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July 5, 2015 / 18 Tammuz, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘chemical weapons’

Israel Saved Obama’s Neck on Assad’s Chemical Weapons

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Israel let President Barack Obama off the hook on which he hanged himself by saying he would bomb Syria because of Bashar Assad’s’ use of chemical weapons, former Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren wrote in his new book.

The man behind the covert plan was none other than Yuval Steinitz, who at the time was Minister of Intelligence. He also is one of the loudest hawks when it comes to warning that President Obama and the other P5+1 powers are in the midst of making a terrible if not lethal mistake by dealing with Iran over its nuclear weapons program.

Assad’s use of chemical weapons, a war crime – as if he were not guilty of others – was discovered in 2013.

President Obama had done everything possible to avoid getting directly involved in the war in Syria, where any result would be a bad result.

However, the use of chemical weapons was a red line President Obama could not ignore.

Obama threatened several times to bomb Syria, and after a month he suddenly changed course 180 degrees.

Oren said it was due to Steinitz, who with the approval of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came up a plan for Assad to turn over his chemical weapons stockpile to Russia, Assad’s ally.

Bloomberg News reported that Oren wrote in his new book “Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide,” to be launched next week but not yet released to the public, that Israel was not against an American aerial attack but was willing to help the president avoid it.

Steinitz was the source of the idea even if it was not a plan so much as an off-the-cuff remark that set off a domino chain reaction.

According to Oren, Steinitz mentioned the idea to the Russians, and then to the State Dept., which did not take him too seriously. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov took it very seriously, and the plan quickly moved forward in the United States and United Nations, with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s blessing.

Oren wrote:

The idea originated with an Israeli minister, Yuval Steinitz, who first pitched it to the Russians, who were eager to avoid an American intercession that they could not stop. Netanyahu next brought it to Obama and received a green light.

Before Obama changed course, he had gone so far as to ask the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby to lobby for a war resolution, Oren writes.

Obama never credited Israel, which Steinitz and Netanyahu agreed would not be a good idea,

Steinitz told The New York Times that that he and Prime Minister Netanyahu kept their mouths shut about their role in helping Obama so that no one would say “it’s an Israeli strike [or] Israeli conspiracy, [and] maybe it’s a reason to stop it.”

He told the newspaper:

They never asked if they can give us credit, and we never asked them to give us credit,” he added. “Until today, it was a secret.”

Israel didn’t want credit, giving both Russia and Obama the opportunity to boast.

Oren wrote:

In subsequent interviews, Obama rarely missed the chance to cite the neutralization of Syria’s chemical capabilities as an historic diplomatic achievement.

Russian president Vladimir Putin also took credit for the initiative and praised this ‘vivid example of how the international community can solve the most complex disarmament and non- proliferation tasks.’

Israel’s role remained unmentioned, but its citizens were relieved not to have to sign up for more gas masks.

Granted that President Obama may not think that Israel should bow down to him for not bombing Syria instead of risking retaliation against Israel and the horrendous scene of Israelis walking around with gas masks on their faces because of a chemical attack.

And granted that Obama should not let Israel dictate policy on key issues just because Israel helped him in another area.

But it is one thing not to thank Israel, at least not in public so the the Arabs won’t get upset, and it is another matter to create an image of hate of the leader of an ally that, intentionally or not, may have saved President Obama from one of the worst of the many disasters of his foreign policy.

No one is asking him to say, “Thank you,” but it is reasonable to expect a bit of civility. Obama simply can’t get over his control trip complex.

The president’s obsession with the non-existent “peace process” and with a deal with Iran, no matter what, has blinded him into treating Netanyahu like a voodoo doll in which he has to stick pins.

Mr. President, Show Me the Fatwa

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

Last week, in President Obama’s Nowruz statement, where the Iranian people learned they will probably be subjugated by the Ayatollahs forever, Obama mentioned Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa, an official religious ruling, against the development of nuclear weapons. Obama added that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that Iran would never develop a nuclear weapon.

One teensy, beensy eensy little problem – apparently no such Iranian fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons actually exists.

There’s an Iranian press release written in 2005 that says, “The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, has issued the fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that Iran shall never acquire these weapons.”

But that’s not a fatwa. That’s a propaganda statement released by the Iranian government for international consumption.

In Iran, a fatwa has legal standing — and no one has ever seen this mysterious Iranian anti-nuke fatwa.

It’s never been released, because it doesn’t exist.

In 2013, the Washington Post questioned if the fatwa exists.

The Washington Post showed a similar example of another non-existent Iranian fatwa against chemical weapons.

If a chemical weapons fatwa ever existed, it was clearly ignored when Iran was forced to eventually admit that it had produced chemical weapons.

