Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 24, 2013

What Is The Sudden Issue With Syria?

According to the insurgency supporting Syrian Observatory 136 people have been killed two days ago by some unknown substance released during ongoing fights by unknown perpetrators in some villages east of Damascus.

Based on that Washington is now all giddy about waging open war on Syria.

A few days ago the Egyptian military killed hundred of Muslim Brothers who were protesting against a military coup against the elected government.

Washington didn't care.

And what actually makes the hundred something people killed by some unknown substance in Syria different from those killed in Syria by the 3,500 tons of weapons the CIA got from Croatia and distributed to the insurgents in Syria?

I do not think that the U.S. will in any outright way attack Syria. The unknowns for the U.S., including the potential reactions by Russia and China, are just too many and too big.

Posted by b on August 24, 2013 at 15:33 UTC | Permalink

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Jordan Times, Aug 25 (excerpts of BS)

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday met with US congressmen Duncan Hunter (R-California) and Adam Smith (D-Washington) and discussed the latest regional developments, particularly peace efforts and the repercussions of the Syrian crisis.

. . .Talks also covered developments in Syria, with His Majesty underlining the Kingdom’s stance in supporting a comprehensive political solution to the crisis, and highlighting the burdens imposed on Jordan as a result of hosting a large number of Syrian refugees.

In addition, the two sides discussed Jordanian-US cooperation and means to enhance ties at all levels. The King also thanked the US for its support to Jordan.

The congressmen commended His Majesty’s endeavours to bring about peace and stability in the region and his efforts to lead reform in Jordan.

Apparently the King's recent request for military aid ostensibly for border security and refugee relief (not domestic security problems) wasn't discussed. hah

NYTimes, Aug 14 (excerpts)

“We did not talk about direct military intervention,” [General Dempsey] said. “That actually never came up. What did come up was discussions about what we could do to help them build their capability and capacities, whether it was border surveillance and I.S.R.,” which stands for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

If Jordan were offered surveillance systems, General Dempsey said, they would be piloted airplanes, not remotely piloted drones.

Although no decisions about any aid have been made, the general said, the United States’ close partnership with Jordan probably means that more help will be forthcoming, which could include increased training for Jordanian Special Operations forces to improve their counterterrorism skills.

Actually the problem is that Syrian refugees drink too much water.
Senior Jordanian officials have expressed grave, even existential, concerns that the refugee crisis could tax the country’s infrastructure so badly — especially its desert aquifer — that civil unrest could result.

“For Jordan, it is very clearly the refugee issue,” General Dempsey said, “not only the number but the challenge that it puts on their economy and their critical infrastructure, especially commodities like food and water.”

And Assad is called a pathological liar?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 26 2013 16:38 utc | 201

201. Actually the problem is that Syrian refugees drink too much water.

There's hardly anything left in the Jordanian aquifers. It's all recent water (i.e. the last few years, and there's not much rain). The Ammonites have been drinking it like there's no tomorrow, with their western lifestyle. And Israel has been stealing water from the Yarmuk. American troops, like the F16 squadron, will be heavy consumers. I doubt that Syrian refugees get more than a few litres a day, and in spite of the complaints, they may well be not the main problem.

Jordan is a desert country with little water, and that point is being lost sight of.

Posted by: alexno | Aug 26 2013 17:06 utc | 202

All you guys going on about what Lavrov did and didn't say. One thing he did say was:

Russian FM Blasts West Over Syrian Chemical Weapons

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday slammed Western countries for suggesting the Syrian government carried out a chemical attack earlier this month, without offering convincing proof to back up these claims.

“Any reports about the use of chemical weapons in Syria must be investigated most thoroughly and professionally, and the results presented to the UN Security Council,” Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow.

“Participants of the G8 summit who renege on this agreement are de-facto trying to take on the functions of both the investigators and the Security Council,” Lavrov said. Russia failed to resolve its differences over Syria with its partners – including the US, France and Britain – at the G8 summit in June.

This is from the official ITAR/Tass news agency

Posted by: William Bowles | Aug 26 2013 17:18 utc | 203

On Jordan water.

