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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/26/14

WPost Seeks US-Patrolled "Safe Zone" in Syria

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It should be noted here that -- for the past year or so -- France has been carrying water for Saudi Arabia, which was kind enough to buy a lot of expensive French warplanes and to bail out some failing French companies. [See's "Why France Sank an Iran Nuke Deal."]

French diplomats normally are careful not to show their full hand. But Fabius let slip more than he probably intended, when he complained about how much he regretted that Obama canceled the strikes on Syria last summer. "It would have changed a lot of things," said Fabius. "But what is done is done, and we're not going to rewrite history."

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki declined to comment on Fabius's allegations on the use of chlorine by Assad's forces. She said Fabius and Kerry had discussed "the importance of removing the remaining declared chemical weapons, but they did not discuss the specifics of what the foreign minister announced from his press conference."

On May 14 in Saudi Arabia, a reporter asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to comment on what Fabius had said the day before in Washington about the Syrian government using chlorine in a series of attacks: "Can you tell us what the American government thinks is happening and whether those are regime tactics? And what does it mean in terms of the agreement to move Syria's chemical arsenal?"

Hagel answered:

"I'm aware of the French foreign minister's statement. We've not seen any evidence of the specifics of that statement. I know the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] is investigating it. ... So far have been pretty successful in getting more than 90 percent of the chemical weapons and the precursors out of Syria."

At a May 15 press conference in London, Secretary of State Kerry was asked to explain why Hagel said the U.S. had seen no evidence to support Fabius's allegations. Kerry handled the question with his customary aplomb:

"On the issue of evidence, I suspect -- I haven't talked with Secretary Hagel about what was in his mind or what he was referring to with respect to that. ... And I have seen evidence, I don't know how verified it is -- it's not verified yet -- it hasn't been confirmed, but I've seen the raw data that suggests there may have been, as France has suggested, a number of instances in which chlorine has been used in the conduct of war."

Apparently, having brought the world to the brink of war over Syria last summer, Kerry, the French, Human Rights Watch and the Western mainstream media are not about to cease and desist now.

We will be well advised to keep this recent history in mind as Kerry, the Post editors and others comment on Ukraine in the coming days. Caveat lector.

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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)
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