Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 20, 2013

Media Spins Syrian Chemical Disarmament Process

This is anti-Syrian propaganda:
Syria has submitted a letter detailing of its chemical weapons to the global chemical weapons regulator but officials said the information was only part of the required details.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)said the letter had fallen short of its requirements and indefinitely postponed a Sunday meeting to discuss a Russia-US plan to destroy Syria's arsenal.
This is, more or less, reality:
"We have received part of the verification and we expect more," an OPCW spokesman said.

A U.N. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the details had been submitted, saying: "It's quite long ... and being translated."

The organization's core members are due to vote - probably next week - on a plan aimed at fast-tracking the destruction of Syria's chemical stockpiles by mid-2014.

So the "letter" in the propaganda is in reality "quite long" and still has to be translated. That takes time and is likely the reason why the OPCW meeting has been postponed for a day or two. That there are additional yet unfulfilled requirements, like detailed documentation that could not have been produced on such short notice, was to be expected and is just normal. But notice how some media are trying to spoil the process of getting rid of Syria's chemical weapons even before it really starts.

Posted by b on September 20, 2013 at 14:51 UTC | Permalink


"The organization's core members are due to vote - probably next week - on a plan aimed at fast-tracking the destruction of Syria's chemical stockpiles by mid-2014."

2014..gosh this saved obama.

Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 20 2013 14:59 utc | 1

In related news, UN nuclear meeting rejects Arab push for Israel to join weapons pact . Here's the punchline:

If adopted, Israel would have been compelled to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and place its nuclear facilities under IAEA monitoring. Diplomats had expected a close vote.

The United States said the move would endanger broader diplomatic efforts to create a Middle Zone free of weapons of mass destruction. Israel said it would severely undermine efforts to hold regional security talks.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Sep 20 2013 15:20 utc | 2

I propose that Senators McCain [I sang like a canary in Vietnam] and Graham go on a forward mission in Syria and together physically clear the chemical weapons themselves and in record time, taking as many short cuts as possible [the more the better], with McCain's bravado there is hopefully a chance we won't see them again.

Posted by: harrylaw | Sep 20 2013 16:11 utc | 3

Speaking on disarment, christ western world are pathetic..

West block resolution on Israel

Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 20 2013 16:32 utc | 4

What to expect? Here is a good reminder by CIWCL co-founder Adam Larson:

Was the Syria Chemical Weapons Probe “Torpedoed” by the West? – Global Research, May 02, 2013

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Sep 20 2013 17:03 utc | 5

All the discussion of the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons is irrelevant, as Syria is unable to do it within the time limits given. Asad says give them to others to destroy. Yes that can be done. But do it themselves will take time and money they don't have.

Posted by: alexno | Sep 20 2013 22:19 utc | 6

@3 Ha! I second that motion, harrylaw!

Posted by: Maxcrat | Sep 20 2013 23:42 utc | 7

Sharmine Narwani
Infowarriors are trying to discredit the Mint Press article that has rebels in Ghouta blaming Saudis for bringing chemical weapons into the area. The AP correspondent Dale Gavlak who co-wrote the article is trying to distance herself from it (I hear, under pressure) and has issued a denial on this blog I link to.

But look at what Dale wrote to me on August 30, the day after the article was published: "Basically I helped Yahya Ababneh, who traveled to Gouta, to write what he saw and heard. He mainly met with rebels, of course, the father of one of the rebels killed and doctors treating victims in the area. He has traveled to Syria numerous times. As you know Mint Press News is more of an advocacy journalism site and it seems to be the most likely to publish such a piece." - This last part in response to my question to her asking why she didn't publish the article on AP
here ids the post:

note this in the comments:
Econdemocracy20 September 2013 14:13
Also, whether this is a 4th question or a followup on the 1st, the mind boggles why it should take almost a month - surely if after a few days or a week if MintPress were so utterly and completely inaccurate, Gavlak could have posted on her own twitter/G+/etc. Something doesn't smell right, and I'm not talking about MintPress here, there is already a character assassination campaign against others who spoke out, like Mother Agnes, a brave and courageous woman who has criticized both sides, including the Syrian government. But her pointing at suspicious things about
rebel claims and videos, now have her attacked viciously. Human Rights Watch emergencies director Peter Bouckaert has called this woman, Mother Agnes, an "Assad propagandist" That is outrageous. She has called the Syrian government "totalitarian." To call someone who has used that word about the government a "propagandist" is not only irresponsible, it is Orwellian. What they object to is that she has also called the rebels out as being, in far more cases than the admits, also totalitarian and even worse in brutality than the government:

SO HRW is now attacking Mother Agnes!

