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Iran Threatens Israel Over Syria as Trump Threatens Russia With ‘Smart’ Bombs

Iran Threatens Israel Over Syria as Trump Threatens Russia With ‘Smart’ Bombs

Trump tells Russia it “shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it.”

Iran has stirred the pot even more with Israel by threatening the Jewish state after an airstrike on Monday killed several Iranian military personnel at an air base near Homs, Syria.

Reuters reported that Israel faces even more security concerns over the possibility of US airstrikes in Syria after President Donald Trump threatened Russia over its support of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Reports have emerged that Trump’s words forced Syrian military to move themselves to Russian bases. From i24:

The Syrian military is said to be evacuating its bases near the Lebanon border and transporting its personnel to Russian army sites amid growing concern over an imminent US strike, an expected reprisal for the alleged chemical attack carried out by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday.

Reports in a French newspaper Le Figaro stated that Assad put his forces “on alert” for the next three days as the regime army began on Monday, to evacuate its major air bases thought to be possible targets for a US attack.

“According to a UN source, Syrian military planes were also transferred to the Russian Khmeimim air base, near Latakia, on the Mediterranean coast, in Assad’s stronghold,” Le Figaro wrote.

Someone from a Syrian regime unit explained that the army started to take “precautionary measures,” mainly at the “airports and military bases.” But will it work? From The New York Times:

Pentagon officials said that even if Syrian warplanes manage to elude an American-led strike campaign, the United States and its allies can still seek to so damage Syrian airfields — across the country — that it would hamper Mr. Assad’s ability to use them to launch future chemical weapons attacks.

That kind of damage, though, would require a sustained campaign — likely over a number of days. It was unclear whether the United States, France and other allies involved have made a decision to extend a bombing campaign beyond one night.

Iran’s state media IRNA reported that Aleksandr Lavrentiev, a special envoy from Russia, arrived in Tehran “to discuss the strike and ‘threats of military interference in Syria by the United States.'”

Lavrentiev, also Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon, said that any missiles from the US “would be shot down.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif brushed off Trump’s threats and called it a cheap shot:

But behind all of this is Israel and Iran. NBC News reported that two officials told the outlet that our government confirmed Israel did the airstrike early Monday morning in Syria only hours after a deadly chemical attack near Douma.

The airstrikes killed 14 people, including seven Iranians so Iran has threatened Israel. But the possibility of American airstrikes has grown Israel’s security concerns. From Reuters:

Israel held top-level security consultations on Wednesday amid concern it could be targeted by Syria or Iran if the United States strikes Syrian government forces over an alleged poison gas assault.

A member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet and Israeli strategic affairs experts voiced doubt that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, embroiled in a protracted civil war, would risk direct conflict with Israel.

But they said Israel – which has the region’s most powerful military – was taking seriously an Iranian threat to respond to a strike on Monday on an airbase on Syria which Damascus, Tehran and Moscow have blamed on Israel.

Zeev Elkin, who sits on the security forum, said that it’s “theoretically” possible that a US strike will cause Iran go strike Israel, but more than likely the retaliation will come Iran. Reuters continued:

Yaakov Amidror, a former Israeli national security adviser, said Iran has “an open issue with us” over the air base strike.

The same facility was targeted by Israel in an air strike in Syria in February after an Iranian drone was shot down inside Israeli territory.

Amidror told reporters a U.S. strike in Syria could be used by Iran as a smokescreen “to do something against Israel”.

“They have their long arm of Hezbollah, which is controlled by the Iranians,” he said. “They have militias in Syria and in Lebanon which they control and they have Iranian military forces in Syria that can be used.”

Amos Yadlin, a former Israeli military intelligence chief, wrote on Twitter that “the Iranians will probably respond to the strike attributed to Israel, even if not immediately”.

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Comments

You know, the US still has a lot of older cruise missiles in inventory. Maybe Israel would be willing to take them off our hands at a reasonable price, say $1 each? I’m sure they could find something productive to do with them.

