Kerry was “thinking aloud” when he said he foresaw circumstances in which there could be US boots on the ground in Syria
The Russian idea to get rid of Syrian chemical weapons probably weakens US President Barack Obama’s already weak hand and leaves the White House in something of a quandary.However, there is a slender chance it saves his bacon.I must admit, when I saw the Russian rapid response to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s musings about such a deal, it crossed my mind this had been cooked up in advance.If the Syrians quickly backed down, that could let President Obama off the hook for a vote that is going to be very tricky for him.But if this is choreography, then there are some startlingly good actors in the White House and at the US Department of State, who appear less than impressed.At State, they sounded very cynical about the Russian plan: “Picking up this ball and turning it into something it was never intended to be is an example, quite frankly, we think, of yet another stalling tactic.”The White House say they will “look hard” at the idea but note Mr Assad’s track record doesn’t suggest he can be trusted. They argue that only their threat of force has brought this response, so it makes the case for a “yes” vote.They have a point, but I suspect many more in Congress – who don’t want action anyway – will feel this glimmer of hope is another reason to vote “no”.If the White House has based its whole case on common sense, then there is nothing more common sense than putting chemical weapons beyond use. It will make other countries even more keen on the UN route.It is a distraction from the big sell, another question to divert President Obama from making a straight case. If action is delayed, it will annoy those senators who want a grander action aimed at regime change, even if that is now called “degrading assets”.It raises even more memories of Iraq – the ability of regimes to play games with weapons inspectors and for the US to use that as a reason for action.Mr Kerry was “thinking aloud” the other day when he envisaged some circumstances where there could be boots on the ground. This is being called “a rhetorical statement” by his staff.I dislike politicians being forced to speak in confined straight lines, but you can see why their communications directors may not feel the same.Many in the world may regard this as a hopeful day. I suspect that is not the mood in the White House.
A chemical attack may be launched on Israel by Syrian rebels from government-controlled territories as a “major provocation”, a number of sources have told RT.The news comes as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov proposed that Syria puts its chemical weapons arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction in order to prevent a possible military strike against the war-torn republic.Moscow also urged the Syrian authorities to join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The offer has already been passed over to the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, who met Lavrov in Moscow for talks on Monday. “We don’t know if Syria will accept the offer, but if imposing international control over chemical weapons stored in the country can help to avoid military strikes, we are immediately going to start working with Damascus,” Lavrov said. The Syrian Foreign Ministry has welcomed Moscow’s initiative, “based on the Syrian’s government care about the lives of our people and security of our country,” Muallem said later on Monday. A few hours earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that to avoid a military operation Syrian President Bashar Assad has a week to surrender control of “every single bit” of his stock of chemical weapons to the international community. “But he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done,” he added, speaking at a media conference in London, as he was wrapping up his European tour in a move to win support for the Obama-proposed “limited” strike against Syria. The US Administration has blamed the Syrian government for the alleged chemical weapons use in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. Washington has maintained it has the intelligence to prove it, but has so far refused to make public a single piece of concrete evidence that would link the Assad regime to the deadly incident.
Damascus welcomes Russia’s call to hand control over its chemical weapons to the international community, the Syrian Foreign Minister said responding to Sergey Lavrov’s statement after the two met in the Russian capital.“Syria Arab Republic welcomes Russia’s initiative, based on the Syrian’s government care about the lives of our people and security of our country,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said in response to the statement by his Russian counterpart.“We are calling on the Syrian authorities not only agree on putting chemical weapons storages under international control, but also for its further destruction and then joining the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier. Britain has responded to the Russia-Syria dialogue, saying that the chemical weapons handover idea for Syria must not be used as a “distraction tactic”.”If Syria were to put its chemical weapons beyond use under international supervision clearly that would be a big step forward,” Cameron told parliament. “We have to be careful though to make sure this is not a distraction tactic to discuss something else rather than the problem on the table.”