Wiki: The National Water Carrier Project was begun in 1956 and completed in 1964; it combined all previous water projects and delivered water to the dry Mitzpe Ramon in the south. Soon after, Syria and Jordan decided to exploit and divert the Jordan water at the source. The diversion works would have reduced the installed capacity of Israel's carrier by about 35%, and Israel's overall water supply by about 11%.[6] In April 1967 Israel conducted air raids into Syria to halt this work, and two months later the Six Day War followed. The use of Jordan River's water as a vital regional resource was the cause of the war confirmed by Ariel Sharon who has said,

People generally regard June 5, 1967, as the day the Six Day War began. That is the official date, but in reality it started two and a half years earlier on the day Israel decided to act against the diversion of the Jordan River.[7]

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 26 2013 17:27 utc | 204

Russia went even further--

news report:
Russia warned the United States on Sunday against repeating past mistakes, saying that any unilateral military action in Syria would undermine efforts for peace and have a devastating impact on the security situation in the Middle East. The Russian Foreign Ministry said its statement was a response to U.S. actions to give it the option of an armed strike against Syria.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 26 2013 17:39 utc | 205

204 Don. Wiki articles regarding Israel are written by Israelis, as I think you recognise. Anyway, that is the past, Jordan has not had access to Jordan source water for many years. The issue is the Yarmuk, which is derived from Jebel Druze.

The main question is what water reaches the plateau of North Jordan. The source is rainstorms passing through the Galilee gap (Vale of Esdraelon), and depositing on North Jordan and Jebel Druze. Even in the 20th century, villages often ran out of water in the summer, and the population had to migrate. When I was in Amman in the 70s, water had to be delivered by tanker. No doubt technology has advanced since then, but there is still no more water.

What is in question is whether the refugees are really at fault.

I wouldn't be surprised if Israel ended up being obliged to deliver water to their ally Jordan. That or revolution.

Posted by: alexno | Aug 26 2013 18:03 utc | 206


Hysteria around chemical attack suits those who want military intervention in Syria - Lavrov

"Following last week’s chemical attack, the West has engineered a media campaign to facilitate a military incursion, says Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The minister also cast doubts on the veracity of US and European claims about the incident."

Posted by: William Bowles | Aug 26 2013 18:22 utc | 207

What is the sudden issue with Syria?

My guess is that it's not about Syria. However, if it is, then an Asia Times article, Germany the Re-engineered Ally by Axel Brot (the pseudonym of a retired German diplomat) published in 14 installments in August 2007, provides a wide-ranging insight into US Foreign Policy ambitions and follies. It's written in a very entertaining style, unlike the fatuous claptrap Brzezinki bores everyone to death with, and is about 53k in total. I've read it several times and doubt that I'll ever tire of doing so. It contains a multitude of focal points and thus a basis on which to measure progress or lack thereof. So even when his predictions are wide of the mark, it remains a useful barometer.

This extract is from early in Part 2: "Everything is broken" (sub-section 3) grabbed my attention the first time I read it and still bizarrely fascinating.

The tongue-in-cheek character of the "stability" rhetoric reveals itself most clearly in the hasbara about the "missile shield" installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, ostensibly directed against incipient threats from North Korea (which is in the process of denuclearizing itself) and Iran (whose threat potential against the US is as phantasmagorical as its supposed intentions are fictional). They are sold to mass media consumers as insurance against the familiar "madmen"; to the more discerning audience as not directed against Russia (and Russian complaints are sold as Russian mischief-making), and to the more worried western European insiders, in classified briefings, as a "hedge" with growth potential to dissuade the evolution of a greater than expected Russian or Chinese threat.

In reality, as even the more godfearing observers of US policies cannot help but notice, it is a provocative move designed to trap the Russians into easily denouncable, but helpless gestures of protest and to put the onus on them for burdening further the EU-Russian relationship. And Russia has no way to evade the trap: retch or spit, down it will go.

The article is Googlable by title and/or author.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 26 2013 18:55 utc | 208

What is the sudden issue with Syria?

In spite of all the fury, I wonder whether it is going to lead to military action. I could be wrong, perhaps the fury will win, but the legitimation issues will have future consequences.