In 2013, when President Obama endorsed the fatwa, MEMRI – the Middle East Research Institute, with their trove of translators went looking for the fatwa.

They found lots of other fatwas, but no fatwa against Iran having nuclear weapons.

In short, there is zero evidence that any actual Iranian fatwa exists against the Islamic Republic’s acquisition or use of nuclear weapons.

If President Obama is going to rely in any way on this apparently imaginary fatwa, then for the sake of the American people, and the world, he had better demand the Iranians show it to all of us, in writing.

Mr. President, show me the fatwa.

Berlin Won’t Name German Companies Involved in Syria’s C-Weapons Program

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Berlin steadfastly refuses to reveal the names of German companies who helped Syria develop its chemical weapons program according to a new report published this week by Der Spiegel. The information was made available in documents that were declassified after a 30 year embargo.

The list of firms involved in the program was handed over to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government coalition 16 months ago by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The organization won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for its “extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.” Last year the OPCW organized and helped destroy Syria’s chemical weapons – those that were uncovered, that is – together with experts from the United Nations.

But 16 months later, Merkel has done nothing with the list, saying that publicizing the names would “significantly impair foreign policy interests and thus the welfare of the Federal Republic of Germany.”

The Merkel government added that doing so would be similar to releasing “trade secrets” and therefore constitute a violation of Germany’s constitution.

According to a lengthy report in Der Spiegel, however, the government did not need the OPCW list to know that German firms were involved in the Syrian chemical weapons program.

Apparently the government-funded Institute for Contemporary History published an inventory dating back to 1984 including a government document with names of companies suspected of supplying the Syrian chemical weapons program.

The release may have been accidental; it was a memo regarding the Dec. 6, 1984 visit to a deupty section head in the German Foreign Ministry by then-Israeli Ambassador to Germany Yitzhak Ben-Ari.

The Israeli official brought with him “intelligence service findings” which showed that since the mid-1970s scientists had been working on producing chemical weapons for Syria, “disguised as agricultural and medical research.”

Included were the glass producer Schott, laboratory equipment producer Kolb, technology company Heraeus, the former Hoechst subsidiary Riedel-de-Haen, pharmaceutical company Merck and the company Gerrit van Delden.

The top secret program was being carried out in the chemistry department at the UNESCO-funded Centre d’Etudes et des Recherches Scientifiques in Damascus. A pilot facility was already built. Contracts were already signed for three production lines and Ben-Ari believed that within the year, Syria would have the capacity to produce 700 kilograms (1,543 pounds) of sarin – enough to kill several million people.

On December 12, 1984, a representative of the U.S. State Department told the German Embassy in Washington that Karl Kolb GmbH & Co. KG, from the town of Dreiech in Hesse, had delivered “chemical research and production equipment for the manufacture of large quantities of nerve gas” to Iraq.

At that time, Dictator Saddam Hussein was busy building “the most modern chemical weapons factory of its time,” disguised as a pesticide factory, according to international experts who testified in 2004, Der Spiegel reports. Though only Kolb is mentioned in the files, it turns out that a related firm, Pilot Plant GmbH, delivered four facilities at a total cost of 7.5 million Deutsche marks.

American officials were trying to pressure then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher to force Kolb to withdraw its technicians and “via pressure on the company prevent Iraq from producing C-weapons.”

Germany’s long-standing love affair with chemical weapons was notorious: the Nazis had used hydrocyanic acid, manufactured by German chemical companies, to murder inmates in the death camps during the Holocaust. Millions died, including six million Jews.

As it turns out, Kohl and Genscher did indeed promise to curb the companies and issued orders to that effect. Foreign Ministry internal memos clearly showed the “minister places high value on a complete investigation” and demanded “assurances that nothing more will be delivered” to Samarra.

Israel Prepares for Terrorists on Golan Border

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

With a farcical “election” scheduled in Syria for June 3, Israel’s defense establishment will have to decide how to respond to Syria’s ongoing refusal to dismantle the country’s chemical and biological weapons arsenal. 

Bashar al-Assad has moved slowly to remove the chemical weapons in his possession, despite an agreement late last year to do so by June 30 of this year. Some observers have said this indicates the Syrian leader’s plan to retain a large parts of the non-conventional arsenal for use “some time in future.”

For Israel, “some time in future” could be sooner rather than later.  While there are growing signs that Assad has gained the upper hand in Syria’s civil war and is now in the process of re-solidifying his rule over most of the country, there is at least one area of the country that is largely held by radical Islamic rebel forces, including al-Qaeda:  The Golan Heights.