Despite stiff opposition at home and abroad to any military solution to the Syrian chemical weapons crisis, the Pentagon is preparing for a much broader attack on Syria than it originally had planned, the Los Angeles Times reports.The revised plan calls for three-days of cruise missile attacks followed by a second wave of attacks on targets that the initial salvos failed to destroy, anonymous sources told the daily.Two US officers also alleged that the White House “requested an expanded target list in recent days to include many more than the 50 or so targets on the initial list.”Pentagon planners have several options in the event of an attack: they are pondering over calling in Air Force bombers to be backed by air-to-surface cruise missiles from five warships now on patrol in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, or use an aircraft carrier strike group in the Red Sea, which includes one cruiser and three destroyers.”There will be several volleys and an assessment after each volley, but all within 72 hours and a clear indication when we are done,” said one officer familiar with the planning.The article admitted, however, that some military officers are skeptical that even a more robust air campaign will do much lasting damage to Assad’s forces. One of the officers told the Times that the planned operation amounted to little more than a temporary “show of force,” not enough to turn the tables in favor of Syrian rebel forces.Reports that the Syria target list was to be expanded first appeared during the G20 summit in St Petersburgh. Obama refuted the rumors at the press conference. US Secretary of State John Kerry suggested on Sunday that Washington might still bring the Syria strike issue to the UN Security Council, but that Obama is still keeping all options on the table.”On President Hollande’s comments with respect to the UN, the president [Obama], and all of us, are listening carefully to all of our friends,” Kerry said. “No decision has been made by the president.”Obama has declined to say whether he would order an attack on Syria if Congress votes against military action. However, he did give a preview of his argument in his weekly radio address on Saturday.”Failing to respond to this outrageous attack would increase the risk that chemical weapons could be used again, that they would fall into the hands of terrorists who might use them against us, and it would send a horrible signal to other nations that there would be no consequences for their use of these weapons,” he said.The US leader is planning an attack of a different sort as he prepares to appeal for public support in the coming days on the nation’s media including ABC, CBS and NBC, the three main broadcast networks, as well as CNN, PBS, and Fox News. He will also make a special address from the Oval Office on Tuesday – something all the channels will broadcast – the day before the Senate is expected to grant or reject authorization to a strike on Syria.The world’s opinion remains divided on the Syrian action. In its latest remarks, the EU said the Syrian government was the likely perpetrator of the Damascus chemical attack, but that it will not be rushed into any military action before an official UN report is released. Russia, China and several other countries insist that any action taken on Syria should be first approved by the US Security Council, with President Vladimir Putin calling the Ghouta chemical incident a “provocation” on the part of the rebels and pledging help to Syria in the event of a foreign attack.
Germany’s intelligence services and the US’ CIA cooperated for several years to collect a suspected Jihadists database. Code named PX, it included info on German Islamists, Der Spiegel reported.According to the weekly magazine, Germany’s intelligence agencies Bundesnachrichtendienst BND, and Verfassungsschutz BfV along with the CIA cooperated on what was codenamed “Project 6”.The three agencies monitored and collected data on Islamists and suspected terrorists in Germany. In 2005 “Project 6” was based in the western town of Neuss, where the services jointly rented premises. However, later the group moved to Cologne.The Der Spiegel did not name its sources, but reported that the BND confirmed the existence of the so-called “Project 6” and the database named “PX”, but said the cooperation with the CIA ended in 2010.Despite being tasked with collecting data of suspected jihadists, terrorist supporters and people with Islamist background, the database also included the name, date of birth and passport number of a German investigative journalist, Stefan Buchen. He used to work for the NDR public broadcaster and is also known to have contacted an Islamist preacher in Yemen and visited Afghanistan on a number of occasions.Commenting on the report, Germany’s Federal Data Protection Commissioner, Peter Schaar, gave assurances that he was not aware of such a database, but has criticized the apparent lack of transparency. However, he said “PX” is “at least comparable” to an anti-terror database, to which dozens of German authorities have had access since 2007. In early July, Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee and NSA contractor, accused Germany and the US of partnering in spy intelligence operations, revealing a close cooperation between the two countries, despite Chancellor Angela Merkel’s denial of any knowledge of NSA’s tactics. Also back in July, Der Spiegel reported that the German Federal Intelligence Service, the BND and NSA work very closely together.