Posted by: brian | Sep 20 2013 23:44 utc | 8

I've noticed lately a rash of articles - mostly in US right wing publications - now bringing up "Syrian biological weapons" even though they are not generally considered to have that capability on any serious scale.

This avenue of propaganda should not be disregarded.

The National Interest Online-Sep 18, 2013 - Syria's Real Threat: Biological Weapons

American Thinker (blog)-Sep 17, 2013 - Biological and conventional weapons still ok for Syria

Washington Free Beacon-by Adam Kredo-Sep 13, 2013 - John Cornyn Says Syria's Biological Weapons Also Pose Threat

The Times of Israel-Sep 15, 2013 - Assad's biological weapons absent from US-Russia deal 5, 2013 - Syria's neighbours fear biological weapons attack

The Week Magazine - Are Syria's cluster bombs and bioweapons worse than its chemical ...

Fox News-Sep 16, 2013 - US-Russia deal lets Bashar Assad keep biological weapons

Posted by: guest77 | Sep 21 2013 0:26 utc | 9

brian @8 Even published a retraction... Retraction and Apology to Our Readers for Mint Press Article on Syria Gas Attack

Posted by: CTuttle | Sep 21 2013 1:08 utc | 10

From a former Foggy Bottom whistleblower... Guilty! UN Report on Syria Does Not Say What John Kerry Says It Said

Posted by: CTuttle | Sep 21 2013 1:10 utc | 11


It is astonishing how the noise from the beating of war drums has stopped in American main stream media. I can’t stand cable TV news. I avoid the right wing push to abort government, convert taxes into user fees, and other similar beliefs.

Shortly, the US government will shut down because it exceeded the debt limit. Military contractors will not being paid. Money talks. The corporate marketing for a Middle East war is sure to ramp back up again. Americans who lost their jobs, were kicked out of their homes and now are loosing food stamps are simply not heard.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Sep 21 2013 1:16 utc | 12

There was a lot of debate on whether Syria giving up its Chemical Weapons was a strategic mistake.

Nicholas Noe from Mideastwire, who writes mainly on Hezbollah and the Resistance Axis has a good observation.

Commenting on the plan by which the regime of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is to hand in its chemical weapons, the officials said that “the era of trying to find a military balance by brandishing the issue of the chemical weapons is long gone.” They considered that “the will of the resistance is now the basis to achieving balances and is therefore the real force of deterrence in the face of any offensive.” They also indicated that “Syria is proceeding down the path of building an effective Resistance force. This will be one consequence of the ongoing war and this force will reveal its existence in due time.

This goes back to the idea that Chem Weapons were never a real battlefield advantage against Israel due to their impracticalities. But Hezbollah have already proven they can achieve deterrence without WMD's. If this trend continues we could be looking at a Syrian version of Hezbollah emerging. A lot to talk about on this front.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Sep 21 2013 1:30 utc | 13

Damn that last paragraph was not meant to be in blockquotes. The last 3 sentences were my own comment and not part of the article I linked to.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Sep 21 2013 1:32 utc | 14

Jim White at Emptywheel wrote today... Further Questions Arise on Ghouta Attack

Posted by: CTuttle | Sep 21 2013 1:32 utc | 15

The Syrian ChemWeapons are/were, as far as I know, not supposed to be an offensive battlefield weapon, but a last-ditch defensive deterrent.

Their removal would be unlikely to be such a big issue for the USrealis, (it clearly is since they have been whining about them for well over 18 mths), if it were true that they had no practical deterrent value at all, as many here claim.

