March 20, 2013
Following a chemical weapon attack in Syria, Obama’s National Security Council Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, went on CNN to blame the Syrian government. McDonough characterized the incident as a “game changer” and said the United States “will act accordingly.”
For now, however, the Obama administration is taking a cautious approach. “We are evaluating the charges that are being made and the allegations, consulting closely with our partners in the region and in the international community. But we have no evidence to substantiate that charge, that the opposition has used chemical weapons,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday.
Carney, however, said the administration is skeptical of the Syrian government’s claim it is not responsible for the chemical weapon attack. “We are deeply skeptical of a regime that has lost all credibility and we would warn the regime of making these kind of charges as a pretext or cover for its use of chemical weapons.”
According to Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, the incident will be “on the table in the discussions between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama” during Obama’s trek to Israel. Livni did not directly blame the Syrian government for the attack, but McDonough’s comments during the CNN segment leave little doubt the United States plans to blame al-Assad’s government and, as McDonough stated, “act accordingly.”
So far, the attacks have yet to be officially confirmed by the United States.
“The United States has the tools in order to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon and in order to stop all this situation in Syria,” Livni said. “It is not a favor to the state of Israel. This is something that represents the interests of the United States as well.”
Earlier in the week, we reported the United States and Israel will settle on a common goal – escalating the war in Syria and doubling up the effort to take out the al-Assad government and replace it with one more amendable to Israel and the United States.
On Tuesday, two leading Senate neocons, John McCain and Lindsey Graham called for a military response to the unsubstantiated attack.
“If today’s reports are substantiated, the President’s red line has been crossed, and we would urge him to take immediate action to impose the consequences he has promised,” they wrote in a joint statement. The U.S. response, according to the senators, “should include the provision of arms to vetted Syrian opposition groups, targeted strikes against Assad’s aircraft and SCUD missile batteries on the ground, and the establishment of safe zones inside Syria to protect civilians and opposition groups.”
Syria’s opposition groups consist of the CIA supported and Saudi, Qatari and Turkish funded and armed Free Syrian Army and Islamic mercenary fighters, including al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra terrorists. “Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats,” The New York Times reported in October.
Investigative journalist Ben Swann explores al-Qaeda’s presence in Syria.
In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine, Graham said U.S. troops will need to be sent into Syria in order that Syria’s chemical weapons do not fall in the hands of al-Qaeda. “Absolutely, you’ve got to get on the ground,” he said. “There is no substitute for securing these weapons. I don’t care what it takes. We need partners in the region. But I’m here to say, if the choice is to send in troops to secure the weapons sites versus allowing chemical weapons to get in the hands of some of the most violent people in the world, I vote to cut this off before it becomes a problem.”
On Tuesday, we noted now that chemical weapons have appeared on the scene — regardless of which side actually used them — the United States and Israel have a custom-made excuse to escalate tensions inside Syria and confront al-Assad’s military directly under the weapons of mass destruction pretext. Over the last few months, the administration has constructed a “red line” on chemical weapons and has indicated it may use military force against the Middle Eastern nation if the line is crossed.