There is no chance of getting a Security Council resolution. Russia will veto. I am not sure that US+Uk+France want to go to war again without legitimation.

There will also be problems with Britain: the Brits will have problems with their support, as the Conservatives are in power only due to a coalition. The LibDems would be very foolish to support such an attack. They would lose the majority of their remaining support. I am not surprised that Clegg has cancelled his visit to Afghanistan. There is an existential threat to the LibDems. So support for Cameron is in doubt.

Posted by: alexno | Aug 26 2013 19:44 utc | 209

Yeah Axel Brot opens with an Imperial 'favorite' or mine, Richard Cooper, former Whitehall advisor to Blair. I wrote about this guy back in 2003-4, when I first stumbled across his essay on 'one law for us, and another for the jungle' (since amended, now there's no law for any of us!)and about the need for "double standards" and colonial ruthlessness to beat down those darker than blue.

The Cooper essay first appeared in a London Observer article, where I came across it. You can grab it here, if you like. It's very educational reading and shows that nothing has changed since Churchill touted poison gas for those irksome Iraqi peasants.

Posted by: William Bowles | Aug 26 2013 20:23 utc | 210

Correction: It's Robert Cooper. Brot got it wrong. Here's another link if the Observer one doesn't work (it's 2002) The New Liberal Imperialism

Posted by: William Bowles | Aug 26 2013 20:30 utc | 211

Great news!

Finally zusa and its barking dog uk seem to be stupid enough to start a war with Syria that is *evidently and grossly illegal* and in their hybris and stupidity they even say quite clearly that they don't care about UN.

And Syria has the big advantage to be next to israel. zusa crippled, uk broken and humiliated and israel terminated. That'll be the outcome. What great news.

Oh, and: Lavrovs job is to play for Russia (and the civilized countries), not to please z-fukus. Just look at it like this: There are already enough countries to bark and brawl and make a lot of noise. Lavrov, the foreign minister of a real Superpower and one that values intelligence and culture, does not need to talk back to barking dogs in their language.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Aug 26 2013 20:46 utc | 212

Cooper: "The second half of the twentieth Century has seen not just the end of the balance of power but also the waning of the imperial urge: in some degree the two go together."

Cooper fails to mention the United Nations, for which a lot of people had high hopes, particularly the UN Charter provisions for peace:

To maintain international peace and security,
# All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
# All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

While most countries have observed these charter provisions, a few have not. All it takes is a few rotten apples.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 26 2013 20:55 utc | 213

Well said Mr Pragma, I can only hope you're correct in your assessment. Frankly, I've always felt that Lavrov is a serious person with some degree of acumen. The issue is, to what degree do his views impact on Putin and co?

Posted by: William Bowles | Aug 26 2013 21:04 utc | 214

It seems that I am wrong (209) and that folly is the order of the day. Limited air-strikes won't have the effect desired, as the Syrians have had some days to hide their equipment. Mainly tanks in towns.

So, a prolonged campaign. That was not what was intended, particularly as there is no UN cover. The Security Council will not vote cover, as Russia will veto.

It's a mess.

Posted by: alexno | Aug 26 2013 21:29 utc | 215

Brian @ 32 -- Re: rescue and medical personnel not wearing protective clothing.... Over the weekend, NPR interviewed a purported doctor treating victims. When he was asked about the lack of protective gear, the doctor said that the rebels are extremely courageous and thus don't fear the effects of sarin.

No response from the NPR interviewer whatsoever. None. Zero.


The propaganda MUST be catapulted, as Bush said in his day as war god. Obama seems to be using the same play book.

Also, Obama seems to think he can play a Tonkin Gulf on the US people, but, per polling mentioned, the US population is not at all interested in getting into yet another Middle Eastern war morass.

Posted by: jawbone | Aug 26 2013 23:30 utc | 216

Posted by: jawbone | Aug 26, 2013 7:30:26 PM | 216

they have faith allah will protect them!

so NPR has someone in the insurgents camp? what is he, their sternographer?

Posted by: brian | Aug 27 2013 1:32 utc | 217

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