“Trump’s cheap shot against Iran, which has consistently condemned use of chemical weapons by anyone & is itself the victim of their use by Saddam with US support, is hypocritical. His threats to repeat impulsive acts of aggression is symptomatic of US policy helping extremists….”

This may have been the way with bush, clinton and obama, but we’re now talking about Donald Trump.

Suck it up, Zarif.

Does anyone remember what started WWI? What in the world is the Us doing threatening Assad? Russia and Iran are acting as Syria’s allies. An attack upon Syria could end up forcing the Russians to respond with an attack upon US assets. Add to that the idiotic Israeli attacks on Iranian assets in Syria and you treble or quadruple the chances of starting a regional conflict or perhaps a global one.

It is fine ti chase “bandits” into Syria from Iraq, a la Poncho Villa, but attacking the government of a sovereign nation with whom you are not at war, is absolutely ridiculous. Kicking sand into the eyes of a 98# weakling might look pretty safe, until he shows up with all of his big brothers. There better be a REALLY good reason for the US to start slapping Syria around. Something worth global nuclear war.

    Milhouse in reply to Mac45. | April 12, 2018 at 3:28 am

    1. The Assad regime is not the legitimate government of Syria.

    2. The US isn’t at war with Syria, but Israel is, so it has every right to strike it at will.

    3. The use of chemical weapons, anywhere in the world, is a serious crime that must be punished hard by any nation capable of doing so; that means us. If we let it go then the ban on such weapons will become meaningless and everyone, including us, will have to start stockpiling them.

      Diverso, ma uguale?! in reply to Milhouse. | April 12, 2018 at 9:24 am

      1. nah

      2. idk maybe

      3. nah

      Mac45 in reply to Milhouse. | April 12, 2018 at 10:53 am

      1) Yes, the Assad Government IS the legitimate government of Syria and has been for the last four decades. It even has a seat in the UN.

      2)That’s right the US is NOT at war with Syria. That means that the US has NO RIGHT to be using military force against Syria, especially when Syria is not protecting ISIS who is the actor which the US invaded the territory of Syria to destroy. As to Syria and Israel being at war, Syria is not doing anything to directly attack Israel. Israel is invading Syrian territory to attack Iranians, who have a legal right to be in Syria. And, Israel is using the instance of the incursion of an unarmed drone into its airspace as justification to kill Iranian citizens as well as Syrians. Israel’s actions are more than sufficient grounds for Iran to declare war upon Israel and, with its allies, attack the state if Israel.

      3)Yes chemical weapons are dangerous. But, so are nuclear weapons. North Korea has been detonating nuclear weapons for years and the US has done nothing. And, we KNOW that the DPRK is responsible for that. Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on the Kurds, AFTER Gulf War I and the US did not bomb the country. And, we KNEW Hussein was responsible. Yet, here we DO NOT know that the Assad government is responsible for any chemical release. In fact, we have no independent corroboration that there WAS a chemical munitions release. And, logic makes it very unlikely that the Assad government would release a chemical weapon at this particular time, as it would only have negative consequences for him. A chemical release would benefit the US backed and supported rebels, in a PR sense.

      As to the US having to stockpile chemical weapons, we already do. Though we have reduced our stockpile from some 57000 metric tonnes of various nerve agents, to a “mere” 5800 metric tonnes, we still have a significant stockpile of such weapons. And, the US will not meet the deadline for detruction of its chemical weapons stockpile as directed under the CWC agreement.

        Milhouse in reply to Mac45. | April 13, 2018 at 5:11 am

        1. What makes it legitimate? Does the US still recognize it? I know France doesn’t.

        2. It makes no difference whether Syria is doing anything to directly attack Israel; a state of war exists between them, and that justifies Israel raiding Syrian territory whenever it thinks it needs to. Iranians have no business in Syria, and Israel has told both Iran and Syria that it will not allow Iran to establish itself there no matter what.

