what it is, bodansky really hates AQ, even more than he hates baathists

Yossef Bodansky is a USraeli who served as Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the US House of Representatives from 1988 to 2004. He is well-known as one of the few hard-core zionist operatives in the USraeli intelligence world who insists that AQ and the Iranians are in cahoots. Unlike the Israeli elite in general, Bodansky cannot bear the idea of an AQ-ruled Middle East. So he is breaking ranks here – RB

Mounting evidence raises questions about Syrian CW attack
Yossef Bodansky, WorldTribune.com, Aug 28 2013

There is a growing volume of new evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East, mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its sponsors and supporters, which makes a very strong case, based on solid circumstantial evidence, that the Aug 21 chemical strike attack in the Damascus suburbs was indeed a premeditated provocation by the Syrian opposition. The extent of US foreknowledge of this provocation needs further investigation, because available data puts the “horror” of the Obama White House in a different and disturbing light. On Aug 13-14, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major and irregular military surge. Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and representatives of Qatari, Turkish, and US Intelligence (Mukhabarat Amriki) took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, used as the command center and headquarters of the FSA and their foreign sponsors. Very senior opposition commanders who had arrived from Istanbul briefed the regional commanders of an imminent escalation in the fighting due to “a war-changing development” which would, in turn, lead to a US-led bombing of Syria. The opposition forces had to quickly prepare their forces for exploiting the US-led bombing in order to march on Damascus and topple the Assad Government, the senior commanders explained. The Qatari and Turkish intelligence officials assured the Syrian regional commanders that they would be provided with plenty of weapons for the coming offensive.

Indeed, unprecedented weapons distribution started in all opposition camps in Hatay Province on Aug 21-23, 2013. In the Reyhanli area alone, opposition forces received well in excess of 400 tons of weapons, mainly anti-aircraft weaponry from shoulder-fired missiles to ammunition for light guns and machine-guns. The weapons were distributed from store-houses controlled by Qatari and Turkish Intelligence under the tight supervision of US Intelligence. These weapons were loaded on more than 20 trailer-trucks which crossed into northern Syria and distributed the weapons to several depots. Follow-up weapon shipments, also several hundred tons, took place over the weekend of Aug 24-25 and included mainly sophisticated anti-tank guided missiles and rockets. Opposition officials in Hatay said that these weapon shipments were the biggest they had received since the beginning of the turmoil more than two years ago. The deliveries from Hatay went to all the rebel forces operating in the Idlib-to-Aleppo area, including the AQ-affiliated Jihadis who constitute the largest rebel forces in the area. Several senior officials from both the Syrian opposition and sponsoring Arab states stressed that these weapon deliveries were specifically in anticipation for exploiting the impact of imminent bombing of Syria by the US and the Western allies. The latest strategy formulation and coordination meetings took place on Aug 26. The political coordination meeting took place in Istanbul and was attended by US Ambassador Robert Ford. More important were the military and operational coordination meetings at the Antakya garrison. Senior Turkish, Qatari, and US Intelligence officials attended in addition to the Syrian senior opposition commanders. The Syrians were informed that bombing would start in a few days. A Syrian participant in the meeting said:

The opposition was told in clear terms that action to deter further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime could come as early as in the next few days.

Another Syrian participant said that he was convinced US bombing was scheduled to begin on Thursday Aug 29. Several participants, both Syrian and Arab, stressed that the assurances of forthcoming bombing were most explicit, even as formally Obama was still undecided. The descriptions of these meetings raise the question of the extent of foreknowledge of US Intelligence, and therefore, the Obama White House. All the sources consulted, both Syrian and Arab, stressed that officials of the Mukhabarat Amriki actively participated in the meetings and briefings in Turkey. Therefore, at the very least, they should have known that the opposition leaders were anticipating “a war-changing development,” that is, a dramatic event which would provoke a US-led military intervention. The mere fact that weapon storage sites under the tight supervision of US Intelligence were opened up and about a thousand tons of high-quality weapons were distributed to the opposition indicates that US Intelligence anticipated such a provocation and the opportunity for the Syrian opposition to exploit the impact of the ensuing US and allied bombing. Hence, even if the Obama White House did not know in advance of the chemical provocation, they should have concluded, or at the very least suspected, that the chemical attack was most likely the “war-changing development” anticipated by the opposition leaders as provocation of US-led bombing. Under such circumstances, the Obama White House should have refrained from rushing head-on to accuse Assad’s Damascus and threaten retaliation, thus making the Obama White House at the very least complicit after the act. Meanwhile, additional data from Damascus about the actual chemical attack increases the doubts about Washington’s version of events. Immediately after the attack, three hospitals of Médecins sans Frontières in the greater Damascus area treated more than 3,600 Syrians affected by the chemical attack, and 355 of them died. MSF performed tests on the vast majority of those treated. MSF director of operations Bart Janssens summed up the findings:

MSF can neither scientifically confirm the cause of these symptoms nor establish who is responsible for the attack. However, the reported symptoms of the patients, in addition to the epidemiological pattern of the events, characterized by the massive influx of patients in a short period of time, the origin of the patients, and the contamination of medical and first aid workers, strongly indicate mass exposure to a neurotoxic agent.

