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September 08 2013

Il y a des preuves mais elles doivent rester scrètes... Chemical attacks in Syria. Where's the…

Il y a des preuves mais elles doivent rester scrètes...

Chemical attacks in Syria. Where’s the proof Assad was responsible? -

In his initial statement ten days ago about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Secretary of State was adamant about who was to blame for an attack in the suburbs of Damascus that he said killed 1,429 people, including 426 children.

“We know where the rockets were launched from, and at what time,” Sec. Kerry said, citing but not detailing intelligence reports. “We know where they landed, and when. We know rockets came only from regime-controlled areas, and went only to opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods.”
“We know that a senior regime official who knew about the attack confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime,” Kerry added.

In blasting what she called a “blatant violation of international law, a war crime and a crime against humanity,” European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also pointed a finger at Assad for the Aug. 21 chemical attack.
”[The Syrian government] is the only one that possesses chemical weapons agents and the means of their delivery in a sufficient quantity," she said Saturday.

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Some members of Congress have received classified intelligence briefings, presumably including evidence the Obama administration knows it needs to provide if it’s to win congressional authorization for the use of US military force in Syria.

But publicly, at least, the White House has yet to make its case in any detail, and its latest comments haven’t clarified things.

On Sunday, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said a “common-sense test” rather than “irrefutable, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence” makes the Syrian government responsible.

“We’ve seen the video proof of the outcome of those attacks,” Mr. McDonough said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“All of that leads to a quite strong common-sense test irrespective of the intelligence that suggests that the regime carried this out,” he said. “Now do we have a picture or do we have irrefutable beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence? This is not a court of law and intelligence does not work that way. So what we do know and what we know the common-sense test says is [Assad] is responsible for this. He should be held to account.”

Part of the problem for Obama is that showing US evidence in greater detail could reveal sources and methods of intelligence gathering – a problem all administrations have faced over the years, whether it has to do with signals gathering and code breaking, satellite photos, or spies on the ground.

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September 07 2013

Asia Times Online :: Obama dips toe in Syrian Rubicon

Asia Times Online :: Obama dips toe in Syrian Rubicon
By M K Bhadrakumar , 4 septembre 2013

A leading international authority on the subject, Professor Jack Goldsmith at the Harvard Law School (who previously served as US Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel and also as Special Counsel to the Department of Defense, apart from being a member of the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law) warned on Sunday, “There is much more here [in the proposed AUMF] than at first meets the eye.”

In a detailed commentary for the Lawfare journal, the professor wrote:

It [AUMF] authorizes the President to use any element of the US Armed Forces and any method of force. It does not contain specific limits on targets - either in terms of the identity of the targets (eg the Syrian government, Syrian rebels, Hezbollah, Iran) or the geography of the targets.

Does the proposed AUMF authorize the President to take sides in the Syrian Civil War, or to attack Syrian rebels associated with al Qaeda, or to remove Assad from power? Yes, as long as the President determines that any of these entities has a (mere) connection to the use of WMD in the Syrian civil war, and that the use of force against one of them would prevent or deter the use or proliferation of WMD within, or to and from, Syria, or protect the US or its allies (eg Israel) against the (mere) threat posed by those weapons. It is very easy to imagine the President making such determinations with regard to Assad or one or more of the rebel groups.

Does the proposed AUMF authorize the President to use force against Iran or Hezbollah, in Iran or Lebanon ? Again, yes, as long as the President determines that Iran or Hezbollah has a (mere) connection to the use of WMD in the Syrian civil war, and the use of force against Iran or Hezbollah would prevent or deter the use or proliferation of WMD within, or to and from, Syria, or protect the US or its allies (eg Israel) against the (mere) threat posed by those weapons.

The proposed Syrian AUMF is worth a lot, for it would (in sum) permit the President to use military force against any target anywhere in the world (including Iran or Lebanon) as long as the President, in his discretion, determines the target has a connection to WMD in the Syrian civil war and the use of force has the purpose of preventing or deterring (broad concepts) the use or proliferation of WMDs in, to, or from Syria, or of protecting the US and its allies from the mere threat (again, a broad concept) of use or proliferation of WMDs connected to the Syrian conflict.

Congress needs to be careful about what it authorizes. [Italics as in original text.]

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The baby and the baath water – Adam Curtis

The baby and the baath water – Adam Curtis

What is happening in Syria feels like one of the last gasps of the age of the military dictators. An old way of running the world is still desperately trying to cling to power, but the underlying feeling in the west is that somehow Assad’s archaic and cruel military rule will inevitably collapse and Syrians will move forward into a democratic age.

That may, or may not, happen, but what is extraordinary is that we have been here before. Between 1947 and 1949 an odd group of idealists and hard realists in the American government set out to intervene in Syria. Their aim was to liberate the Syrian people from a corrupt autocratic elite - and allow true democracy to flourish. They did this because they were convinced that “the Syrian people are naturally democratic” and that all that was neccessary was to get rid of the elites - and a new world of “peace and progress” would inevitably emerge.