        Your statement that Iran now has “sufficient grounds” to declare war upon Israel is ludicrous. An state of war has existed between Iran and Israel since at least the ’80s. Remember that there is no requirement for war to be declared in order to exist. For that matter Iran has also been at war with the USA for even longer than it has been with Israel.

        As for the US, no we’re not at war with Syria, so we can’t rely on the laws of war for justification, but you go too far when you say we therefore have “NO RIGHT” to be using military force against Syria. We have the RIGHT to do whatever we think is in our vital interest, whether it complies with international “law” or not. International “law” is not binding; breaking it is usually a bad idea, because it has consequences that we wouldn’t like, but for an important enough reason we can decide to risk those consequences and do it anyway.

        3. The point is not that chemical weapons are dangerous but that using them is illegal. But, see above, international “law” is only as good as its enforcement. If we let Syria get away with using them then the ban will collapse and everyone will be allowed to use them too, and will thus have to keep them on hand. It’s in our vital interest to keep the ban in place, and that means enforcing it when it’s breached.

        Milhouse in reply to Mac45. | April 13, 2018 at 5:30 am

        North Korea has been detonating nuclear weapons for years and the US has done nothing.

        You’re forgetting a few things, like the fact that it’s not illegal for North Korea to have nuclear weapons, since it’s not a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty.

        Still, we could and should have prevented it, but thanks to Carter and Clinton it’s too late for that. Once they have the bomb, taking it away from them is hard to do. Let’s not get there with Iran.

    Turtler in reply to Mac45. | April 12, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    “Does anyone remember what started WWI?”

    As an amateur historian and wargamer of twentysome odd years, Yes.

    What started WWI was the Habsburg Empire’s decision to invade Serbia as soon as it could get a half arsed pretext to do so. Which led them to throw away a near-complete diplomatic victory like the Serbian capitulation to their ultimatum in favor of waging war.

    They finally got their pretext when the war fever of people like Conrad von Hoetzendorff in the KuK’s general staff and Kaiser Wilhelm II intersected with the Yugoslav terrorist groups under the command of Dragutin Dimitrijevic, and the murder he orchestrated of Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie. Likely in large part to destroy one of the few voices for peace in the chancelleries of Berlin and Vienna.

    The Central Powers did this because they were frantically paranoid over Western capitalism and the material benefits it got on one hand, and Russian industrialization and mobilization. They believed- like the late Soviets- that they either had to strike out or be overcome without a fight.

    While the terrorists recognized the sort of attacks Hoetzendorff and co planned and welcomed war as some kind of grand crucible that would create the new Yugoslavia they wished.

    So what is the moral of the story?

    WWI was started because a couple regimes and groups WANTED it to start. Badly. It was not the kind of accident people often portray it as, but the predictable outcome of a couple of totlaitarian dictatorships seeking a place in the sun in addition to the backstabby, ambitious, clawing politics of the early modern era.

    “What in the world is the Us doing threatening Assad?”

    Telling Assad to STFU and make damn sure Syria obeys international law?

    Getting even for Assad’s sponsorship of terrorists attacking us and allying with Iran?

    Supporting oru allies like hte Kurds and Israelis?

    “Russia and Iran are acting as Syria’s allies.”

    Oh well. Sorry for them.

    ” An attack upon Syria could end up forcing the Russians to respond with an attack upon US assets.”

    Firstly, we are pretty sure they already tried that. It ended up with a few hundred dead Russians.

    And secondly: it won’t FORCE the Russians to respond. The Russian regime will respond if it thinks it can get away with it. So the best road to peace is not treating Assad with kid gloves. It is convincing the Kremlin and Putin that they cannot POSSIBLY hope to skirt such a retaliation.

    ” Add to that the idiotic Israeli attacks on Iranian assets in Syria-”

    It’s not Idiotic.

