| UNSC resolution on Syria won’t be under Chapter 7 allowing use of force – Lavrov!

UNSC resolution on Syria won’t be under Chapter 7 allowing use of force – Lavrov ~ RT.

The resolution that the UN Security Council is to adopt in support of the plan to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons won’t refer to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, regulating the use of military force on behalf of the council, Sergey Lavrov says.

The foreign minister explained Russia’s position on the future document after meeting his French counterpart Laurent Fabius in Moscow.

The resolution, Lavrov stressed, is meant only to affirm the support of the UNSC to the roadmap for destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile, which will be penned by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

It will also outline measures which fall outside of the OPCW authority, particularly providing security for the organization’s inspectors, who would oversee the process on the ground in Syria. But the resolution would not include any references to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which grants the Security Council a right to use military force to restore peace, Lavrov stressed.

“The resolution of the Security Council, which will approve the decision of the OPCW executive council, will not be over Chapter 7. We said it distinctly in Geneva and the document that we agreed on says no single word about it,” Lavrov said.

Russia has brokered a deal under which the Syrian government agreed to scrap its chemical weapons arsenal to defuse tension that sparked after a sarin gas attack on August 21. The agreement, prepared by Russia and the US, put on hold American plans to use military force against Syria over the attack, which Washington blames on Damascus.

Earlier US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Russia is committed to imposing Chapter 7 measures in case of Syria’s non-compliance with its obligation to destroy its chemical weapons. Lavrov explained that the Security Council would be closely monitoring OPCW’s mission in Syria and will take action, if it finds concrete proof that some party is actively undermining the process.

The UNSC would act on such occurrences, which may be Syria drawing away from the deal, some other party hampering the destruction or possibly somebody using chemical weapons again, Lavrov said. But such actions will be considered on a separate basis.

“The Security Council would certainly review [any of such reports] to establish the truth as soon as possible, to ensure that those reports are not provocations – and we had plenty of those in the past two years and all of them were aimed at provoking a foreign intervention. If the proof is convincing, the Security Council certainly must take measures against violators,” the minister said.

As for the future resolution on dismantling Syria’s chemical arsenal, it would be a litmus test for the UNSC, Lavrov said.

“We may grab on to Chapter 7 every time somebody claims that the regime or the opposition used chemical weapons and encourage playing on emotions, which is unacceptable when taking serious decisions. Or we may rely on professionals, who must evaluate thoroughly, impartially and objectively every piece of such information and report to the Security Council,” he said.

Russia asks West not to encourage belligerent opposition

The Russian and French ministers said they agreed that the goal of the international community now is to gather an international conference in Geneva, which would find a political solution of the crisis and establish a transitional government in Syria.

Lavrov said Moscow is prepared to set a date for such a conference anytime, because the Assad government had agreed to it and presented its delegation. It is the opposition which is dragging its feet and refuses to participate, he stressed.

“The [opposition] National Coalition vocally opposed the Russian-American plan to destroy Syrian chemical weapons… because they were expecting that the problem would be solved through a military intervention. And they were disappointed after the intervention failed to materialize and the issue went to the strictly diplomatically-legal framework,” Lavrov pointed out.

He asked the Western backers of the Syrian opposition, who have leverage on them, to use it and force those forces to participate in the peace conference. He also added that some statements from Russia’s partners regarding personalities in the Syrian government do not help with that goal.

“The more often and louder statements from some capitals, including Washington, European and Middle-Eastern countries come saying that Assad is a criminal and that he has no place on Earth other than at The Hague Tribunal, the more defiant becomes this coalition, which claims the right to represent the entire Syrian people,” he explained.

Kerry insisted that Syria’s future has no place for Bashar Assad on Monday, following his meeting with Fabius and British Foreign Secretary William Hague. He added that Washington expects Assad’s stepping down to be part of a future political resolution agreed on in Geneva. Russia insists that it is up to Syrians to decide the terms of the transition.

