm clock so that he could listen for the tickingof the clock to know whether the croc was getting close. Daily Mail and Related YouTube video

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Syria, Bashar al-Assad,Jean-Marc Ayrault, France, John McCain, Lindsey Graham,Pakistan, Afghanistan, Taliban, NATO,China, Xi Jinping,Australia, Peter Pan 

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