    It is paying due to a sworn enemy at war with them. As we already told you.

    And particularly doing so when said enemy is already on the ground and busy elsewhere. So retaliation is less lucky.

    If Assad and Iran don’t want this kind of stuff to happen, they should STOP conducting terrorism against Israel and us and make peace with the former.

    ” and you treble or quadruple the chances of starting a regional conflict or perhaps a global one.”

    Uh mate, you’re a few years late to the regional conflict thing. In fact the existence of the Syrian civil war is one reason why the Israeli attacks made more sense.

    “It is fine ti chase “bandits” into Syria from Iraq, a la Poncho Villa,”

    Except Pancho Villa wasn’t solved by chasing the bandits.

    It was solved by getting a friendly government in Mexico City that could and would destroy Pancho Villa.

    ” but attacking the government of a sovereign nation-”

    Ok, how do we define a sovereign nation?

    Because the Baathist dictatorship in Damascus fails almost every POSSIBLE test you could set forth to establish such a thing.

    ” with whom you are not at war, is absolutely ridiculous.”

    Firstly, the Israelis ARE at war with Assad, as underlined by Assad’s refusal to come to the kind of peace deal that Egypt, Jordan, and even Lebanon have. Assad just softballs that fact and prefers attacking Israel indirectly through proxies rather than directly precisely because he knows what a spanking the Israelis can give if they go all in.

    Especially when he is still dealing with civil war and the possible collapse of his networks.

    ” Kicking sand into the eyes of a 98# weakling might look pretty safe, until he shows up with all of his big brothers.”

    Firstly, calling Assad a 98something weakling strikes me as misdiagnosing the nature of his power, even in diminished form, over Syria. Syria’s a major regional power in its own right.

    And secondly, the problem is that said not-so-weak-weakling and his big brothers have ALREADY been showing up at our door, breaking our windows, sponsoring people who want to kill us in Iraq and Lebanon, and generally being a douche. While the big brother he’s closest with has been talking about how he wants to make a suitcase dirty bomb for genocidal purposes on Facebook.

    That is what got us here. And it needs to be dealt with.

    “There better be a REALLY good reason for the US to start slapping Syria around. Something worth global nuclear war.”

    Syria’s the handmaiden of the dictatorship that is going to bring us closer to global nuclear war than other regime in history if it gets a chance. That strikes me as reason enough. As does its long track record of being a tyrannical dictatorship, killing Allied troops and civilians, and sewing destabilization.

    If Assad wants peace, Let Him Make Peace Officially with his neighbors. Period. Full Stop. Have him sort things out like Sadat did.

    Until then, we can assume he does not want peace. And is more or less onboard with the Mullahcracy’s ride into oblivion.

    “1) Yes, the Assad Government IS the legitimate government of Syria and has been for the last four decades. It even has a seat in the UN.”

    I guess that might depend on how we define legitimate.

    But considering how the Assad family dictatorship degenerated from regional Stalinist imitators to outright failed state, I’d say that seriously undercuts whatever claims to legitimacy they had.

    “2)That’s right the US is NOT at war with Syria.”

    In which case, the Syrian Arab Republic needs to GET ITS $HIT into gear and change its foreign policy. Significantly. Starting with stopping the blank check support of the IRGC.

    ” That means that the US has NO RIGHT to be using military force against Syria,”

    False.

    The US has the right to self-defense and defense of its troops, like any. YOU YOURSELF acknowledge this alone when you mention it is permissable to cross the border Pancho Villa Style, even if said crossing the border would lead to skirmishes with authorities of the state (AGAIN like the Pancho Villa expedition did).

    In addition to that, there’s the matter of international law, and defense of one’s allies.

    “especially when Syria is not protecting ISIS who is the actor which the US invaded the territory of Syria to destroy.”

