18.02.2014 Author: Janet Phelan

US Policy on Syria regresses to its original track

Britain_Syria-protestThe US is again positioning itself to attack Syria. The initial response by President Obama to the alleged gas attack in Damascus on August 21, 2013 was to authorize a targeted military strike against the war torn country.

The ostensible reason to attack Syria, as it turned out, was full of holes. Hacked emails from a recently retired Colonel in the US Army, Anthony MacDonald, to a Defense Department civilian employee, Eugene Furst, as well as emails between MacDonald and an employee with a defense contractor, pointed to possible US military and/or contractor involvement in the alleged gas attack. Further hacked emails between MacDonald’s wife and a friend raise questions as to whether or not the alleged attack was staged, “for the cameras,” as Jennifer MacDonald wrote to her friend, Mary Shapiro.

In the MacDonald/Furst exchange, we see Furst congratulating MacDonald on August 22, 2013, referencing the gas attack:

        “By the way, saw your latest success, my congratulations. Good job

On the same date, MacDonald replied:

“As you see I’m far from this now, but I know our guys did their best.

I enjoyed catching-up with you. Hope to see you soon again.”

The response from the Army was swift and frankly, inconclusive. When contacted in September, Army press affairs officer Lt Col Donald Peters, stated that the matter of the hacked emails was “under investigation” and therefore no further response could be supplied at that time.

As it turns out, the MacDonald cache of emails were not investigated. According to Peters just this past week,  “Army did not investigate the faked email, as COL MacDonald had already retired.”

As it emerged, Peters was attempting to mislead this reporter as to MacDonald’s employment with the military. In fact, MacDonald retired from his position as Colonel in August and went to work for the Department of the Army as a Supervisory Intelligence Specialist. When confronted with this fact, Peters reversed his initial answer and declared that the “Army declined to comment on this matter.”

Peters was also queried about his comment concerning the “faked email” and admitted that was his personal opinion.

Putin’s intervention in the Syria situation clearly derailed Obama’s war whoop. But now, six months later, the Obama administration is expressing profound dissatisfaction with the Putin solution—to fold Syria into the international Chemical Weapons Convention and require the destruction of Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons.

According to statements attributed to Secretary of State John Kerry, as widely reported this past week, Obama’s Syria policy is failing and it is time to change the strategy.

In other words, Syria has not destroyed its weapons in a scant six months. Syria has responded to this allegation by stating that efforts to move its weapons across the besieged country to the designated location have been derailed by rebel attacks.

Kerry’s position here can be described as a classic “Do what I say, not what I do.” The Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force in April of 1997. All involved countries were to destroy their chemical weapons within ten years, according to the treaty mandate.

Did the United States comply? Absolutely not.

When the US failed to destroy its weapons cache, it was granted an extension. 2012 was generously given as a new deadline for the US.

Did the US comply? No, and according to the US, it will be unable to comply with the treaty mandate until 2023.

The United States has, by its own report, about 3000 tons left of various chemical weapons. And by its own report, cannot manage to honor its international treaty agreement—at least not for some time yet.

According to estimates, Syria has about 1300 tons of chemical weapons. How does the US figure that it can demand an extension and Syria, which was given less than a year to destroy its 1300 tons, must comply with a date which the US would never be able to achieve?

Janet C. Phelan, investigative journalist and human rights defender that has traveled pretty extensively over the Asian region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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