World View: Evidence Suggests Syria's Bashar al-Assad Used Chlorine on Civilians

World View: Evidence Suggests Syria's Bashar al-Assad Used Chlorine on Civilians

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Proof that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad used chlorine on civilians
  • Kerry says that Russia’s Sergei Lavrov is ‘Kafka-esque’
  • Deadline expires for Kerry’s Mideast peace talks
  • Russia closes the Sea of Okhotsk to Japan and China
  • China’s ‘Maritime Silk Road’ plans threaten India in Indian Ocean

Evidence Suggests Syria’s Bashar al-Assad Used Chlorine on Civilians

Chemical warfare experts have examined soil samples taken from thescene of three recent helicopter attacks by the army of Syria’spresident Bashar al-Assad which showed sizeable and unambiguous tracesof chlorine and ammonia present at the site of all three attacks. Insome cases, the suspected chemical weapons were delivered in canisters markedwith their contents. 

Since only the al-Assad regime has access to airpower, these findings suggest that the chemical weapons attacks were carriedout by the al-Assad regime. Several people, including children, diedand hundreds were seriously wounded by the attacks. The three attackstook place on April 11, 18, and 21, and there’s additional evidence ofnumerous other chemical weapons attacks by the al-Assad regime. Lastyear, al-Assad used sarin gas tokill civilians. 

Bashar al-Assad is a warcriminal, but since President Obama flip-flopped last year on his “redline” and did not carry out his threat to use missiles to destroyal-Assad’s air force, al-Assad is free to continue to commit genocidewith impunity, fully supported and supplied by Vladimir Putin ofRussia. Telegraph (London)

Kerry says that Russia’s Sergei Lavrov is ‘Kafka-esque’

Yesterday, we reported on off therecord comments that were secretly recorded, where US Secretary ofState said that Israel could become “an apartheid state.” 

More comments from the same speech have now been published. Inthem, Kerry specifically accuses the Russians of lying aboutthe Ukraine situation and specifically refers to Russia’sforeign minister Sergei Lavrov not only as lying, butalso as “Kafkaesque”: 

Intel is producing taped conversations ofintelligence operatives taking their orders from Moscow andeverybody can tell the difference in the accents, in the idioms,in the language. We know exactly who’s giving those orders, weknow where they are coming from… 

It’s not an accident that you have some of the same peopleidentified who were in Crimea and in Georgia and who are now ineast Ukraine. This is insulting to everybody’s intelligence, letalone to our notions about how we ought to be behaving in the 21stcentury. It’s thuggism, it’s rogue state-ism. It’s the worst orderof behavior… 

Right now there is not a negotiation; there is aconfrontation. I’m sad to report I’ve never seen such a complete,miserable, unaccountable, disgraceful walk away from a set ofpromises and understandings than what has taken place. I’ve hadsix conversations with Lavrov in the last weeks. The last one wasKafka-esque, it was other planet, it was just bizarre. Nobody isbetter at telling you that red is blue and black iswhite… That’s what we are dealing with.

Lavrov has been openly lying for years, as I’ve documented many times.But Kerry has also continually acquiesced to Lavrov by either believingor pretending to believe Lavrov’s garbage. Kerry is now changing hispolicy, though I’m not sure why.

Franz Kafka was a brilliant early 1900s German novelist. His mostfamous novel was The Trial, in which a man is arrested, jailed,put on trial, convicted, and executed, and he’s never told whatthe charges against him are. This is the sort of thing thathappens in Russia and incidentally is also happening in Egyptthese days. 

In another of Kafka’s novels, The Metamorphosis, one day a man wakesup, opens his eyes, and discovers that he’s turned into a largeinsect. Daily Beast and SparkNotes and SparkNotes

Deadline expires for Kerry’s Mideast peace talks

The Mideast peace talks that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry set uplast July officially collapsed on Tuesday, as the self-imposed April29 deadline was reached. The “peace talks” were considered to be ajoke around the Mideast, as the Israelis and the Palestinians rarelyeven spoke to each other. By the end of March, the whole thing wasreduced to angry finger-pointing. John Kerry blamed Israel,suggesting that Israel is becoming an “apartheid state.” PalestinianAuthority president Mahmoud Abbas blamed the Israelis, saying: 

If we want to extend the negotiations there has to bea release of prisoners … a settlement freeze, and a discussionof maps and borders for three months, during which there must be acomplete halt to settlement activity.

And a senior Israeli official blamed the Palestinians, saying: 

The moment that Mahmoud Abbas gives up the alliancewith Hamas, a murderous organization which calls for thedestruction of the state of Israel, we will be ready to returnimmediately to the negotiating table and discuss allsubjects.

The Palestinians have indicated that they will now take unilateralsteps, including an attempted unity government between thePalestinian Authority and Hamas, and applying to dozens moreUnited Nations organizations as the State of Palestine.AFP

Russia closes the Sea of Okhotsk to Japan and China

The Sea of Okhotsk is in the northern Pacific ocean, bordering Russiaon two sides and Japan in the south. It’s estimated to hold over onebillion tons of gas and oil, as well as vast fishing grounds. The UNCommission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf confirmed Russia’spartition that the sea is sovereign Russian territory, and Russia’spresident Vladimir Putin has announced that by the end of the year,the sea will be closed to all outside shipping and fishing. 

This willclose a major fishing area to Japan and China and force them tocompete even more intensely elsewhere in the Western Pacific,raising tensions above their currently high levels. It may alsoembolden the Chinese to move even more aggressively to annex theSenkaku/Diaoyu islands, administered by Japan in the East China Sea,and to annex more portions of the islands in the South China Sea.However, China will not have a strong case in those venues, since it hasrefused to submit the case to the United Nations for arbitration, andindeed has has been taking revengeagainst the Philippines for appealing to the United Nations ArbitralTribunal. Voice of Russia and Jamestown and World Atlas

China’s ‘Maritime Silk Road’ plans threaten India in Indian Ocean

Since 2001, China has been pursuing a “String of Pearls” strategy,with ports in Gwadar (Pakistan), Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and on theeast cost of Burma in the Bay of Bengal. Since then, China hasannounced an expansion to a “Maritime Silk Road” (MSR), which involvesthe construction of ports, logistical stations, storage facilities, andfree-trade zones across the Indian Ocean all the way to Africa. 

Chinais well on its way to developing the MSR, as shown by the ongoingsearch for the Malaysian Airlines 370 plane: China has been the mostactive and engaged participant in the search effort, with over elevennaval and Coast Guard ships scouring vast tracts of the SouthernIndian Ocean. India has had no choice but to accept China’sencroachment, but will have to seek a way to hedge against China’smaritime thrust. Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (IDSA – New Delhi)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Russia, Okhotsk Sea, Japan, China,John Kerry, Israel, Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas,India, String of Pearls, Maritime Silk Road, Indian Ocean,Malaysian Airlines 370 

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