Posted by: hmm | Sep 21 2013 2:03 utc | 16

Former Belgian Senate President Anne-Marie Lizin said that a small group in French intelligence may be responsible for the idea of manufacturing the chemical weapons issue in Syria.

Posted by: brian | Sep 21 2013 2:38 utc | 17

'The validity of the story was primarily based on the fact that the supposed co-author (Dale Gavlak) is a reporter for Associated Press.'

LOLOL what?! if anything an AP reporter ought to trash the validity! antiwar sees as cluelss as the PRO-war lot.

and no the report is NOT invalid: but antiwar may be.

NOTE Garris is a jewish name

Posted by: brian | Sep 21 2013 2:41 utc | 18

Posted by: CTuttle | Sep 20, 2013 9:08:25 PM | 10'

please show a bit more perspicuity

Posted by: brian | Sep 21 2013 2:43 utc | 19

Mother Agnes study:

Posted by: ben | Sep 21 2013 2:57 utc | 20

The actual truth of the matter is obvious: (1) Yahya Ababneh did the field-work and the interviews, for MPN; (2) Ababneh sent his notes to Gavlak for editing into a story, since both of them work for MPN; (3) the two of them naturally shared the byline for the final product on MPN; (4) Gavlak has now been informed by multiple employers that if she doesn’t retract, she’ll never work for them again, which I said at the time would be her penalty for writing it.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Sep 21 2013 4:49 utc | 21

Sharmine Narwani..., Posted by: brian | Sep 20, 2013 7:44:27 PM | 8
Brian, please give us the source for that Sharmine quote. It looks like her alright, and of course it is very welcome, but I need to see it at source before I can really run with it.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Sep 21 2013 5:15 utc | 22

Here's what seems to be the crux of Russia's official 'facts vs factoids' approach to contrived Yankee carelessness with the truth, about Syria.

The Ghouta chemical attack: Where are the missing children?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 21 2013 7:55 utc | 23

Basically we no not know what happened. Here is some "real" reporting from the Washington Post on Ghouta.

In more than a dozen Skype interviews, field-hospital doctors and activists in the area known as Ghouta described what they called a dire humanitarian situation, with residents struggling to survive under a continuing siege from government troops.

The comments are more enlightening than the reporting

Jack from Ottawa 2:44 AM GMT+0200 It is heart-breaking to hear of this situation.However, your correspondent fails to explain why these horrors are taking place. The area is held by such a large insurgent force that neither the government's infantry, nor its bombs nor, presumably, its chemical attack has succeeded in dislodging it. These anti-government rebels are using the civilian population as a human shield to prevent government forces from attacking effectively. Of course Assad is not deterred by such human obstacles, particularly when (as your correspondent unwittingly shows) these people are sympathetic to the insurgents. If they were not supportive of the insurgents, they would leave their area (as several million refugees have already done) and allow the government to clean out the insurgents once and for all. The real issue is whether the Free Syrian Army is holding these women and children against their will, a serious war crime equal to the chemical attack, or whether they are willingly supporting the rebels, allowing their children to die so as to pull on our heart strings - an even more serious crime in my view..

I do not agree with all the commenter says - it is not easy for poor people to flee and they are probably dependent on the charity that is in place. It does take a hell of unhumanitarian nerve though to fight in the middle of a humanitarian desaster and not enable people to flee.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 21 2013 8:27 utc | 24

(4) Gavlak has now been informed by multiple employers that if she doesn’t retract, she’ll never work for them again, which I said at the time would be her penalty for writing it.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Sep 21, 2013 12:49:15 AM | 21

yes indeed...thats shes being threatened means the story is likely correct...if i were her id use that to my advantage.

the Snarwani source is her FB page:

for confirmation...go ask her

Posted by: brian | Sep 21 2013 12:08 utc | 25

the S Narwani source is her FB page. for confirmation...go ask her. Posted by: brian | Sep 21, 2013 8:08:45 AM | 25
No, that's fine, thanks. I have a bit of a thing about Sharmine Narwani. Sometimes I think she's too good to be true. I mean, she has spent the last year on a research fellowship to St Antony's College Oxford, which is a real spook nest. I'm sure her supervisor and her sponsor there are closely in touch with MI6, directly or via a Foreign Office cutout. That's the way the Establishment works here. But Sharmine herself seems to be as pure as the driven snow. Also, she's quite pleasant to look at, judging by her photograph. Her column al al-Akhbar is still called The Sandbox, indicating in a joky way that she is happy to be seen as a big baby, but she's actually very sharp.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Sep 21 2013 13:14 utc | 26

so is this what Ghouta was? a media fabrication?

from the mouth of CNN!