    A: It’s worth noting for historical perspective that Syria DID protect the actors that would become ISIS. That is why they emerged in Syria and not Iraq under their previous label, AQII. Because the Baathist dictatorship has been providing safe haven to Jihadis attacking Coalition troops in Iraq and Israelis in Israel for a *very long time.*

    It’s just that when the “Arab Spring” broke out a bunch of them bit the hand that fed them and rose against Assad.

    Which establishes a track record of past behavior. Showing that the SAR has supported actors we’ve tried to destroy in the past and probably would have for ISIS if it weren’t for ISIS trying to kill them.

    and

    B: There is more than one reason why we have troops in Syria, not just to destroy IS. If there was, there would be a reason we would have much more overt military presences in places like Mali and elsewhere where IS or its franchsies are active. But we do not. We also have an obligation to hundreds of thousands of refugees under our protection, at least until some kind of agreement can be managed.

    And I can go on.

    “As to Syria and Israel being at war, Syria is not doing anything to directly attack Israel.”

    Which is irrelevant to a declared state of war, and particularly not with a past track record of terrorist support.

    ” Israel is invading Syrian territory to attack Iranians, who have a legal right to be in Syria.”

    Sorry, the Iranian state lost its ability to site the law to justify a legal right to be there riiiight around the same time they decided to FARQING STORM EMBASSIES. Starting with the US one but also including the Saudi one.

    It is obvious that the Guardian Council cares NOT A WHIT about legal rights to be there, because the US and Saudi Embassies had MUCH greater legal right to be in Iran than any member of the IRGC has to be in Syria. Full Stop.

    And in light of the Iranian state’s WELL DOCUCMENTED perfidy, declarations of a state of war against outside nations, and sponsorship for terrorism the Israelis have the right to retaliate against Iranian assets.

    “And, Israel is using the instance of the incursion of an unarmed drone into its airspace as justification to kill Iranian citizens as well as Syrians.”

    Again, the actions of the Iranian and Syrian states more than justify that.

    If you don’t want the Israelis to treat you as hostile entities, DON’T ACT like hostile entities.

    And secondly, as Millhouse himself pointed out, there’s no way the Israelis could have known it was an unarmed drone at the time.

    ” Israel’s actions are more than sufficient grounds for Iran to declare war upon Israel and, with its allies, attack the state if Israel.”

    Yeah, except they’ve Kinda Already DONE THAT.

    When there was no such grounds.

    Much like Khomenei’s fatwa doing so on the US.

    So the Iranian dictatorship has already shot that particular wad.

    “3)Yes chemical weapons are dangerous. But, so are nuclear weapons.”

    I’d argue that the nature of the actors holding or using them is more dangerous than the things themselves.

    ” North Korea has been detonating nuclear weapons for years and the US has done nothing.”

    North Korea- to the best of our knowledge- isn’t in the grips of a civil war. And even if it is the NorKs have been using them in cloistered testing grounds, not against rebels like the Northwesterners (and thus demonstrating a will and interest in using them in conflict situations).

    The SAR has.

    “And, we KNOW that the DPRK is responsible for that.”

    Indeed.

    “Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on the Kurds, AFTER Gulf War I and the US did not bomb the country. ”

    Uh, mate?

    The US pretty much spent the entire interlude between Gulf War I and Gulf War II BOMBING THE COUNTRY.

    I would know, I’m butt buddies with a former USAF intel wonk who had friends that did it.

    The US response to the Kurds being gassed was to THROW UP A NO FLY ZONE and- here’s the thing- BOMB IRAQI MILITARY ASSETS in those no fly zones.

    So a very contradictory point for you.

    “And, we KNEW Hussein was responsible.”

    See above.

    “Yet, here we DO NOT know that the Assad government is responsible for any chemical release.”

    Perhaps not for certain. But we do know that it is Probable, given the Baathist government’s doctrine about managing its chemical weapons stockpiles leaving it with most of the best gear and the people who understand how to deliver it the best.

