By Tony Cartalucci
Global Research, April 19, 2014
New Eastern Outlook
Region: Middle East & North Africa
Theme: Media Disinformation, US NATO War Agenda
In-depth Report: SYRIA: NATO’S NEXT WAR?
The bombshell report by Pulitzer Prize-winning veteran journalist Seymour Hersh titled, “The Red Line and the Rat Line,” contains many shocking revelations for those following the West’s version of reality regarding the Syrian conflict. It particularly sheds new light on the August 2013 chemical attack that left over a thousand dead (US estimates) and thousands more affected.
It reveals that not only was the Syrian government not behind the attack, but that it was a false flag operation designed specifically to serve as an impetus for Western military intervention. It also reveals that the West’s desire to intervene in the wake of the chemical attack was not to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons as was stated to the public, but instead was intended to completely destroy the Syrian military and save its militant proxies who were already well on their way to losing the war.
However, for all the revelations it contains, it provides only a glimpse into the greater conspiracy the West has been engaged in, grossly understating the unfolding truth of the West’s role behind the devastating conflict that is consuming Syria. To understand the entire picture, one must examine Hersh’s work stretching back as far as 2007.
Hersh’s Syrian Trilogy
Taken alone, Hersh’s latest report is damning. Taken together with two previous pieces, spanning a total of 7 years of analysis and investigative journalism, Hersh’s work paints a picture of a West engaged in a diabolical, premeditated conspiracy to mire Syria in a sectarian bloodbath for the purpose of achieving regime change in Damascus and undermining neighboring Iran. It becomes clear upon reading Hersh’s work, that the chemical attack in Damascus was not only perpetrated by the West, but was done to trigger a greater war on top of the carnage the West has already intentionally sown.
Hersh’s first piece published in the New Yorker in March 2007 titled, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” reveals that the current conflict in Syria was in fact first engineered during the Bush administration. It states in no uncertain terms that (emphasis added):
“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”
The same report would reveal that the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel had already begun funding Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood to begin preparations for the impending conflict, and that analysts within the US intelligence community foresaw a humanitarian catastrophe in the making, spurred by the arming of large groups of sectarian extremists.
Hersh’s second piece would come in the aftermath of the August 2013 chemical attack in Damascus. Published in December of 2013, Hersh’s piece titled, “Whose Sarin?” stated (emphasis added):
Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.
The lengthy report goes on in detail, covering the manner in which Western leaders intentionally manipulated or even outright fabricated intelligence to justify military intervention in Syria – eerily similar to the lies told to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the escalation of the war in Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
The report also reveals that Al Nusra, Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, was identified by US intelligence agencies long ago for possessing chemical weapons. These are the same terrorists Hersh warned about in his 2007 article, and mentioned again as being at the center of Western designs in his most recent piece.
The West’s Coverup…
In an attempt to counter Hersh’s report in 2013, the Western media conducted a smear campaign against him and his work. It centered around “weapons expert” Eliot Higgins – an unemployed blogger with no military training who watches YouTube videos – coupled with the commentary of Dan Kaszeta, an expert-for-hire who currently heads the security contractor firm, “Strongpoint Security.”
The entirety of their argument was not who, but how the attack was carried out, proving nothing beyond the fact that the false flag operation was executed very convincingly. Higgins, in a post published by Foreign Policy arrogantly titled, “Sy Hersh’s Chemical Misfire,” claims (emphasis added):
I asked chemical weapons specialist Dan Kaszeta for his opinion on that. He compared the possibility of Jabhat al-Nusra using chemical weapons to another terrorist attack involving sarin: the 1996 gassing of the Tokyo subway by the Aum Shinrikyo cult.
“The 1994 to 1996 Japanese experience tells us that even a very large and sophisticated effort comprising many millions of dollars, a dedicated large facility, and a lot of skilled labor results only in liters of sarin, not tons,” Kaszeta said. “Even if the Aug. 21 attack is limited to the eight Volcano rockets that we seem to be talking about, we’re looking at an industrial effort two orders of magnitude larger than the Aum Shinrikyo effort. This is a nontrivial and very costly undertaking, and I highly doubt whether any of the possible nonstate actors involved here have the factory to have produced it. Where is this factory? Where is the waste stream? Where are the dozens of skilled people — not just one al Qaeda member — needed to produce this amount of material?”
Of course, to call Al Nusra a nonstate actor is entirely untruthful. Al Nusra and other extremist networks inside of Syria have had the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel’s backing since at least as early as 2007. Since 2011, Qatar and Turkey have also played immense roles in supporting Al Nusra – with NATO-member Turkey providing them sanctuary and even logistical support.
Higgins and his “expert” ask where the factories, waste streams, and skilled people are – the answer is somewhere within one of the many axis nations supporting Al Nusra. They have the capacity to both manufacturer the gas and transport it into Syria – or conversely – provide Al Nusra with the supplies and personal to do it inside of Syria.
And this, in fact, is precisely what Hersh proves in his latest article, not through YouTube videos and paid-for commentary from security contractors, but from sources within the US government itself.
Hersh beings his latest piece, “The Red Line and the Rat Line,” by quoting US defense officials who claimed (emphasis added):
For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria’s 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 Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.’
