NIGHTWATCH: Iran, Syria, WMD — and Bolivia Expels AID for Covert Operations

IO Deeds of War
January - July Wind Direction  -  Click on Image to Enlarge
January – July Wind Direction – Click on Image to Enlarge

Iran: The Foreign Minister said Iran considers use of chemical weapons in Syria a “red line” and wants the opposition investigated for using them.

“We have always emphasized that the use of chemical weapons on the part of anyone is our red line,” Salehi said, according to the ISNA news agency. “Iran is opposed to the use of any kind of weapon of mass destruction, and not just their use but their production, accumulation, and use.”

Salehi also urged the United Nations to investigate accusations by the Syrian government that Syrian opposition fighters had used chemical weapons.

Comment: Iran might be opposed to weapons of mass destruction, but Syria is not. It and North Korea have some of the largest stocks of chemical weapons among all countries. Iranian leaders know this.

What have been missing from the public domain coverage of this issue are tactical details of use, such as the target and amount of gas used. For Syria, limited use would seem to serve no tactical purpose, but large scale use would. For example, Iraq used chemical weapons extensively in the Iran-Iraq War, against the Kurds in Halabja in 988 and more than a dozen times against the Iranians between August 1983 and July 1988. They were decisive in an Iraqi victor in 1988.

Iraq also was prepared to use chemical weapons in 1991 to suppress a Shiite uprising in Najaf and Karbala after the war, but was deterred by the US. Instead it shelled the rebels.

No similar tactical or political advantage of limited use has been established in the public domain.

For the Syrian opposition groups, the political advantage of duping the US into joining the fighting is obvious and it is clear they have dissembled. Televised opposition video clips of so-called gas victims receiving treatment in emergency rooms have been debunked by experts who have posted to the web.

Sarin has no odor, but reporters have reported they smelled chlorine at the hospital in Aleppo where some victims were receiving treatment. Some of the medical staff and bystanders in the video wore street clothes. No one in the televised clips wore hazardous material protection while treating the alleged gas victims. No decontamination equipment was evident and none of the bystanders were in distress.

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Bolivia: President Evo Morales expelled the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on 1 May.

Morales claimed that the USAID is involved with “alleged political interference in peasant unions and other social organizations….Never again, never again, USAID, who manipulate and use our leaders, our colleagues with hand-outs,” Morales said in announcing the expulsion.

Morales also told the crowd that he “laments and is condemning” US Secretary of State John Kerry's remark, made during 17 April testimony to the US Congress, that “the Western Hemisphere is our backyard. It's critical to us.” He then ordered David Choquehuanca, Bolivia's foreign minister, to inform the US embassy of his decision.

He made the announcement before a crowd outside the presidential palace during a May Day rally.

USAID said in a statement it has spent nearly $2bn in Bolivia over the past 50 years on projects in education, health and food security, among other areas that were fully coordinated with the Bolivian government.

Comment: Kerry's reference to Latin and South America as “our backyard” incensed leftists throughout the continent, evidently including Morales, as patronizing and demeaning. The real reason for the expulsion appears related to government claims that the US has been using USAID to strengthen Morales' opponents and block his plans.

Morales previously expelled the US ambassador and agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in 2008. With the death of Hugo Chavez, Morales is in position to be the new leader of the anti-American consortium of countries in South America. He has taken a step in that direction.

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