Report of contention

Lavrov and Fabian met a day after the UN released a report on the incident, which confirmed that chemical weapons were indeed used on that day in Syria. The inspectors behind the report were not authorized to name a suspected culprit in the attack, and the evidence they presented is now subject to conflicting interpretations.

Several countries, including the US and France, believe the evidence is unquestionably identifies the government of Bashar Assad as the party that carried out the attack. The French minister reiterated Paris’ position in Moscow, adding that French intelligence data points to that conclusion.

Russia insists that the evidence is not conclusive and says the report should be considered along with other information, including accounts from local witnesses and media reports, which indicate that the attack had been carried out by the rebels.

“We asked questions at the Security Council meeting we had after hearing the report findings. The report doesn’t explain whether the munitions used in the attack was produced at a factory or was home-made. It doesn’t answer our other questions. So the document needs careful study in conjunction with other evidence currently available online and in the media,” Lavrov said.

He added Moscow has good reasons to treat the incident as a rebel provocation aimed at drawing the US military into the Syrian conflict.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius have a meeting in the Russian Foreign Ministry's mansion (RIA Novosti / Eduard Pesov)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius have a meeting in the Russian Foreign Ministry’s mansion (RIA Novosti / Eduard Pesov)


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| The New Truthers: Americans who deny Syria used Chemical Weapons!

The New Truthers: Americans Who Deny Syria Used Chemical Weapons ~ MUHAMMAD IDREES AHMAD, THE NEW REPUBLIC.

Eager to forestall a U.S. intervention, Bashar al-Assad has agreed to relinquish his stockpile of chemical weapons—a stockpile that, until this week, he denied even possessing. But Syria’s president continues to deny—as he did in a recent interview with Charlie Rose—that he used such weapons on civilians in an Aug. 21 attack in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta. That’s less surprising than the people who believe him, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary: countless Americans, including public figures from across the political spectrum who—out of opposition to war in general, or to President Barack Obama specifically—eagerly believe and spread misinformation. Call them chemical-weapons truthers.

One such group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), which is comprised by former spooks and diplomats, last week wrote an open letter to Obama warning that he might be led by dubious intelligence into intervening in Syria. They claimed to have learned from “former co-workers” that “the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21.”

If true, this would be devastating to the Obama’s credibility. But skepticism of intelligence agencies notwithstanding, not everyone is likely to be swayed by the claims of anonymous informants. After all, the VIPS are also contradicting the considered judgment of the British, French and German intelligence—not to mention respected independent analysts like Eliot Higgins. Even the cautious-to-a-fault Human Rights Watch has confirmed the regime’s culpability in August’s sarin gas attack.

VIPS insists its detailed account of the attack came from “a growing body of evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East.” These have confirmed, they say, that the “chemical incident was a pre-planned provocation by the Syrian opposition and its Saudi and Turkish supporters.” Based on “some reports,” they allege, “canisters containing chemical agent were brought into a suburb of Damascus, where they were then opened.”  They forcefully reject the notion that “a Syrian military rocket capable of carrying a chemical agent was fired into the area.”

I asked three of the signatories about their sources. They proved curiously evasive. But one VIPS member, Philip Giraldi, has since published an article in The American Conservative—and the reason for their hesitation has become obvious. The sources for VIPS’ most sensational claims, it turns out, are Canadian eccentric Michel Chossudovsky’s conspiracy site Global Research and far-right shock-jock Alex Jones’sInfowars. The specific article that Giraldi references carries the intriguing headline “Did the White House Help Plan the Syrian Chemical Attack?” (His answer, in case you wondered, is yes.) The author is one Yossef Bodansky—an Israeli-American supporter of Assad’s uncle Rifaat, who led the 1982 massacre in Hama. Bodansky’s theory was widely circulated after an endorsement from Rush Limbaugh. A whole paragraph from Bodansky’s article makes it into the VIPS letter intact, with only a flourish added at the end.

