November 14, 2013

Updates On Syria: CIA Dissent About Ghouta Chemical Attack Was Suppressed, Hezbollah Promises To Stay In Syria, Destruction of Syria's CW Is On Track

An excerpt from, "Fixing Intel Around the Syria Policy" by Robert Parry, Consortiumnews, November 14:
After the Aug. 21 chemical weapons incident in Syria, a number of senior U.S. intelligence analysts disagreed with the Obama administration’s rush to judgment blaming the Syrian government, but their dissent on this question of war or peace was concealed from the American people.

The administration kept the dissent secret by circumventing the normal intelligence process and issuing on Aug. 30 something called a “Government Assessment,” posted at the White House press office’s Web site and fingering the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad as the guilty party.

Normally, such an important issue – a possible U.S. military engagement – would be the focus of a National Intelligence Estimate, but that would also cite the disagreements expressed within the intelligence community. By avoiding an NIE, the Obama administration was able to keep the lid on how much dissent there was over the Assad-did-it conclusion.
An excerpt from, "Hezbollah will keep fighting in Syria war, says Nasrallah" by Sara Hussein, AFP, November 14:
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah vowed on Thursday to keep his forces in Syria fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad's regime, in a rare public speech delivered in Beirut.

Nasrallah, who normally appears via video link for fear of assassination by Israel, spoke in Hezbollah's south Beirut stronghold as tens of thousands of followers of his Shiite militant group marked Ashura, one of the holiest days of their faith.

"We have said on several occasions that the presence of our soldiers on Syrian soil is to defend... Syria, which supports the resistance" against Israel, Nasrallah said.

"So long as that reason exists, our presence there is justified.

"Those who speak of our withdrawal from Syria as a condition to form a government in Lebanon know that it is an impossible condition.

"We won't negotiate on the existence of Syria (in exchange for) a handful of ministries."
An excerpt from, "How to Destroy a Stockpile of Chemical Weapons" by Patrick Di Justo, The New Yorker, November 13:
The first phase of the multifaceted plan to relieve Syria of its chemical weapons went surprisingly smoothly: the regime of Bashar al-Assad not only dismantled its manufacturing facilities, it did so slightly ahead of schedule. This was regarded by the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which recently won the Nobel Peace Prize, as a sign of Syria’s willingness to live up to the rest of its promises. But a document leaked last week revealed that the original mid-2014 deadline for destroying all of Syria’s chemical weapons—thought to consist of over a thousand metric tons of mustard, sarin, and VX gases and their precursors—will likely be missed. A final plan detailing the elimination process is due on Friday, but the next steps for Syria’s stockpile will likely involve moving its chemicals to another country, where the O.P.C.W. will oversee use of a new U.S.-developed, semi-mobile facility to neutralize the chemicals.