Deja vu in Syria

9 Apr

Writing on Sunday, April 8 in What’s Left, Stephen Gowans offers eight reasons for extreme scepticism about yet another allegation of Damascus having used, for reasons inexplicable, chemical weapons on its own citizens late on April 7. See his full text here.

Below is a summary of his points, but first a warning. Claims of war crimes are routinely made against Damascus and form casus belli  – as had their equivalents in Libya and (once the WMD pretext was given the lie) as post hoc justifier for the million murdered in our name in Iraq.

Moreover, if responsibility lies with the terrorists who, unlike the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), have a potent motive – as well as access to sarin – the uncritical but widespread acceptance of such claims by a slumbering public increases the likelihood not only of further Western aggression but of further false flag attacks.

In sum, those who propagate such claims without due investigation bear a heavy responsibility: some might even say blood on their hands. Nuff said. Here are Gowans’ points:

  1. The reports from Homs are “unverified”, according to Wall Street Journal and British Foreign Office, “unconfirmed” according to the US State Department.
  2. Wall Street Journal says it isn’t “clear who carried out the attack” (if there was one).
  3. The “unverified photos and videos” come from White Helmets and Syrian American Medical Society, both funded (though White Helmets lied about this) by Western states seeking regime change in Syria. Both too are active only in ‘rebel’ areas.
  4. Deep state pressure on Trump? The New York Times notes that “A new confirmed chemical attack in Syria would pose a dilemma for President Trump, who … recently said he wants to get the United States out of Syria.”
  5. Such an attack would be politically senseless. The SAA is on the verge of victory in Eastern Ghouta. Why hand the US a pretext to prolong its unlawful occupation?
  6. Such an attack would be militarily senseless. The SAA has weapons more lethal than chemical agents, whose effects are unpredictable and small scale. In every alleged chemical attack in Syria, claimed body counts are smaller than those of air strikes.
  7. Syria cooperated with the UN’s OPCW to eliminate them five years ago.1
  8. Allegations of chemical warfare are routinely made.2 Through sheer repetition, and at best muted reporting of their subsequent failure to meet evidential standards, they assume the status of incontestable truth in the eyes of a duped Western public.


  1. On this point I part company with Gowans. In 2013 Damascus, to the satisfaction of the UN’s OPCW, did indeed destroy its chemical weapons to leave Israel as the only regional power still in possession of them. But sarin is not as difficult to make as dull-witted journalists have parroted. While this leaves open the possibility of Damascus – again, for reasons inexplicable – having manufactured more since 2013, it also opens a barn door on the more plausible scenario of Daesh doing so.
  2. In my reply to Caroline’s comment below, I cite Caitlin Johnston on why chemical weapons might be the allegation of choice by a West seeking regime change.

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