Simply put, even after testing some 3,600 patients, MSF failed to confirm that sarin was the cause of the injuries. According to MSF, the cause could have been nerve agents like sarin, concentrated riot control gas, or even high-concentration pesticides. Moreover, opposition reports that there was distinct stench during the attack suggest that it could have come from the “kitchen sarin” used by Jihadi groups, as distinct from the odorless military-type sarin, or improvised agents like pesticides. Some of the evidence touted by the Obama White House is questionable at best. A small incident in Beirut raises big questions. A day after the chemical attack, Lebanese fixers working for the Mukhabarat Amriki succeeded in convincing a Syrian male who claimed to have been injured in the chemical attack to seek medical aid in Beirut in return for a hefty sum that would effectively settle him for life. The man was put into an ambulance and transferred overnight to the Farhat Hospital in Jib Janine, Beirut. The Obama White House immediately leaked to friendly media:

The Lebanese Red Cross announced that test results found traces of sarin gas in his blood.

However, this was news to Lebanese intelligence and Red Cross officials. According to senior intelligence officials:

Red Cross Operations Director George Kettaneh told us that the injured Syrian fled the hospital before doctors were able to test for traces of toxic gas in his blood.

Apparently, the patient declared that he had recovered from his nausea and no longer needed medical treatment. The Lebanese security forces are still searching for the Syrian patient and his honorarium. On Aug 24, Syrian Commando forces acted on intelligence about the possible perpetrators of the chemical attack and raided a cluster of rebel tunnels in the Damascus suburb of Jobar. Canisters of toxic material were hit in the fierce firefight as several Syrian soldiers suffered from suffocation and “some of the injured are in a critical condition.” The Commando eventually seized an opposition warehouse containing barrels full of chemicals required for mixing “kitchen sarin,” laboratory equipment, as well as a large number of protective masks. The Syrian Commando also captured several improvised explosive devices, RPG rounds, and mortar shells. The same day, at least four Hizbollah fighters operating in Damascus near Ghouta were hit by chemical agents at the very same time the Syrian Commando unit was hit while searching a group of rebel tunnels in Jobar. Both the Syrian and the Hizbollah forces were acting on intelligence information about the real perpetrators of the chemical attack. Damascus told Moscow the Syrian troops were hit by some form of a nerve agent and sent samples (blood, tissues, and soil) and captured equipment to Russia. Several Syrian leaders, many of whom are not Assad supporters and are even his sworn enemies, are now convinced that the Syrian opposition is responsible for the Aug 21 chemical attack in the Damascus area in order to provoke the US and the allies into bombing Assad’s Syria. Most explicit and eloquent is Saleh Muslim, the head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, which has been fighting the Syrian Government. Muslim doubts Assad would have used chemical weapons when he was winning the civil war. Muslim told Reuters on Aug 27:

The regime in Syria has chemical weapons, but they wouldn’t use them around Damascus, five km from the committee which is investigating chemical weapons. Of course they are not so stupid as to do so. I believe the attack was aimed at framing Assad and provoking an international reaction. Some other sides who want to blame the Syrian regime, who want to show them as guilty and then see action, are responsible for the chemical attack. The US is exploiting the attack to further its own anti-Assad policies, and should the UN inspectors find evidence that the rebels were behind the attack, then everybody would forget it. Who is the side who would be punished? Are they are going to punish, the Emir of Qatar, or the King of Saudi Arabia, or Mr Erdogan of Turkey?

And there remain the questions. Given the extent of the involvement of the Mukhabarat Amriki in opposition activities, how is that US Intelligence did not know in advance about the opposition’s planned use of chemical weapons in Damascus? It is a colossal failure. And if they did know and warned the Obama White House, why then the sanctimonious rush to blame the Assad Administration? Moreover, how can the Obama Administration continue to support and seek to empower the opposition which had just intentionally killed some 1,300 innocent civilians in order to provoke a US military intervention?

Six days earlier, just after the Ghouta gas bombings, Bodansky penned this:

Sarajevo 1995 and Damascus 2013: The use of mass attack deception to decide wars
Yossef Bodansky, WorldTribune.com, Aug 22 2013

In Aug 1995, Western governments, and particularly the Clinton White House, were in a great quandary. The negotiations with the Serbs were going well, as Milosevic was demonstrating unprecedented flexibility and accepting virtually all the demands put forward by the West. Hence, it was becoming politically and legally impossible for the US-led West to launch the NATO military intervention which Clinton had promised Bosnia-Herzegovina leader Alija Izetbegovic the US would launch in order to quickly win the war for the Bosnian Muslims. Then, on Aug 28 1995, at around 11:00 hrs local, a mortar shell appeared to hit the Markale market place in Sarajevo, killing 38 people and wounding another 90. Russian Colonel Andrei Demurenko, then the commander of UN Forces in Sarajevo, immediately rushed with an UNPROFOR team to the supposed Bosnian-Serb mortar positions and ascertained that none of them could have been used to fire the mortar rounds. Demurenko’s report stated that the Bosnian-Serb forces were falsely blamed for the attack on the Markale. Nevertheless, ostensibly in response to the massacre, NATO launched the air campaign against Bosnian Serb forces and shortly afterwards decided the war in favor of the Bosnian Muslims. On Aug 31 1995, Jean Daniel, then editor of Le Nouvel Observateur, wrote an article titled “No more lies about Bosnia”. In the article, Daniel recounted an exchange he had just had with French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur about the NATO air campaign and the motivations for it. Referring to the Bosnian Muslim forces, Daniel asked:

They have committed this carnage on their own people?