Posted by: brian | Sep 21 2013 15:14 utc | 27

The sole story on Syria on the front page of Google News is from "Voice of America".

The presence of US state propaganda outlets presented as "news" is now a daily occurrence.

Posted by: guest77 | Sep 21 2013 15:29 utc | 28

Meanwhile, even the Israeli press has to acknowledge the fact that Israel built up (and therefore obviously must maintain assuming they didn't what...throw them away in a dumpster behind a grocery store in Tel Aviv?) a vast chemical and bio weapons arsenal along with their huge nuclear capabilities.

I predict the Russians will rightly bring Israel's WMD capabilities front and center of the debate over disarming Syria. This will give voice to what polls indicate are a sizable majority of Israelis who are in favor of getting rid of such weapons. Presuming the majority of citizens there are like the majority of citizens anywhere - run roughshod over by a militarist clique of wealthy scumbags.

A new poll of Israeli Jews finds that 64% favor establishing a nuclear free zone in the Middle East, even when it was spelled out that this would mean that Israel as well as Iran would give up the option of having nuclear weapons.

There are actually several surprising numbers in this poll from 2011. It was run by France24 apparently.

Posted by: guest77 | Sep 21 2013 15:50 utc | 29

Here is the model story on Syria in the most mainstream of mainstream US papers, USA Today.

Though it describes normal army operations such a were carried out daily by the US in Iraq, it is described as an assault "on a predominantly Sunni village" with the headline implying that the Syrian Army was not engaged in military activity, but was simply committing a massacre: Syrian troops storm central village, killing 15

It then goes on to quote the coventry clothier and another activist group, one story of which contains atrocities missing for the other. This discrepancy is put to bed by noting that the variance "could not be immediately reconciled". Wether they ever tried to reconcile the differences, either "immediately" or at some other point later that day - perhaps after lunch but before the afternoon spent checking out his facebook page - we cannot know..

It then describes a rebel victory, also via the clothier, in which the all the killed are described simply as "soldiers". Whether this was verified by the reporter at all, we are left to wonder, but since there was only one source for the story and no competing claims of even greater atrocities from another "activist" group - there is nothing to verify, right? Of course it would be much simpler for everyone if the varied exiled "activists" didn't try to outdo each other in tales of government violence but this ain't no socialist enterprise, this is the free market of open source intelligence. It's the competition for a mention in a rag like USA today that makes one unbelievable tall tale more outrageous than the next.

And after a brief back ground of this "increasingly sectarian" conflict, in conclusion Iran Iran Iran, Hezbollah, Iran.


These things are like form letters at this point. I almost wonder if there are some Syrian Civil War MadLibs these stenographers use to write these up.

Posted by: guest77 | Sep 21 2013 16:30 utc | 30

30) The problem is that this is cheap - just print, publish political PR stuff from the side your editorial policy favors (or activists skyping their point of view). The Main Stream Media is in a death spiral saving on quality / own reporting and losing readership as a consequence.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 21 2013 17:19 utc | 31

Assad ordered me to gas people but I could not do it
Richard Spencer, Telegraph, Sep 21 2013

Brig-Gen Zaher al-Sakat, a former CW chief in Assad's army, says he was ordered three times to use CW against his own people, but could not go through with it and replaced chemical canisters with ones containing harmless bleach. He insists that all such orders had to come from the top, Assad himself. He also claims to have his own intelligence that the Syrian president is evading the terms of a Russian-brokered deal to destroy his CW by transferring some of his stocks to Hizbollah and Iran. Sakat spoke to The Sunday Telegraph last week, his first interview with a western newspaper. As chief scientific officer in the army's fifth division, he ran CW operations in the country's southern Deraa province, where the uprising began in Mar 2011.,, (etc, etc)

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Sep 21 2013 18:25 utc | 32

I am fascinated by the easy way Asad is giving up his chemical weapons. They've delivered their report to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)on time. I'd be willing to bet it is correct (well, maybe just a very small deeply hidden reserve under Asad's bed; you can't expect everything).