What resulted was a disaster, and the consequences of that disaster then led, through a weird series of bloody twists and turns, to the rise to power of the Assad family and the widescale repression in Syria today.

I thought I would tell that story.

(Je référence pour les rappels historiques. Pour les remarques sur le baas de Michel Aflaq, je te laisse te faire ta propre idée.)

September 04 2013

Syrie : le scénario envisagé par le Sénat américain

Syrie : le scénario envisagé par le Sénat américain

Cette version du texte remplacerait celle envoyée au Congrès par la Maison Blanche samedi, et qui était considérée comme donnant trop de latitude au président.

Pas tout à fait selon le site Lawfare,

Lawfare › The Senate Draft AUMF for Syria is Narrower Than the Administration’s Draft, But Still Broad In Some Respects

Th[e] language is narrower than the administration’s draft.  It limits the use of force to “targets in Syria,” and has a more narrowly tailored purpose.  It would not give congressional sanction to the use of force outside of Syria (in, for example, Iran or Lebanon).  It would, however, authorize attacks on the Syrian command hierarchy in Syria, all the way up to Assad himself, as long as the President determined such attacks to be “necessary and appropriate” to respond to and deter and degrade Syrian WMDs.  (The “limited and tailored manner” qualification is not much of a restriction, since all DOD uses of force are, under the laws of war, proportionate and discriminate, and since the President is charged with determining what is necessary and appropriate in any event.)

Ground Troops “Limitation.”  Section 3 of the draft provides: “The authority granted in section 2 does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Syria for the purpose of combat operations.”

This is a limit on the authority conferred by Congress in Section 2, and not a limit on the President’s independent constitutional power to send ground troops into Syria, even for combat purposes.  Section 3 merely says that the congressional approval of the use of presidential force in Syria does not entail approval for the use of ground troops in Syria.  But it does not speak to, much less prevent, the President from using ground troops on his own authority.

Moreover, even the ground troop limitation on Congress’s authorization contains an exception for ground troops introduced into Syria for a purpose other than “combat operations.”  In other words, Sections 2 and 3 in combination affirmatively authorize the President to introduce U.S. ground troops in Syria for non-combat purposes if he thinks they are necessary and appropriate to achieve the purposes of the authorization.  Section 3 is probably written this way to capture the fact DOD Special Operations Forces are being used in Syria, or will be used there, for intelligence-related and other “preparation of the battlefield” tasks.  (I imagine, but of course do not know, that this is a nod to operational reality, since DOD has probably already sent Special Operations Forces into Syria, under the President’s Article II power, to prepare the battlefield.) It is also probably meant as a carve out for search-and-rescue missions, and the like, if necessary.

September 03 2013

» La Syrie, l'AIPAC et le New York Times|Richard Hétu

 » La Syrie, l’AIPAC et le New York Times|Richard Hétu

Hier soir, plus de 48 heures après l’annonce de la décision inattendue de Barack Obama de demander l’autorisation du Congrès avant de donner le feu vert à des frappes sur des cibles syriennes, le New York Times a publié ces deux paragraphes sur son site, comme on peut le constater dans une première version parue dans le Boston Globe :

Des responsables de l’administration disent que l’influent lobby pro-israélien AIPAC était déjà à pied d’oeuvre afin de faire la promotion d’une action militaire contre le gouvernement de M. Assad, craignant que si la Syrie échappe à un châtiment américain pour son utilisation d’armes chimiques, l’Iran pourrait être enhardie à l’avenir à attaquer Israël. À la Chambre (des représentants), le chef de la majorité (républicaine), Eric Cantor, l’unique juif républicain au Congrès, s’efforce depuis longtemps à ébranler l’appui traditionnel des démocrates auprès des juifs.

Un responsable de l’administration, qui a requis l’anonymat pour parler de la stratégie de la Maison-Blanche, a qualifié l’AIPAC de « gorille de 800 livres dans la pièce ».
Comme le relève MJ Rosenberg dans ce billet, les deux paragraphes ont disparu dans une version ultérieure publiée dans le Times. Reste à voir si la disparition des allusions à l’AIPAC relève d’une décision éditoriale du Times ou découle de pressions exercées par la Maison-Blanche ou l’AIPAC.

Quoi qu’il en soit, Barack Obama a prédit qu’il obtiendrait l’appui du Congrès ce matin avant de rencontrer les dirigeants de la Chambre à la Maison-Blanche. Il a également insisté sur la nature limitée de l’intervention éventuelle en Syrie.

« Ce n’est pas l’Irak. Ce n’est pas l’Afghanistan. Ce que nous envisageons est quelque chose de limité. C’est quelque chose de proportionné. Cela affaiblira les capacités d’Assad », a dit le président.