    Couple this with prior track records such as a chemical attack occurring soon after an air raid (which is almost EXCLUSIVLEY a loyalist monopoly by this point in the war) on a bunch of anti-government Islamists holding a town.

    And secondly, we know that the Baathists promised to abandon their chemical weapons. They have not. Which makes their word valueless.

    “In fact, we have no independent corroboration that there WAS a chemical munitions release.”

    Perhaps, which is why I am fine with seeing some kind of wait to verify.

    ” And, logic makes it very unlikely that the Assad government would release a chemical weapon at this particular time, as it would only have negative consequences for him.

    Whose logic?

    It is a mistake to assume with certainty that it’s Assad’s. As my friend said,

    “I wouldn’t put it past him. Saddam had no real reason to gas HIS people, and he did.”

    And sure, we could point to the fact that the Kurds and Marsh Arabs were homes to major anti-government revolts at the time, like much of the country in Syria is too. But that didn’t stop Saddam.

    And furthermore it’s worth underlying the problem.

    My friend talks about gassing “HIS people.” But to Assad and Saddam both, what are the chances these are really ‘their” people?

    Saddam’s a Sunni, Baathist Arab. Assad’s an Alawite quasi-Baathist Arab member of a family dynasty.

    Those fighting them are not only rebels and thus declaring themselves Not their people, they also tend to be cultural and religious aliens. The undesireables, if you will, seeming to destabilize and pollute the Baathist body politic by their very existence. A concept supported by their support for rebels.

    The Baathist state and the family dictatorship both men ran/run would benefit from there being an awful lot fewer of them.

    “A chemical release would benefit the US backed and supported rebels, in a PR sense.”

    But not in a military sense. Especially because the rebels- even those who DO work with chemical weapons (and yeah, we know some of them do)- are WOEFULLY underequipped to counter such an attack.

    “As to the US having to stockpile chemical weapons, we already do. Though we have reduced our stockpile from some 57000 metric tonnes of various nerve agents, to a “mere” 5800 metric tonnes, we still have a significant stockpile of such weapons. And, the US will not meet the deadline for detruction of its chemical weapons stockpile as directed under the CWC agreement.”

    Indeed, and that is a fair point. And another reminder about how two faced international law can be. The question is… where do we go from here?

      Mac45 in reply to Turtler. | April 12, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      “Telling Assad to STFU and make damn sure Syria obeys international law?

      Getting even for Assad’s sponsorship of terrorists attacking us and allying with Iran?

      Supporting oru allies like hte Kurds and Israelis?”

      That is fine, IF Syria is violating international law, which has not been proven. As fior the rest that is total BS. If we want to go to warn with Iran, then let’s declare war and git ‘er done. Otherwise, STFU. As to punishing Assad for sponsoring terrorism, what did the US do when it gave financial and materiel support to organizations, some of which it classifies as terrorist organizations, to wage war against Assad? Support the Kurds and Israelis? In the case of the Kurds, if we were serious about that, we would attack Turkey. But, of course we are not serious about that. Israel? I do not see Syria attacking them. Quite the opposite. Israel is attacking Syria, as well as Iranians legitimately in that country. Let’s at least try to stay in touch with reality a little bit.

      “Firstly, we are pretty sure they already tried that. It ended up with a few hundred dead Russians.

      And secondly: it won’t FORCE the Russians to respond. The Russian regime will respond if it thinks it can get away with it. So the best road to peace is not treating Assad with kid gloves. It is convincing the Kremlin and Putin that they cannot POSSIBLY hope to skirt such a retaliation.”

      Actually, the Russians attacked enemies of Assad, the US backed rebels. They used strictly a ground force with no air support composed of personnel who were not officially members of the Russian armed forces. The US directly intervened using US military assets, notably air power. And, yep, the Russians lost. But, what would have happened if the Russians had come to the aid of that force with official Russian air assets?

