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Will Assad surrender his chemical weapons?

US Secretary of State John Kerry is prepared to say anything in order to rally support for Barack Obama’s plans for a military attack against Syria, including outright lies. Did he not say that there were no Jihadi groups in Syria and then retract his statement and say that they constitute about one quarter of the armed opposition to the Syrian regime in Damascus?


Contrary to his nature, John Kerry was completely honest when he said that Syria could avoid a military attack if President Bashar Al-Assad surrenders his country’s chemical weapons within the next week. This means that America’s problem with Syria is not that the regime used chemical weapons to massacre hundreds of people in Ghouta in Eastern Damascus; it is concerned that Syria possesses chemical weapons that could be used against Israel in an upcoming war or should Syria face any Israeli aggression.

President Obama did not consider the killing or death of 200,000 Syrians (this is the official death count excluding those who are missing) from both sides of the confrontation to be “crossing a red line”. Instead, he views the killing of hundreds of children using chemical weapons worth sending cruise missiles, bombs and B-52s that would end up killing thousands, and maybe even hundreds of thousands of Syrians, from the regime’s supporters and opposition alike.

Secretary Kerry stated that Assad is not avoiding the military strike because he did not surrender Syria’s chemical weapons. His speech was very predictable and in its place. Why would Assad fall for this trick after he saw Saddam Hussein fall for America’s lies with his own eyes? Why would he place a noose around his own neck willingly? If he does this, he will have surrendered his country’s chemical weapons and nuclear project and placed his country at the mercy of a US military occupation.

America’s war on Iraq did not take place so that all aspects of western democracy could be exported to Iraqis; it went ahead in order to rid Israel of Iraq’s military threat. It was an aspiration for the country, its president and its people, who were well on the way to being capable of confronting Israeli aggression militarily. The creeping American war on Syria has the same goals. It will completely destroy and divide Syria and turn it into a failed state that is torn along sectarian lines so that Israelis can sleep soundly in their beds.

Just as many Arabs applauded US intervention in Iraq as a prelude to the occupation, a decision that cost them a lot of money at a high interest rate, they are now doing the same thing with Syria. They are indifferent to the disastrous consequences that will come out of burning down this region and killing millions of its people in the process. The US strike against Syria could be avoided if America stopped antagonising Arabs and Muslims by waging war in their countries. It could be avoided if the US listened to Muslim countries that oppose war and aggression and instead chose to push their governments towards confronting internal crises and economic hardship for the people.

The United States has not stopped the “Assad Motanaheb” military exercises in Jordan. The training exercises were carried out with the participation of 3,000 Jordanian soldiers in addition to forces from 17 Arab and European countries and were directed towards seizing Syria’s chemical weapons. The exercises were well under way a year and a half before the massacre in Ghouta, which proves that the plans for military intervention were not a result of current events, but were pre-determined by an exact timetable.

I do not believe US and European intelligence reports, especially after such lies about Iraq. We cannot believe them when it comes to Syria or anywhere else in the world because one should never fall for the same trick twice. A former head of British intelligence, Sir Richard Dearlove, said in an article published recently that when he visited his American counterpart George Tenet in 2002, he was told that President George W. Bush had decided to overthrow Saddam Hussein by using military force. This information only proves that intelligence agencies must provide evidence for when their political masters accuse a country of terrorism and possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Former Minister of Defence Robert Gate decided to resign over the no-fly zone that was implemented over Libya under false humanitarian grounds. He believed that it was illegal and would lead ultimately to regime change because military action does not stop until regime change has taken place. Gate was right in his assumptions and the current situation in Libya proves this.

We also cannot forget the epic tale of the Iraqi man Rafed al-Janabi who participated in the fabrication of Iraq’s chemical weapons file which was used in the then US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech to the UN Security Council on Feb 23, 2003 as a justification for military action against Iraq. Powell admitted later that his country had made a mistake and did not have sufficient evidence against Iraq and had deceived him. Meanwhile, Janabi admitted on the BBC’s Panorama programme that he had participated in the fabrication in exchange for money and political asylum in Germany. He admitted that he disregarded the fact that his decision widowed women and orphaned four million Iraqi children.

The Bush admiration invaded and occupied Iraq before allowing the honourable Swede Hans Blix to conduct a search for chemical weapons in Iraq because they knew that the country did not have such weapons. Now, the US is being aggressive towards the United Nations because it knows specifically who used such weapons in the Ghouta Massacre in Damascus.

President Assad must surrender all of Syria’s chemical weapons within a week, as per Kerry’s careful instructions, but shouldn’t it be on condition that Israel does the same thing and agrees to end its occupation of Arab land? Neither will happen. Should Assad think about surrendering his chemical weapons in order to prevent America’s return to the region, he should consider the Iraq scenario very carefully before he takes such a fateful decision.

The author is former Editor-in-Chief of Al Quds Al Arabi Newspaper in London. This article is a translation of the Arabic text which appeared in Palestine Today Newspaper on 9 September 2103

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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