August 30 2013

August 27 2013

Une introduction à l'« Orient compliqué » : A Short Guide to the Middle East : letter to the editor…

Une introduction à l’« Orient compliqué » :

A Short Guide to the Middle East : letter to the editor published in the Financial Times

That whole Middle East deal sure can be confusing. Thankfully, in this concise and clearly articulated letter to the editor published in the Financial Times, Mr KN Al-Sabah, of London, lays it all out in a way anyone can understand. In full, his letter, entitled “A Short Guide to the Middle East,” read:

Sir, Iran is backing Assad. Gulf states are against Assad!
Assad is against Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood and Obama are against General Sisi.
But Gulf states are pro Sisi! Which means they are against Muslim Brotherhood!
Iran is pro Hamas, but Hamas is backing Muslim Brotherhood!
Obama is backing Muslim Brotherhood, yet Hamas is against the US!
Gulf states are pro US. But Turkey is with Gulf states against Assad; yet Turkey is pro Muslim Brotherhood against General Sisi. And General Sisi is being backed by the Gulf states!
Welcome to the Middle East and have a nice day.

#Proche-Orient #Golfe #US #géopolitique

August 25 2013

Syria, Assad, and the History of Chemical Weapons : The New Yorker

Syria, Assad, and the History of Chemical Weapons : The New Yorker

Un bon rappel,

One of the first tweets I saw about the news said that Syria now had its “Halabja”—a reference to the chemical-weapons attack on the insurgent Kurdish town of Halabja by Saddam Hussein’s military in 1988, which killed as many as five thousand civilians. At the time, Saddam was a tacit ally of the West, fighting a gruesomely bloody conflict against neighboring Iran, in an earlier version of the lethal Sunni-Shiite split which has now made Syria its central battleground. Saddam initially denied responsibility for Halabja, although it later emerged that his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid—or, as his enemies knew him, “Chemical Ali”—had carried it out, just as he had many other chemical attacks in the war from 1980 to 1988, in which as many as a million Iranians and Iraqis died. The reaction of the Reagan Administration, which had been providing Saddam’s military with information of the Iranian troop concentrations from AWACS surveillance in order to assist his missile-targeting against them, was initially to side with Saddam by suggesting that Iran had also used chemical weapons in the fighting. It was a shameful attempt at disinformation. Before long, when the facts of the attack became obvious, the U.S. position was amended.

The Halabja episode is an example of the nettlesome moral politics that arise whenever there are allegations of chemical-weapons use.

Voir aussi

Reposted byiranelection iranelection

August 21 2013

« Chemical attack » kills scores near Damascus, Syrian opposition claims

« Chemical attack » kills scores near Damascus, Syrian opposition claims

An apparent chemical attack in rebel-held districts near the Syrian capital of Damascus killed scores of people on Wednesday, wire services reported.

Ce matin, les activistes annonçaient 213 morts. Dans l’après-midi 650 mort. Désormais 1300 morts.

August 04 2013

Back to the Future for US Policy In Egypt and Syria - Vali Nasr

Back to the Future for US Policy In Egypt and Syria - Vali Nasr

The logic of Western insouciance and Arab support for the Egyptian coup is at odds with international support for the Syrian opposition, and now it looks as if it is Egypt, not Syria, that will define regional as well as international postures toward Syria.

In Egypt, Saudi Arabia stands with the military, but in Syria with the opposition. Saudi investment in Egypt now exceeds its commitment to Syria, and in Egypt, containing the Brotherhood is what matters. That imperative will trump the Saudis’ penchant for undoing Assad and diminishing Iran’s presence in the Levant. With Assad gone, Syria is likely to be ruled by the Brotherhood, and then Riyadh would face the same quandary it faced in Egypt. With the dye cast in Cairo, and the Brotherhood now an enemy of Riyadh, the Saudi position on Syria is bound to shift away from bringing down Assad to preventing the rise of the Brotherhood.

The same change in outlook is palpable in Washington. Despite President Barack Obama’s rhetoric, the United States has been more concerned with terrorism than democracy in the Middle East and does not think Islamists can or will contend with extremists in their midst. That has long been Moscow’s worry.

Je ne suis pas du tout d’accord avec cette analyse de Vasr, qui se base sur l’idée que « the containment of Islamism strategy » serait un objectif authentique des États-Unis – alors que je pense évidemment l’exact contraire –, mais je référence parce que je pense que ce genre de calculs motive de nombreux comportements dans la région et dans le monde.

July 26 2013

Daily Mail in £110k libel payout over Syrian chemical weapons story | Press Gazette

Daily Mail in £110k libel payout over Syrian chemical weapons story | Press Gazette

The Daily Mail has been forced to pay more than £100,000 in damages and apologise for a story linking a UK defence company with the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

The paper has agreed to pat £110,000 plus legal costs and carry an apology on its website after it had falsely suggested that Britam Defence and two of its directors had been willing to sell chemical weapons to rebels fighting President Assad.

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