The media has been alive with stories about the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. No good news there. But attempting to peel back the curtain and getting a closer look at what is going on might just be worthwhile.
The story began to roll during the third week in April when a senior Israeli military intelligence office reported that Syria had been using chemical weapons. Brig. General Itai Brun (head of Israel’s research and intelligence analysis) reported to a security conference that they had evidence that Assad had popped the cork on lethal weapons. General Brun reported Assad had used chemical weapons on a number of occasions. His report stated that the lethal nerve agent serin appeared to be the probably cause. Brun worried that a lack of action from the West could suggest that these agents are now going to be considered legitimate.
In response, two Syrian officials denied these accusations (of course they did), contending that any usage came from the rebels. Such a response has been the government’s consistent position as well as neither confirming or denying they have such weapons.
As we come down to the end of April, what can we make of this situation? We are probably observing a fishing expedition run by Assad. Syria is trolling to see what degree of response they will receive from the West while claiming their innocents. If Washington does not make any critical moves, then they can get away with the use of more chemicals. Probably, they would assume this posture regardless of any harsh Western response if they were about to topple over the edge. Some voices believe they already have their heels on the edge of the cliff anyway. The Syrian government made a harsh response by claiming America is in the same situation as it was with the invasion of Iraq. They claimed theses reports are “similar to what happened in Iraq when Colin Powell lied in the Security Council.” We could call this charge politics as usual.
Avoiding the “George-Bush-Rush-to-War” policy, the current administration has wisely refused to be pushed into action. First of all, the president knows the American people are sick of war. As difficult as it is to believe many of the politicians, it is clear that we have far from paid for the last couple of conflict. In addition, the United States now recognizes that it has severe limitations in reading the tea leaves about what is actually going on in Syria. A far more reasoned approach has already proven to be a much more sane road through the quagmire.
However, another element comes into play with the Syrian situation. The U.S. government is faced with a serious dilemma in dealing with the rebel forces. The most successful unit in their military force is the Al Nusra Front which is aligned with Al-Qaeda. Scholar studying these groups report that there are virtually no secular groups among the rebels. Their fundamental aim is to create an Islamic state run by Shariah law. Consequently, the West and pre-dominantly America are currently in a losing situation no matter what they do. Syrian rebels are angry that we hadn’t helped them earlier. If we do, they may be aiming our own guns at us.
With this situation clearly in mind, Assad must might go tip-toeing on to the battlefield again to see how much he can truly get away with. Not good.
Stay tuned. More to come.