Who Killed Gilles Jacquier?
Have you heard about the case of the French journalist Gilles Jacquier, who was killed in January in the Syrian city of Homs? An early investigation by the French (part of the Western coalition seeking to overthrow Assad) said he was killed by a Syrian army shell. However, members of the anti-Assad opposition are said to have told peacekeeper-observers for the Arab League that they unintentionally killed him with a mortar-fired rocket, erroneously believing that they were firing at government troops.
Now, half a year later, shades of the Pat Tillman case, the French ministry of defense has been forced to admit that, indeed, the rebels it supports were responsible. But according to the French newspaper Le Figaro, back in January the governments of France and Qatar (a close ally of Saudi Arabia and the West) had pressured the Arab League not to release its embarrassing report.
"Weapons of Mass Destruction," Release 5.0
In recent days, we've heard growing warnings from Assad's Western opponents about his forces possessing chemical weapons -- and of what might happen if he uses them. Assad has stated that he does have such weapons but will not use them on any Syrians, including the domestic opposition. He does, however, reserve the right to use any and all weapons should foreign powers invade.
The drumbeat on the chemical weapons issue has increased, almost across the media spectrum -- a phenomenon we have seen repeatedly on Syrian stories, and, similarly, with Libya before Muammar Qaddafi was removed. It doesn't matter if it's the right-wing Fox News or the Leftist Guardian -- everyone is on board.
If you choose a particular regime and stress what kinds of harmful weapons it has or may have, by implication you agitate for intervention. In fact, many regimes, including the US, Britain, France, Israel and their allies, also have weapons that can exact a horrific toll, yet that is not perceived as a basis for removing those governments -- because they are "our side" and therefore not a perceived threat. Ditto with the Saudis.
Here's the UK-based Guardian with an "interactive" feature on Syria's chemical weapons:
"Syria's chemical weapons -- interactive
"Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles -- which include mustard gas and sarin, a devastating nerve agent -- are currently in control of troops loyal to Bashar al-Assad. But where are they, and what effect could they have if the regime became desperate?"
You get the idea.
Always Planned to Remove Syria?
Perhaps you saw a video we ran recently. It is of General Wesley Clark, the former NATO commander, asserting that the United States had a plan since at least 2001 to invade and remove a number of regimes, including Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran.
Hardly anyone in the West knows of this claim, though it seems enormously relevant to the ongoing discussion of "what to do" about Syria.
The Abuses That We Don't Hear About
Back in March, Human Rights Watch released a public letter on abuses committed by the Western-backed Syrian opposition. Here's the summary of what HRW found:
"Armed opposition elements have carried out serious human rights abuses [which] include kidnapping, detention, and torture of security force members, government supporters, and people identified as members of pro-government militias, called shabeeha. Human Rights Watch has also received reports of executions by armed opposition groups of security force members and civilians."
As we noted a while back, unsubstantiated and indeed highly dubious claims of mass rapes by regime forces have gotten wide play, but not the doings of the other side.