Congress returns to Washington on Monday with the same rapid-fire agenda it left in August, but now facing the more immediate task of deciding if the United States should launch a military strike on Syria.
The first floor action could come as early as Monday in the Senate, setting up a vote Wednesday in the chamber on a resolution authorizing the “limited and specified use” of U.S. armed forces against Syria for no more than 90 days and barring American ground troops from combat. A final vote in the 100-member chamber is expected at week’s end.
A House vote is likely the week of Sept. 16, now that President Obama has asked Congress to back his decision to launch a military strike to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom he believed ordered an Aug. 21 chemical weapon attack that killed nearly 1,500 of his own people.
A resolution to use military force has the best chance of passing in the Democrat-controlled Senate but appears to face a much greater challenge in the Republican-controlled House, despite the backing of Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
A vote count Friday by The Washington Post found 223 House members in the “no” or “leaning no” category, which is more than the 217 that would be needed to sink the resolution
In a move to intensify its defense near the Syrian border, Turkey has deployed additional troops and more weapons to the country’s southeast. Earlier this week, Turkey sent reinforcement to the south amid Washington’s calls for a military strike on Syria.The Turkish military dispatched additional units to Suruc, located in the southern province of Sanlıurfa, on Sunday, Today’s Zaman reported. According to the report, semi-trailer trucks loaded with armored vehicles and tanks were sent midday from a command post in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.Local newspaper Hurriyet also reported on Sunday that Turkish fighter jets conducted a patrol flight over the Syrian border due to “increased activity” in the area.Automated firing units using Stinger missiles for very short range air defenses have been set up on top of a high hill on the Syrian border town of Yayladagi in Hatay province, Reuters reported, citing a witness who said that the defense system’s radar was active.Over the past week, Turkey also moved convoys of military vehicles carrying equipment and personnel between its bases near the southeastern border.Reinforcement units were sent on Wednesday from a military command in the southern province of Gaziantep to Kilis province, located on the Syrian border. On Thursday, additional convoys of military units, weapons, and vehicles were also dispatched to the southern province of Hatay.Turkish armed forces have also begun to establish a new base on the top of Kel Mountain, adjacent to the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, according to Hurriyet.Military equipment, which was carried by trucks for two days from the Yayladağı district to the southern Hatay province, is being assembled on top of the mountain.It remains unclear what prompted the decision to send reinforcements to the border, as neither the Turkish military nor the Ministry of Defense were available to provide comment to Reuters.Local media speculated that the move could be related to a Tuesday accident which occurred when a package of live ammunition exploded while being smuggled into Turkey. Six people were killed at the border.It has been also suggested by the media that the additional troops will be the first to respond to a possible strike by Syria.But in his recent statement, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan reiterated that Turkey – which has been openly supporting the rebel opposition – was ready to take part in any international coalition against Syria.”Whether it would be as an opposing force or supplying forces to provide logistical support, all this would be determined by circumstances,” Erdogan said on Sunday.Turkey has been bolstering security along the 900km 560 mile border with Syria over the past year.Meanwhile, US Congress is set to debate whether to give a green light for military intervention after President Barack Obama proposed limited strikes in response to what Washington insists was the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime against Syrian civilians.
‘Bigger than Watergate’: US ‘regular’ meetings with Al-Qaeda’s leader; documented White House ‘false flag terrorism’ moving people ‘like sheep’; the father of Twin Towers victim tell us why he backs this month’s 9/11 campaign on Times Square and around the world; & the protests calendar for September.
Seek truth from facts with Bob McIlvane, whose son Bobby was killed in the lobby of the North Tower; NATO’s Secret Armies author Dr. Daniele Ganser; Elizabeth Woodworth of Consensus911; Journal of 9/11 Studies co-editor Dr. Graeme MacQueen; Dr. Kevin Barrett author of Questioning the War of Terror, civil engineer Jon Cole of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth; and Rachel Maddow of The Rachel Maddow Show.