Skip to comments.The Red Line and the Rat Line (Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels)
Posted on 04/13/2014 1:03:03 PM PDT by Abiotic
In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the red line he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons.＊ Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assads offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.
Obamas change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didnt match the batches known to exist in the Syrian armys chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldnt hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syrias infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.
For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syrias neighbours, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. We knew there were some in the Turkish government, a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, who believed they could get Assads nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.
The joint chiefs also knew that the Obama administrations public claims that only the Syrian army had access to sarin were wrong. The American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons. On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page talking points briefing for the DIAs deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaidas pre-9/11 effort. (According to a Defense Department consultant, US intelligence has long known that al-Qaida experimented with chemical weapons, and has a video of one of its gas experiments with dogs.) The DIA paper went on: Previous IC [intelligence community] focus had been almost entirely on Syrian CW [chemical weapons] stockpiles; now we see ANF attempting to make its own CW
Al-Nusrah Fronts relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the groups CW aspirations will be difficult to disrupt in the future. The paper drew on classified intelligence from numerous agencies: Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators, it said, were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria. (Asked about the DIA paper, a spokesperson for the director of national intelligence said: No such paper was ever requested or produced by intelligence community analysts.) (snip)
I encourage everyone to read this article for yourself. The coverage of this piece in US media has been to focus on the most shocking allegation, that the “Sarin attack” in Syria was some kind of false flag operation. Apparently, many senior people in the intelligence and military communities think that or at least that it’s a strong possibility. That’s been clear since August as anyone who actually listened to what the professional, government sponsored analysts and experts in the US and EU as opposed to what the politicians were saying.
But that’s nothing new. The heart of this scoop is about the “rat line,” the CIA’s supply line to the rebels who are fighting along side of al-Qaeda and sharing weapons with them.
Those rat lines, also, go back to the violent, dark mystery of Benghazi.