Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Don't Fear ISIS Chemical Weapons Part 2

On Friday I wrote about the article in Foreign Policy about the ISIS laptop with the chemical weapons documents.  The article was mostly scare journalism for several reaons.
  • ISIS is currently killing plenty of people just with guns and bombs, although there is increasing evidence of sophisticated weapons including possible allegations of cluster bombs falling into the control of ISIS, as well as the very public capture of some heavy conventional wepaons left behind at the Tabqa airbase. (for more great reporting on the Syrian Civil War see the work of Brown Moses at Bellingcat)
  • chemical weapons are hard to produce and use
  • Syria's stockpiles pose a larger threat, yet we are currently fighting on the same side.
The West has its own history of chemical weapons use and support, most notably in Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war.  We supplied Saddam with chemical weapons despite our knowing that both sides were using chemcial weapons.  Saddam later used them against Kurds in Halabja.  Last year survivors of the attack sued Western companies that supplied Saddam with the chemicals.

We even took Saddam off the list of state sponsors of terrorism in order to give him chemical weapons.  I wonder who has America on a list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Syria has offered to help, and the US has at least mentioned that the coalition could include Syria, as General Martin Dempsey said
U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believed Syria and the U.S. will be joined in by key allies in the region, such as Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, in stopping the madmen ISIS jihadists.
"I think ISIS has been so brutal, and has wrapped itself in a radical religious legitimacy that clearly threatens everybody I just mentioned, that I think they will be willing partners," CBC quoted Dempsey.
IS is currently executing dozens in cities all across Iraq, and has also been in control of areas of Syria for more than a year, but they are shooting people and beheading many individuals and small groups, most notably American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as
  • a Peshmerga soldier Hassan Mohamed Hashin, part of a larger group of captured Peshmerga, as well as the Syrian soldiers captured and massacred by gunfire who we saw marching in the desert in their underwear before they were killed.
  • Christians and children in Mosul as well as burying them alive.
ISIS is bringing plenty of death as the UN considers it eligible for war crimes charges, but it is not through chemical weapons.  As the West tries to fight ISIS however, we are
A search on Twitter for "PKK ISIS" shows different views of the situation, many have pictures of the female fighters, others have stories of how scared ISIS is of female warriors, there is the hashtag , while still others (mostly in Turkey) are warning the West of the dangers of arming the PKK.

So far these are the countries sending arms to the Kurds
Albania, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Italy and Britain have committed to sending arms and equipment to the Kurds, Mr. Hagel said
despite many warnings from our allies against arming a group designated as a terrorist group, as well as our history of arming one group against a current enemy, only to have the group we armed come back and attack us later.   

As I mentioned above with Syria, the US and its western allies are forming an odd coalition against the current group to fill the role of the Planners of the "next 9/11" and the Worst Enemy Since Hitler.

We are currently allied with the above mentioned Kurdish "terrorist" PKK, as well as a fluid coalition that is forming, some willing and others unwilling to cooperate fully with military troops or arms shipments to allies on the ground fighting ISIS.

The list so far includes Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Britain, France, Australia and Germany.

Whether or not the US government accepts this offer, Syria could be a willing partner in the fight against ISIS as I mentioned above.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem said this week that his country was ready and willing to work with the international community, but warned the U.S. that any intervention should first be approved by his government.
The article in Foreign Policy bothers me because as I wrote earlier, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have been trying since before 9/11 to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, or at least make people believe they can, to make people afraid.  So to combat the grouo that is the worst thing since Hitler and actively planning the next 9/11, we may be willing to partner with the Assad government in Syria, that is still using chemical weapons as it carries out it's own genocide.

Syria's chemcial weapons attacks continue, even as the international community praises the destruction of the "declared chemical weapons" after the attack last year and Obama's infamous red line.

The recent news on August 18, 2014 that
The United States said Monday that it had completed the destruction of the deadliest chemical weapons in Syria’s arsenal
which included
581 metric tonnes of DF, a binary precursor for sarin gas, and 19.8 metric tonnes of ready-to-use sulfur mustard (HD). They were neutralised with two Field Deployable Hydrolysis Systems (FDHS) on the Cape Ray, which reduced their toxicity by 99.9 percent in line with the requirements of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Furthermore, the operation was successfully completed weeks ahead of the 60-day schedule the U.S. had estimated would be needed, and OPCW inspectors aboard the ship verified that no chemicals of any kind escaped into the sea or otherwise impacted the environment. The Cape Ray will now transport the effluent from the hydrolysis operations to Finland and Germany, where it will be offloaded for disposal at land-based facilities.
proves to be a complete farce when considering that yesterday September 1, there were Reports of New Improvised Chemical Weapons Used by the Syrian Air Force including a new investigation by OPCW into the use of chlorine, which was not part of the "successful" elimination of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile.
An OPCW team went to Syria to probe the new allegations of chlorine use. Chlorine has many peaceful uses but can be deployed in gas form as a chemical weapon, and such use is banned under an international treaty. Syria did not have to declare chlorine as part of its agreement to give up chemical weapons.
So Syria got to keep its chlorine, and has according to accounts used it as many as 8 times in April alone, as well as dropping barrel bombs against civilians.
Reasonable grounds exist to believe that chemical agents, likely chlorine, were used on (northern Syrian villages) Kafr Zeita, al-Tamana and Tal Minnis in eight incidents within a 10-day period in April," the report said.
Witnesses saw helicopters drop barrel bombs and smelled a scent akin to domestic chlorine immediately following impact." Victims, it said, had suffered "symptoms compatible with exposure to chemical agents, namely vomiting, eye and skin irritation, choking and other respiratory problems.
killing so far at least 191,000 by recent counts.

ISIS is dangerous, and they are capable and willing to kill thousands of people in Iraq and Syria.  They want Westerners to join them, and they want Western troops to come to Iraq and Syria to fight them.  However despite their ruthlessness I do not fear ISIS getting their hands on chemical weapons.  I fear scary journalism more, because it can alow governemnts to scare citizens into going to war.  The problem with war is that it leads to more war as enemies and alliances shift from one conflict to the next, and too many times as we are seeing now with ISIS, one conflict (the Iraq War) leads to new wars.

We need to fix our foreign policy fast.  That can be done, but it starts with informed citizens, and that starts with accurate informative journalism.

I leave you with some US government hypocrisy from to show you what this looks like.

June 25 
Iraq Crisis Puts US on Same Side With Assad, Iran Quds Force
we now see a situation whose supreme irony would be hilarious if only so many lives were not senselessly caught in the crossfire....inside Iraq, state media is initially unable to distinguish an action taken by Assad from one taken by the US. That is, Assad, whom we are fighting inside Syria, is on our side inside Iraq.
July 21
Kerry Castigates Putin For Using US Strategy of Training, Arming Rebels
the tragic downing of MH17....demonstrated the folly of training and arming rebel groups that often veer into extremist actions that result in atrocities. That point ties to the mad push to arm Syria’s rebels with the shorter range MANPAD antiaircraft missiles even though they are less powerful than the Buk missile that took down MH17.
June 11
US Foreign Policy in a NUTshell
This partial screen capture from the “World” section of today’s New York Times really needs no further explanation of the incompetence of US diplomats and military strategists

So our strategy to fight ISIS is...
  • Western countries fear ISIS could develop chemical weapons and use them to kill thousands of civilians
  • In order to make sure that doesn't happen, we are teaming up with a leader who has used chemical weapons and killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. 

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