Giraldi references two more articles to substantiate his claim: one from Infowars and another from DailyKos. But both reference the same source, an obscure website called Mint Press which published an article claiming that Syrian rebels had accidentally set off a canister of Sarin supplied to them by the Saudis. The idea that an accident in one place would cause over a thousand deaths in 12 separate locations—with none affected in areas in between—somehow did not strike this intelligence veteran as implausible. But to its credit, Mint Press has since added a disclaimer: “Some information in this article could not be independently verified.”

What of VIPS’s “numerous sources in the Middle East,” then? It turns out they’re the same as Bodansky’s “numerous sources in the Middle East”—the sentence is plagiarized.

None of this has prevented the letter from finding a larger audience among opponents of U.S. involvement in Syria. Michael Moore has posted it on his website. The far-rightWorld Net Daily has given it favorable coverage. And Pamela Geller is promoting its claims. What the letter lacks in verifiable sources, it makes up for in its ideological serviceability.

The VIPS letter may be exceptional in its shoddiness, but it’s part of a broader gullibility. In an article for The Huffington Post last week, former Congressman Dennis Kucinich also cast doubt on the regime’s use of chemical weapons and suggested that the administration had dismissed “reports of rebel use of chemical weapons.” Among the sources he cites is Eliot Higgins’s Brown Moses blog, but Higgins is unequivocalthat no entity other the regime could have carried out the attack. The only thing Higgins withholds judgment on is whether the munitions used were military-grade chemical weapons—a moot point, since even the Assad regime no longer denies such weapons were used, but only who used them. Kucinich also cites Global Research in reprising a claim, long since discredited, that the United Nations accused Syrian rebels of using chemical weapons. That rumor originated with a controversial Swiss memberof the U.N. independent commission of inquiry, Carla del Ponte, who suggested in May that Assad’s opponents had used chemical weapons. The U.N. swiftly distanced itself from her statements and made clear that its inquiry had “not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict.”

This is not the first time critics of U.S. foreign policy have denied the Syrian regime’s atrocities. One of the major promoters of the Mint Press article was the liberal media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), which, more than a year before Ghouta, had used another dubious source to exculpate the Assad regime for the massacre in Houla. The facts of the incident were clear: The town was besieged by the regime; it was under artillery assault before and after the massacre; the barrage relented only long enough to let the perpetrators enter the town and carry out the killing. The U.N. visited Houla a day after the atrocity and an accompanying Channel 4 team interviewed survivors on camera. Three days later, Human Rights Watch pointed its finger at the regime. There was little doubt about the attack’s authorship.

Yet, after a single story appeared in the conservative German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung alleging that those killed were Alawite regime supporters and that the perpetrators were besieged Sunni rebels, the far right and left ran with the story. After first making an appearance on the National Review website, it was picked up by the UK’s eccentric Media Lens; from there, it made it onto a FAIR “media alert” and eventually to Pamela Geller’s blog. The implausibility of the story, its complete reliance on anonymous sources, and the German journalist Rainer Herman’s subsequent admission that he had never been to Houla did not prevent it from becoming a news meme. In Britain, it was referenced both by Emmy- and BAFTA-winning documentary filmmaker John Pilger and Guardian senior editor Seumas Milne to exonerate the regime or to cast doubt on its responsibility.

The conspiracy theory was finally laid to rest last month after the UN completed its extensive investigation confirming the regime’s guilt. None of its purveyors apologized.

This tendency to shift blame away from Assad has even infected otherwise sophisticated thinkers like David Bromwich, a literature professor at Yale. In an article last week for The Huffington Post, after questioning the reported number of dead in the Ghouta attack, and whether the munitions used were indeed chemical weapons, Bromwich advises Congress to ask Obama:

Whether the entry into Syria on August 17 and 19 of US-trained guerrilla forces of the Free Syrian Army, numbering more than 300 — and the passage of those forces through Ghouta about the time of the chemical attack, as documented in the Jerusalem Post on August 23 — did, or did not, make them targets of the attack; and if not, what information about the activity of the forces leads to this conclusion.

