The Balance of Probabilities 1084

Unlike the famous chemical weapons “attack” portrayed by the BBC in Saving Syria’s Children, it does appear that in the latest incident at Idlib there was real horror inflicted by chemical attack of some kind. The question is who did it and why?

I am no fan of the Assad regime, and I have no problem using the word “regime” to describe it. Dictators do hold and win elections. I have lived in severe dictatorships and seen from the inside how they do it. The human rights abuses of the Assad regime have been well documented for decades.

But Bashar al Assad is neither stupid nor unsophisticated. Aided by Putin, he outwitted Obama by quickly giving up his chemical weapons to be destroyed and accepting transparency in verification. There is no justification for the destruction of Iraq, but if Saddam Hussein had been able to swallow pride as completely as Assad, he too could have had a very good chance of averting disaster.

Assad had seen his position go from strength to strength, thanks to Putin’s astute deployment of Russia’s limited military power. Militarily the balance had swung dramatically in Assad’s favour, while Trump had said the unsayable and acknowledged that putting Syria into the hands of Wahabbist crazies was not in the United States interest.

So I cannot conceive that Assad would risk throwing all of this away for the sake of a militarily insignificant small chemical weapons attack. It would be an act of the most extreme folly. It is not impossible – hubris is a great temptation to dictators – but given how Assad has played it so far, it seems out of character and extremely improbable. What is less improbable is a local battlefield decision by pro-Assad forces. In my close observation of dictatorial regimes, a fascinating feature is that they operate an image of the perfection of the state. They are highly adverse to admitting mistakes.

What did happen I do not profess to know. There are at least eleven major identifiable state and non-state forces involved in the fighting around Idlib. In going through them all and considering opportunity and motive for each, I continually find that those whose motive would be false flag stand to benefit a great deal more than those who might have been seeking military advantage.

I am therefore for now unconvinced that this was a deliberate use of chemical weapons by Assad forces. I do not rule it out, but it would take much more concrete evidence than currently offered to prove they did something so strongly and obviously against their own interest. But western governments and media have determined to make that the narrative, so the truth is, as so often in modern geo-politics, entirely incidental to the course of future events.

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1,084 thoughts on “The Balance of Probabilities

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  • michael norton

    Aleppo bomb blast kills 6 – Syrian state TV

    A bomb blast killed six people and injured 32 in the Salah al-Din district of Aleppo, Syrian state television reported on Wednesday. Salah al-Din is located west of Aleppo’s Old City in a district that was part of the last rebel enclave there until it was taken over by the Syrian army in an advance in December. (Reuters)

    I am unable to understand why The Donald who mentioned babies as part of his reasoning for launching 59 Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian Air Base
    has been so quiet about the children bus-bombed to the West of Aleppo?

    • michael norton

      Let’s see who could be involved.

      Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya-Islamic Movement of the Free People of the Levant, commonly referred to as Ahrar al-Sham, is a coalition of multiple Islamist and Salafist units that coalesced into a single brigade in order to fight against the Syrian Government led by Bashar al-Assad during the Syrian Civil War. With an estimated 20,000 fighters in 2015, Ahrar al-Sham became the largest rebel group in Syria after the Free Syrian Army became less powerful. The group along with Jaysh al-Islam are the main rebel groups supported by Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
      The group aims to create an Islamic state under Sharia law, and was for a time openly allied with the al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, until a rift in January 2017 that has since been healed.

      So both the Free Syria Army and Ahrar al-Sham are supported by Saudi and Turkey but are they also supported by America?

      The evacuation of civilians and fighters from besieged Syrian towns resumed on Wednesday after a weekend bombing at a transit point killed 126 people, 68 of them children, an AFP correspondent reported.

    • michael norton

      Syria’s ally Russia said an air strike hit a rebel depot full of chemical munitions – but this has been rejected by many in the international community.

      Gen Mattis was also asked about reports that Syrian forces had moved warplanes to a Russian base in Syria.

      There was “no doubt,” he said, “they have dispersed their aircraft in recent days”.

      So this must mean that The Syrians and the Russians and the Lebanese and the Iranians

      think that America is going to go for broke in Syria.

  • michael norton

    France says it has evidence showing the Syrian air force “undoubtedly” dropped bombs containing the nerve agent Sarin on a rebel-held town last month.

    French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters that samples taken from the scene bore the “signature” of Sarin produced by Syria’s government.

    At least 87 people were killed in the incident in Khan Sheikhoun, according to an opposition-run health authority.

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has dismissed it as a “fabrication”.

    He insists the government has never used chemical weapons and that it turned over all of its stocks in 2013, after it was blamed by Western powers for a Sarin attack on rebel-held suburbs of Damascus that left hundreds dead.

    In my world, this is FRANCE desparate to arse lick TRUMP

    nothing else

  • michael norton

    Donald Trump deploys US troops along Syria border with Turkey to DETER ISIS aggression

    Days after a Turkish airstrike killed 20 Kurdish fighters who were assisting US troops, American armed vehicles have been filmed patrolling the same area where the fatal clash took place earlier this week.

    Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman said: “We have US forces that are there throughout the entirety of northern Syria the operate with our Syrian Democratic Force partners. The border is among the areas where they operate.”


    So what is The Donald up to with Syria, he fires 59 Tomahawk missiles at an airfield that has fifty hardened shelters, only half the Tomahawks hit?
    So, very little actual damage, plus they told the Russians in advance of their plans.

    The danger in the area is Turkey/Saudi and America.

    • michael norton

      One of the things to discuss, is what is meant by
      The Syrian Civil War?

      There are many countries offering real aggression/danger to Syria.
      Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, U.K. Australia, USA.

      The war was started by people of Turkish ethnicity /Turkish citizens, in Hatay Province, which Turkey had previously stolen from Syria.
      Israel had previously stole The Golan from Syria.
      There are many actors, hoping to break up Syria
      and not many of these actors are Syrian.

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