Balladur confirmed, without hesitation:

Yes, but at least they forced NATO to intervene.

The Aug 21 2013, chemical attack in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, might become the Markale of the Syrian war. On Aug 19, a UN expert delegation arrived in Damascus to study reports and evidence of earlier use of chemical weapons. The next day, they were presented with detailed scientific, technical, and military data about the alleged chemical attacks, soil contamination and why the Syrian Armed Forces could not have carried out these attacks. Russian and other foreign experts who studied the data separately found it compelling. The Syrian military also presented the UN team with detailed intelligence evidence about chemical weapons and production labs affiliated with the opposition discovered in Syria, Turkey and Iraq. On Aug 21, the Syrian opposition announced a massive chemical attack in Ghouta which allegedly inflicted about 1,300 fatalities including hundreds of children. As in previous chemical attacks blamed on the Assad administration, the attackers used the ubiquitous Sarin nerve gas. Immediately, the opposition flooded Western media with pictures of the dead, but provided no conclusive evidence about the attack and the perpetrators. Moreover, initial opposition reports claimed the attack was conducted by a barrage of rockets. Subsequently, in the context of renewed outcries for a no-fly zone, the opposition claimed that the chemical attack was a part of a massive bombing by the Syrian air force. Yet the opposition’s pictures show no casualties suffering shrapnel wounds associated with aerial bombing. Stern denials by the Syrian government of any involvement in the attack were largely ignored by the West. At the time of writing, the UN expert delegation and foreign diplomats were denied access to the attack site by the opposition forces ostensibly because of fear for their safety.

The context of the attack is of great significance. Starting Aug 17 and 18, nominally Free Syrian Army (FSA) units, in reality a separate Syrian and Arab army trained and equipped by the CIA as well as Jordanian and other intelligence services, attempted to penetrate southern Syria from northern Jordan and start a march on Damascus. The US-sponsored war plan was based on the Autumn 2011 march on Tripoli, Libya, by CIA-sponsored army from Tunisia which decided the Libyan war and empowered the Islamists. Two units, one 250 strong and one 300 strong, crossed into Syria and began advancing parallel to the Golan Heights border. Their aim was to break east and reach Daraa quickly in order to prepare the ground for the declaration of Daraa as the capital of a “Free Syria”. However, the CIA’s FSA forces met fierce resistance by the unlikely coalition of the Syrian Army and local Jihadi forces (mainly the locally-raised Yarmuk Brigades), along with tribal units who fear the encroachment by outside forces on their domain (I assume ‘coalition’ is just a figure of speech – RB). By Aug 19 and 20, the FSA units were surrounded in three villages not far from the Israeli border. An attempt to use an Indian UNDOF patrol as human shield failed. By Aug 21 pm, the FSA commanders were pleading for massive reinforcements and an air campaign to prevent their decimation. Meanwhile, on Aug 19 in Ghouta, more than 50 local opposition fighters and their commanders laid down their arms and switched sides. A few prominent local leaders widely associated with the opposition went on Syrian TV. They denounced the Jihadis and their crimes against the local population, and stressed that the Assad administration was the real guardian of the people and their interests. More than a dozen ex-rebels joined the Syrian Government forces. Hence, the last thing the Assad administration would do is commit atrocities against the Ghouta area and the local population, which had just changed sides so dramatically. For the opposition, fiercely avenging such a betrayal and petrifying other would-be traitors is a must. Furthermore, in view of the failure of the march on Daraa and Damascus by the CIA’s FSA forces, there was an urgent imperative for the opposition to provoke a Western military intervention before the rebellion collapsed completely, and Assad consolidated victory. In Obama’s Washington, there was a growing opposition to intervention. US JCoS Dempsey, who had just been to the Jordan and Israel on an inspection tour of the Syrian crisis, publicly doubted the expediency of an armed intervention, because supporting the opposition would not serve the US national and security interests. Dempsey wrote to Congress:

While the US can destroy the Syrian Air Force, such a step would escalate and potentially further commit the US to the conflict. There is no compelling strategic reason for such an undertaking. Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides. It is my belief that the side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and ours when the balance shifts in their favor. Today, they are not.

However, Obama’s own innermost circle has made it clear that it is committed to “humanitarian interventionism” of the kind exercised in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Libya. Absent legitimate national interests, a US-led intervention must be based on humanitarian reasons such in retaliation to atrocities and chemical attacks.

2 Comments

  1. lafayettesennacherib
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    pretty good stuff really, huh?

  2. niqnaq
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps his repeated stress on the mukhabarat Amriki is because he is trying to direct attention away from the role of the Mossad. Anything is possible.

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