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Monday 16 April 2018

Syria Strikes Change Nothing

While MPs get ready for what could be a bruising debate for the Tory front bench, when the weekend’s intervention in Syria is debated, and Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson obtains legal advice suggesting the bombing was illegal, there is one other issue that might add some spice to proceedings. Whisper it quietly, but firing all those missiles will not stop Bashar al-Assad’s régime gassing his own people all over again.
I’ll go further: Assad and his allies will not even miss a beat. If they wanted to, they could carry on the gassing right away, but as there has been such outrage after they struck Douma, they’ll probably leave it for a few days before resuming. Why the certainty? Simples. The bombing has not affected the Syrian Government’s capability to do the gassing. You thought it had? Press reports convinced you? Think again.
Eliot Higgins - bringer of inconvenient truths

Consider the reaction of Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat fame, who has stated “Douma was, at the very least, a chlorine attack, delivered by Hip helicopters. The number of airbases and Hip helicopters damaged or destroyed in the US/French/UK airstrikes? Zero”. So all those missiles have not degraded the Syrian military’s delivery system.
There is more. “Chlorine has been used as a chemical weapon since at least 2014 in Syria, both dropped from the air and fired in surface to surface rockets. Despite dozens of these attacks, including ones verified by the OPCW, this is the first time there's been a major response to those attacks”. Bit late to start bombing now, then.
And he had this warning. “It seems unlikely attacking infrastructure and equipment unrelated to the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon will have much effect on its future use by the Syrian government”. Unrelated to the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon. How can he be so sure? We’ll come back to that one later.
His prediction as to what Assad and Co will do next? “What we'll likely see is a pause in the reports of chemical weapon use, then reports of chlorine use which, beyond the initial reports, will get mostly ignored by the media and governments until there's another, well documented, mass casualty incident”. The gassing will just carry on.
But how do they get hold of the chlorine? Again, we see Bellingcat is on the case. Yes, the Syrians did it - and the disinformation campaign fronted by the Russians isn’t making it - but as Adam Rawnsley’s analysis for the site points out, “Chlorine is a widely-used industrial chemical, after all”. And it gets delivered in cylinders, like the ones that then get thrown out of the back of those Hip helicopters that haven’t been damaged in the bombing.
Once again, our Government has sold us a pup. Our armed forces have taken part in nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt designed to prop up another bunch of what Robin Day so memorably and rightly called “Here today and gone tomorrow politicians”.

On top of all that, the demonstrably useless intervention may well have been illegal under international law. And the media wonders why folks get cynical about politics.


Anonymous said...

I get cynical about politics when allegations fly everywhere and there's no evidence of Who Did It.

Allegations are as cheap and easy as C4 "News" Frei asking a retired Russian general if he believed in the moon landings. Which made Frei look more of a cunt than the Russki.

The latest missile strikes are lethal bullshit of the worst type. Sickening even by the "standards" of violence crazed USA and their two Euro trollops.

Anonymous said...

The reports from Tom Duggan paint a very different picture to your's, so I guess it comes down to what you want to believe.

Tim Fenton said...


If you want to regard Tom Duggan as a credible source, then don't look in here.

This blog only deals in reality. That's why it links to sources like Eliot Higgins and Bellingcat.

And sort your punctuation out.

Anonymous said...

The OPCW records only the presence of chemicals. Its brief is to analyse.

Nobody has yet PROVED the allegations of who is to blame. Given Western lies about weapons of mass destruction, who is to say the same mentality wouldn't stage this horror?

Higgins makes allegations, nothing more. He wouldn't get through the door as witness in a democratic court.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why it took over 100 cruise missiles etc to trash three buildings. Unless of course many were shot down as Syria claims

Tim Fenton said...


If you want to talk crap about what Eliot Higgins does, take it elsewhere.

He already has produced plenty of evidential standard investigation - sample article here:


Away with you.

Anonymous said...

I doubt there were any other ‘sites’ even considered
Claims that the Syrians, courtesy of the Russians, knew the co-ordinates prior to the action. Probably explains the delay on the part of the US while the two big boys sorted it out.
100+ missiles and only 3, as yet reported casualties. Not a single camel killed during a well choreographed piece of theatre…or pantomime if you prefer.

Anonymous said...


You miss the point by several country miles. It isn't a question of attacking Higgins. It's a matter of analysing available evidence, including Higgins's opinions.

That article proves nothing of Who Did It. The weapons identified could have been used by both sides and could have been bought through any unscrupulous international arms dealer of whom there are many. In a civil war, including this one and especially at the date of that article, territory often overlaps and can be used by either side to launch attacks: The fog of war.

I have no doubt whatever of war crimes and atrocities. They are committed by all sides in all wars. Hence I have no doubt Assad's forces are guilty of them. But so are the other side - even the Telegraph article concedes that. Given the increasing desperation of the anti-Assad forces, who is to say they didn't stage the current unverified attack as a last desperate measure to entangle help? I'm not saying they did, just that it's entirely possible in the awful mess that is a civil war. A war which, I am willing to bet, the West bears a very large responsibility for instigating - the West has form for such right across the globe.

Meantime, I'll wait for conclusive evidence. British mainstream media has already taken to disgraceful jingoist inflammation of the situation. If Assad's forces are indeed guilty then haul the guilty parties before the International Court. But if that happens, the court is duty bound to do the same for ANY other perpetrators in the conflict. That includes Western "special forces" who might have committed such - they are, after all, trained for just such an eventuality, including shooting prisoners.

And yes, I've read the Telegraph article. Twice. It describes nothing but the terrible tragedy and horror we already knew existed. And which will continue until the West stops interfering in other people's lives.

Anonymous said...

The choice isn't just between "interfering in other people's lives" and doing nothing: as permanent members of the UNSC, the USA and UK and France have a duty to seek to de-escalate crises such as these. In 2013 they chose not to de-escalate, and instead chose to the arm the Opposition. It was claimed then that this would "stop the bodies piling up" because Assad's regime was just about to fall because the military were about to abandon him, so arming the Opposition would shorten the war. This proved to be nonsense and has in fact fuelled the conflict.

There is nothing to stop the USA and UK and France from seeking to de-escalate the war now, though it will be more difficult than it would have been in 2013. That option appears not to be even considered even though, in my view, it is one of the duties of permanent members of the UNSC.