I have watched many reports on the chemical attack in Syria. The U.S. says it knows now, without a doubt, that Syrian President Bashir al-Assad is responsible for the attacks on his own people. However, the world, including the U.N. and Russian President Vladimir Putin, wants to see valid proof before any military action is taken. American arrogance proposes that the word of government officials should suffice, with proof hidden behind the “classified” curtain.
American prosecutors can’t convict a petty thief without presenting the facts against the assailant to the judge and jury. Can Obama, or Congress, take military action against al-Assad without bearing the same burden?
There is another side of this story that isn’t publicized. The rebel forces in Gouta, a suburb of Damascus, say they had possession of chemical weapons, supplied, they said, by Saudi intelligence and released accidentally.
Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel who lived in Ghouta and was fighting to overthrow Assad when he was killed by the chemical release, said his son and 12 others were killed in a storage tunnel used to hide weapons provided by Saudi militant Abu Ayesha, who leads a battalion of rebels. Abdel-Moneim said some weapons had a tube-like structure while others were like a huge gas bottle.
“My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” Abdel-Moneim said.
According to the same report, a female rebel, “K,” supported Abdel-Moneim’s comments by saying: “they didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them. We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons. When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them.”
“J,” a well-known rebel leader in Ghouta, agreed, and stated, “Jabhat al-Nusra militants do not cooperate with other rebels, except with fighting on the ground. They do not share secret information. They merely used some ordinary rebels to carry and operate this material.”
“J” went on to say: “We were very curious about these arms and unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions.”
The people of Ghouta said the rebels hid in private homes and mosques while the weapons were stored in tunnels.
Later in the day, after the alleged attack by al-Assad, the militant group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is linked to al-Qaida, said it would similarly attack civilians in the Assad regime’s heartland of Latakia on the Syrian western edge, in retaliation.
This is a single report ignored by the American government while they point their finger at al-Assad without exposing the sure-fire evidence they claim they have against the Syrian President.
President Obama claims he cannot declassify the classified evidence because it would expose certain intelligence operations.
Lives are at stake. Committing to holding to 60 days with a 30-day rider, just in case we need more time, to bomb the al-Assad regime, is too much rope to give Obama. There should be no strike against Syria without concrete and open evidence.
Military action would not raise so many national and international objections if it was an honest act of policing and protecting people against chemical warfare done with total transparency. Putin is not against use of force in Syria, as reported on local media; he is against military action without definite proof that his ally, al-Assad, is responsible.
If Obama is telling the truth, he needs to expose the evidence to the international community.
If the Saudis are supplying chemical weapons, where does that put America? What can U.S. intelligence tell us about that? It would probably remain classified, but global security should trump national interests.
Wouldn’t we be surprised to find the terrorists who have helped maintain the Syrian civil unrest responsible for the chemical weapons? Would it surprise us to learn that the Saudis are funding the rebels? Would we believe that if the American-allied Saudis were funding the rebel forces against al-Assad, American hands would be clean? Would we expose our ally or would we hide the information and side with the rebels to overthrow a regime we don’t like? Would we join in to rob al-Assad of his power because that’s what we want, or would we do the right thing: evacuate the innocent, join forces with Russia, and bomb the hell out of the guilty, be it al-Quida, Jabhat al-Nusra, the common rebel freedom fighters who claim to be fed the chemical weapons by the Saudis, or the Saudis themselves, if that’s where the guilt lies? Allies or not, I would be ashamed if America closed its eyes to such horrendous acts by a country we support and call our friends. What statement would that make to the world?
Until we declassify and show the world our evidence, we have no business playing in the field. Russia will retaliate, at least diplomatically. The 30 to 60-day window for missile launches will come with consequences that we may not be willing to take. The “no boots on the ground” policy can change in the face of the retaliation we will suffer.
Russia is not going to stand mute while the U.S. violates another international law, nor should it.
If you can’t play fair, don’t play at all.