Hersh also reports that (emphasis added):
‘Previous IC [intelligence community] focus had been almost entirely on Syrian CW [chemical weapons] stockpiles; now we see ANF [Al Nusrah Front] attempting to make its own CW … Al-Nusrah Front’s relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the group’s 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.’
Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators constitute the “the factories, waste streams, and skilled people” used to enable Al Nusra to carry out the attack. Hersh’s report also reveals that training had been given to Al Nusra in the handling of chemical agents by Turkey:
‘The MIT [Turkey's national intelligence agency] was running the political liaison with the rebels, and the Gendarmerie handled military logistics, on-the-scene advice and training – including training in chemical warfare,’ the former intelligence official said.
Hersh’s Immense Work is Still Incomplete
But this is only part of the story. While Hersh lcaims Turkey was training terrorists on Syria’s northern borders to carry out the attack, it has been revealed that the United States itself was too, as well as training Saudi-backed terrorists staging in Jordan to the south of Syria. CNN’s December 2012 report titled, “Sources: U.S. helping underwrite Syrian rebel training on securing chemical weapons,” stated that:
The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday.
The training, which is taking place in Jordan and Turkey, involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials, according to the sources. Some of the contractors are on the ground in Syria working with the rebels to monitor some of the sites, according to one of the officials.
Though Hersh’s article suggests that the chemical attack was a false flag operation carried out by terrorists from Turkey with Turkish backing, it is just as likely, if not more so keeping in mind logistical considerations, that terrorists out of Jordan with US-Saudi backing carried out the attack instead.
Washington’s initial eagerness and expediency to launch a war against Syria may have been blunted by resistance within the US Department of Defense as suggested by Hersh, but was certainly laid to rest by an utter lack of public confidence, with the proposed war with Syria perceived as the most unpopular conflict in US history. Slate’s “Least Popular War Ever?” stated:
As Secretary of State John Kerry made the Obama administration’s most forceful statement yet on Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds just 9 percent of Americans supporting intervention in Syria, with about 60 percent opposed.
Hersh also reveals that not only was the US eager to militarily intervene based on flawed and fabricated intelligence, but that it was eagerly expanding the scope of its intervention – from disarming Syria of its chemical stockpiles, to decimating all of Syria’s military – to give the militants it was backing an upper-hand in a conflict they were sorely losing. Hersh’s report states:
It [US target list in Syria] became huge.’ The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had’, the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.
If Turkey Carried Out the Damascus Attack, America Helped…
Turkey has been a NATO member since 1952 – and its involvement in Syria has most certainly not been unilateral. Its role in handing weapons, funding, and support to militants along the Turkish-Syrian border has been admittedly augmented by US CIA officers. In June of 2012, the New York Times in an article titled, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition,” claimed:
A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.
The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.
The C.I.A. officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in part to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, one senior American official said.
The New York Times in their March 2013 article titled, “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With C.I.A. Aid,” admits that:
With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.
The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.
A June 2013 LA Times article titled, “U.S. has secretly provided arms training to Syria rebels since 2012,” admitted:
CIA agents and special operations troops have trained the rebels in anti-tank and antiaircraft weaponry in Jordan and Turkey.
The LA Times continued:
CIA operatives and U.S. special operations troops have been secretly training Syrian rebels with anti-tank and antiaircraft weapons since late last year, months before President Obama approved plans to begin directly arming them, according to U.S. officials and rebel commanders.
The covert U.S. training at bases in Jordan and Turkey, along with Obama’s decision this month to supply arms and ammunition to the rebels, has raised hope among the beleaguered Syrian opposition that Washington ultimately will provide heavier weapons as well. So far, the rebels say they lack the weapons they need to regain the offensive in the country’s bitter civil war.
If Turkey aided and abetted terrorists in carrying out a false-flag chemical weapons attack in Damascus, it is inconceivable that the US CIA did not know about it, and very unlikely they did not participate, however indirectly.
Ultimately, Hersh’s work is incomplete, and leaves the impression that Turkey went rogue, carrying out an attack to bring an unwilling US into a war they did not desire. In reality, to this day, the United States is still openly backing and arming militants it itself has designated as terrorist organizations, providing them with increasingly deadly armaments that will perpeuate the bloodbath they themselves, on record, began engineering as early as 2007.
What Hersh’s work reveals, however immense, is but one of several grotesque tentacles breaking the surface of very murky waters beneath which lurks a leviathan of state-sponsored terrorism that is responsible for the gassing of thousands, and the deaths of tens of thousands within and along Syria’s borders, and a region now teetering on the edge of a much larger and more costly war. It illustrates how the world is run by “the bad guys” who perpetrate crimes against humanity not only with absolute impunity, but with so-called international agencies covering up their tracks.
The United Nations is expected to be utterly silent over these revelations, while it continues to disingenuously wring its hands over a humanitarian crisis the West is both intentionally creating and then leveraging for geopolitical gain. What the world is left with is the need for a “non-international” response – one multipolar in nature, with Syria’s allies assisting in anti-terror operations and humanitarian relief conducted through Damascus. It may fall short of what could be accomplish if and when the nations of the West decide to genuinely commit to peace in Syria, but it is a far better alternative to capitulating to the West’s now naked conspiracy against the Syrian people.
Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.