The implied question: If 300 FSA fighters were passing through Ghouta, then was the regime not justified in gassing the neighborhoods?

There are perfectly good arguments for opposing military intervention—and some have been made persuasively, on moral or national interest grounds. There are also good reasons to be skeptical of humanitarian conceits that might be used to justify intervention. But there is more than a fine line between skepticism and cynicism—and not even the otherwise noble concern with preventing war, or the less-noble determination to oppose a president regardless of policy, justifies excusing the Assad regime’s well-documented crimes. While war must always be an option of last resort, and it is right to be concerned about its unforeseen consequences (as long as one is mindful that inaction too has consequences), the national debate over whether to wage it in Syria is not helped by spreading ideologically driven lies.

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad is a U.K.-based writer with a doctorate in sociology. He is the author of the forthcoming The Road to Jerusalem (Edinburgh University Press).


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| False flag: Now international experts debunk fake Syria CW victim pics!

Intl experts have strong proof images of chemical victims fabricated – Moscow ~ RT.

Footage and photos of the alleged chemical attack in Syria, which the US cites as the reason for a planned military intervention, had been fabricated in advance, speakers told a UN human rights conference in Geneva.

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Members of the conference were presented accounts of international experts, Syrian public figures and Russian news reporters covering the Syrian conflict, which back Russia’s opposition to the US plans, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The speakers argued that the suspected sarin gas attack near Damascus on August 21 was likely a provocation of the rebel forces and that a military action against the President Bashar Assad government will likely result in civilian casualties and a humanitarian catastrophe affecting the entire region.

The possible attack by US military without a UN Security Council mandate would violate international law and should be prevented by the United Nations, some of the speakers said.

Evidence for the Russian case, including numerous eyewitness reports and results of investigations of the chemical weapon incident by activists, was handed over to a UN commission of experts probing the Syrian crisis, the ministry said.

The Obama administration voiced an intention to use military force in Syria after reports of mass deaths in Eastern Houla, a neighborhood of Damascus, which killed more than 1,400 people according to US estimates. Washington says the deaths was due to a chemical weapons attack of the Syrian army on rebel forces and says it plans to use force to prevent such incidents in the future.


A view shows bodies of people activists say were killed by nerve gas in Damascus' suburbs of Zamalka August 21, 2013.(Reuters / Hadi Almonajed)A view shows bodies of people activists say were killed by nerve gas in Damascus’ suburbs of Zamalka August 21, 2013.(Reuters / Hadi Almonajed)


Russia is convinced that the chemical incident was a provocation by rebel forces, which staged a false flag attack to drag the US into the conflict and capitalize on the damage that the Syrian army is likely to sustain in the American intervention.

An increasing number of reports is backing Russia’s position, with local witnesses, US and British former intelligence professionals and Europeans recently released from rebel captivity all speaking for a provocation scenario.

In the latest development this week a possible way to de-escalate the tension was voiced, which would involve the Assad government handing over control of his chemical arsenal to the international community. The plan was backed by Russia, China and Syria’s main ally Iran, while Syria said it will review it.

Mixed signals over the plan came from the US. The US State Department initially said Secretary of State John Kerry, who initially voiced a possible disarmament, saw it as a rhetorical move and didn’t expect Bashar Assad to actually disarm. But later President Obama said such a move from Damascus would make him put the military action plan on pause.

Meanwhile RT learned that Syrian rebels might be planning a chemical weapons attack in Israel. The possible attack would be carried out from the territory supposedly controlled by the Syrian government and would trigger another round of escalation, leaving little hope of defusing the tension.

Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows people inspecting bodies of children and adults laying on the ground as Syrian rebels claim they were killed in a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21, 2013.(AFP Photo / Shaam News Network)

Syrian opposition’s Shaam News Network shows people inspecting bodies of children and adults laying on the ground as Syrian rebels claim they were killed in a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21, 2013.(AFP Photo / Shaam News Network)


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