The reason is obvious. They serve no function in the civil war, and surrendering them avoids a US bombardment, which would have been a disaster for Asad. As others have said (Hmmm), their function was defensive. That means to be used in the case of a catastrophic Israeli invasion.

This idea is actually quite recent. In my view probably derived from Saddam's experience in the Iraq-Iran war. Rumsfeld's visit to Baghdad, and the US supply to Saddam was in 1983, I think. The year before, in 1982, Iraq nearly lost the Iraq-Iran war. My friends in Baghdad said that the situation was very rocky, and they evacuated their equipment, which I then brought back in the autumn. Evidently, it was Saddam who launched the war in an invasion of southern Iran in 1980. They did not make much progress, and in 1982 the Iranians launched a counter-invasion of southern Iraq. The fighting was terrible, and the counter-invasion only held back by the most desperate measures, including the use of chemical weapons, and high-tension electric cables put into the water of the canals in order to fry the Iranian troops who tried to cross. The measures succeeded and Baghdad was saved, but it was close. Later the Iraqis foolishly used the chemical weapons obtained for an unimportant objective against the Kurds of Halabja.

I have no doubt that the Ba'th in Syria looked at the Iraqi experience, and thought that chemical weapons would be useful in the case of a catastrophic Israeli invasion of Syria, including a threat to Damascus. Electrocution is not on the menu, as rivers or canals don't exist in southern Syria.

Chemical weapons are not useful in the civil war, so surrendering them is no problem. True that Halabja is a comparable case, as the war against Kurds was a sort of civil war. The fall-out from that was so grave that I would think that Asad would not be keen to repeat it.

So we have a situation where Asad hurries to conform to the agreement. I am not surprised, but I think that the reaction in the US, already menacing, fails to take on board the reality. Do they really have nobody who is up to date?

Posted by: alexno | Sep 21 2013 19:37 utc | 33

'They serve no function in the civil war, '

thers no 'civil war in syria

'Fox News: One of the notions about this very serious conflict is that it’s a civil war. Would you agree with that characterization that you’re involved in a civil war?

President Assad: No, civil war should start from within the society. Civil war needs clear lines, geographical lines, social lines and sectarian lines, but we don’t have these lines in Syria. Civil war doesn’t mean to have 80 or 83 nationalities coming to fight within your countries supported by foreign countries. What we have is not a civil war; what we have is a war, but it’s a new kind of war.'

Posted by: brian | Sep 22 2013 0:00 utc | 34

Anybody remember what the real Benghazi scandal was all about...

Gas missiles 'were not sold to Syria'

... information is now circulating in the city that Russia's new "evidence" about the attack includes the dates of export of the specific rockets used and – more importantly – the countries to which they were originally sold. They were apparently manufactured in the Soviet Union in 1967 and sold by Moscow to three Arab countries, Yemen, Egypt and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's Libya... ... – Russia did not sell this particular batch of chemical munitions to Syria. {...}

The Syrians have long claimed that a substantial amount of Soviet-made weaponry has made its way from Libya into the hands of rebels in the country's civil war with the help of Qatar – which supported the Libyan rebels against Gaddafi and now pays for arms shipments to Syrian insurgents.

There is no doubt that Syria has a substantial chemical weapons armoury. Nor that Syrian stockpiles contain large amounts of sarin gas 122mm missiles. But if the Russians have indeed been able to identify the specific missile markings on fragments found in Ghouta – and if these are from munitions never exported to Syria – the Assad regime will boast its innocence has been proven.

Posted by: CTuttle | Sep 22 2013 1:57 utc | 35

another eg of abuse of power by a real dictatorship

The grand mufti of Syria planned to visit the U.S. this past summer to hold meetings with many Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders on the importance of a society based on tolerance. But the U.S. denied his visa.

Posted by: brian | Sep 22 2013 11:32 utc | 36

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