SYRIA PLANS – AT 8:34 A.M. ET: Military intervention in Syria by the United States and other Western powers is becoming a distinct possibility. The issue is not the mass murder going on there – which would certainly be moral cause for international action – but the possible use of chemical weapons. From AP:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House and its allies are weighing military options to secure Syria’s chemical and biological weapons, after US intelligence reports show the Syrian regime may be readying those weapons and may be desperate enough to use them, US officials said Monday.
President Barack Obama, in a speech at the National Defense University on Monday, pointedly warned Syrian President Bashar Assad not to use the weapons.
“Today I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command: The world is watching,” Obama said. “The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in Prague for meetings with Czech officials, said she wouldn’t outline any specifics.
“But suffice it to say, we are certainly planning to take action if that eventuality were to occur,” Clinton said.
Options now being considered range from aerial strikes to limited raids by regional forces to secure the stockpiles, according to one current US official, and one former US official, briefed on the matter. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
The administration remains reluctant to dispatch US forces into Syria, but a US special operations training team is in neighboring Jordan, teaching troops there how to safely secure such sites together with other troops from the region, the officials said.
The warnings come after US intelligence detected signs the Syrian regime was moving the chemical weapons components around in several of Syria’s chemical weapons sites in recent days, according to a senior US defense official and a second US official speaking on Monday. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about intelligence matters.
An administration official said the trigger for US action of some kind is the use of chemical weapons, or movement with the intent to use them, or the intent to provide them to a terrorist group like Hezbollah. The US is trying to determine whether the recent movement detected in Syria falls into any of those categories, the official said. The administration official was speaking on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue.
Israeli officials have repeatedly expressed concerns that Syrian chemical weapons could slip into the hands of Hezbollah or other anti-Israel groups, or even be fired toward Israel in an act of desperation by Syria.
COMMENT: And if the regime falls, the incoming replacement could be heavily infiltrated by Al Qaeda. We can only contemplate the horror of Al Qaeda getting control of WMD.
We have waited far too long to organize international action in Syria, and this is the result. It's another example of Obama's inept leadership, or lack of leadership.
Oh, and I'd like to know if any of Syria's apparently substantial stockpile of chemical weapons was transferred to Syria from Iraq before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. There were credible reports of long convoys going from Iraq into Syria in the months preceding that war, with some respected authorities theorizing that they carried the Iraqi WMD that we later could not find in Iraq. Just asking.
December 4, 2012