On the whole, the Heights have remained Israel’s quietist border since the Yom Kippur War in 1973. After suffering heavy losses during the initial round of fighting, IDF tank and infantry  battalions annihilated Syrian troops in what became a stinging loss for the regime of Hafez al-Assad, father of the current leader. 

As a result, Damascus has taken care to prevent cross-border incidents into Israel for fear of Israeli retribution.

But with the possibility of an al-Qaeda and Salafi presence on the Golan border, Israel will once again need to consider the possibility not only that the north-eastern border could soon become a theatre of operations, but also that Assad could use his  non-conventional arsenal against rebel forces camped on the Israeli border. Those attacks would likely not be aimed at Israel, but the poison would likely affect Israeli border towns just a few kilometres from Syrian towns like Kunetra.

According to Ben Caspit, a veteran Israeli defense correspondent, the IDF recently pulled the 36th Armored Division off the Heights and replaced the force with a division that specializes in what is known in Israel as “low-intensity security operations.” Caspit also  said the situation in Syria could create a difficult dilemma for IDF officers.

“If the insurgents do end up taking the Golan Heights,” Caspit wrote on the al-Monitor website, “Israel will have to decide how to respond to acts of provocation. For example, in the event that Assad loses his grip on the Golan Heights and Israel receives intel about a terrorist attack or a plan to unleash fire against Israel or Israeli locations from the Golan Heights, will Israel find it appropriate to operate there militarily? 

“These are the weighty issues with which Israel’s defense and political establishments are presently contending. In the end, as always, what happens on the ground will also determine the reaction,” Caspit wrote.

US Has Proof Syrian Gov’t Poisoned Civilians

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

The United States has announced it possesses evidence the Syrian government is using chemical weapons against its own civilians.

In a statement released Monday at a State Department briefing in Washington, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “We have evidence of toxic chemical use in the area” of Kfar Zeita, near the city of Hama.

Opposition activists reported last week that Syrian Air Force helicopters dropped barrels of chlorine gas on the area. Video footage of the aftermath, posted by the CNN news network, showed unconscious civilians receiving medical treatment with oxygen masks.

“We are examining the accusations according to which the Syrian government is responsible for [the use of toxic chemicals,],” Psaki went on to say. “It is clear that there is a need to open an investigation into exactly what happened there. We take the reports very seriously and will work to make sure there is no breach of the agreement here.”

The spokesperson told reporters that chlorine gas had not been included among poisons on the list assembled by U.S. and Russian negotiator who last summer identified the chemical weapons to be neutralized.

Death Toll of Children in Syria Crosses 11,000 Mark

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

More than 11,000 children have been killed in the Syrian civil war, any of them starved to death and shot and tortured, according to a new report by the Oxford research Group.

Male victims outnumber female victims by two-to-one, and most of the boys have been between 13 and 17 years of age.

“The data we analyzed indicates that bombs and bullets alone ended the lives of ten thousand Syrian children in 30 months of war,” said co-author Hamit Dardagan.

More than 120 children were killed by chemical weapons, in the attack on Ghouta last August.

“What is most disturbing about the findings of this report is not only the sheer numbers of children killed in this conflict, but the way they are being killed,” added the report’s other co-author, Hana Salama.

She added that they have been “bombed in their homes, in their communities, during day-to-day activities such as waiting in bread lines or attending school; shot by bullets in crossfire, targeted by snipers, summarily executed, even gassed and tortured.”

Syrian Rebels Kill 17 Hezbollah Fighters in Direct Hit (Video)

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Syrian opposition media have posted a video that shows a direct rebel strike on a Hezbollah building near Damascus, killing a large but unknown number of the terrorist organization’s fighters.

Hezbollah has been losing popularity in Lebanon following reports of hundreds of casualties since the terrorist group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah sent them to fight along soldiers loyal to Syrian President Bassar al-Assad.

Hezbollah initially claimed its fighters were in Syria to protect Shi’ite religious sites against attacks by Sunni Muslims.

In what appears to have been a separate clash in Damascus on Saturday, at least 15 Hezbollah fighters were killed, and a separate video showed dead soldiers with Hezbollah label patches on their uniforms.

Media  coverage of the destruction of Assad’s chemical weapons has neglected the ongoing civil war that could tear Syria into several warring regions.

Al Qaeda, which has become a major force in the war against the Assad regime, lost control of a major border crossing with Iraq on Saturday when Syrian Kurds captured it after a three-day battle.

In the south, rebels took over the town of Tafas after weeks of heavy  fighting that killed dozens of people, according to, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/syrian-rebels-kill-17-hezbollah-fighters-in-direct-hit-video/2013/10/27/

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