      You alo make an assumption which is rooted in conjecture. When we attack Syrian government forces and personnel, we commit an act of war and are putting the Russians in the same position that you advocate we are in. They have to quit treating us with kid gloves or lose credibility at home or internationally. And, the Kremlin may just think it is time to convince the US that IT can not escape retaliation for its actions.

      “It’s not Idiotic.

      It is paying due to a sworn enemy at war with them. As we already told you.

      And particularly doing so when said enemy is already on the ground and busy elsewhere. So retaliation is less lucky.

      If Assad and Iran don’t want this kind of stuff to happen, they should STOP conducting terrorism against Israel and us and make peace with the former.”

      I love this reasoning. In the first place, Israel is NOT attacking Syria. It is attacking Iran. Officially, Israel is not at war with Iran. It is invading Syria, the very thing that Israel is using to use to justify its actions. Now, if either the US or Israel feel that they have sufficient justification to attack Iran, or Syria in the case of the US, issue a declaration of war, an international norm, and have at. But, this is not what is happening here. Israel is engaging in the same actions that they attribute to terrorist organizations supported by Syria and Iran, except that they are using official government assets to carry out illegal incursions into Syria and destruction of property and killing people. And, the US is supporting organizations which they have classified themselves as being terrorist organizations to overthrow the legitimate government of Syria. Any real difference there?

      “Uh mate, you’re a few years late to the regional conflict thing. In fact the existence of the Syrian civil war is one reason why the Israeli attacks made more sense.”

      Check your history. There has been no conflict between states in the Middle East since 1991, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, except for Israel unilaterally attacking its neighbors. Such as the bombing of the Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007. Whether they were justified in these actions is debatable.

      “Ok, how do we define a sovereign nation?

      Because the Baathist dictatorship in Damascus fails almost every POSSIBLE test you could set forth to establish such a thing.”

      Wrong. The Assad government meets EVERY reasonable test for a sovereign nation. We might find their internal politics objectionable. But, it has been recognized by most of the world as being the legitimate government of the sovereign nation of Syria for decades.

      “Firstly, the Israelis ARE at war with Assad, as underlined by Assad’s refusal to come to the kind of peace deal that Egypt, Jordan, and even Lebanon have. Assad just softballs that fact and prefers attacking Israel indirectly through proxies rather than directly precisely because he knows what a spanking the Israelis can give if they go all in.

      Especially when he is still dealing with civil war and the possible collapse of his networks.”

      So, exactly what is keeping Israel from directly attacking Syria, if it going to give Assad such a spanking? Using irregular forces to attack a sovereign nation is tantamount to an act of war. So, all Israel has to do is declare war on Syria and invade. Why doesn’t this happen? Because without the threat of US assistance, Israel would be wiped off the map by a concerted action of its Muslim neighbors. Certainly the Israelis would cause a lot of damage to their foes. But, the world has changed since 1967. And, even the possession of nuclear weapons by Israel is not going to save them, if the Arabs decide to take them out.

      What you are describing is a state taking advantage of internal disruption of a neighbor to commit acts which would be possible if the other state could defend its borders efficiently.

      “Firstly, calling Assad a 98something weakling strikes me as misdiagnosing the nature of his power, even in diminished form, over Syria. Syria’s a major regional power in its own right.

      And secondly, the problem is that said not-so-weak-weakling and his big brothers have ALREADY been showing up at our door, breaking our windows, sponsoring people who want to kill us in Iraq and Lebanon, and generally being a douche. While the big brother he’s closest with has been talking about how he wants to make a suitcase dirty bomb for genocidal purposes on Facebook.”

      Syria is a 2nd rate power, at best. And, given the last 8 years of civil war, it is probably closer to a low 3rd rate power. In other words not only a 98# weakling, but a crippled 98# weakling. While the US is the equivalent of a juiced up professional wrestler.

      So, if the US has grounds to actually attack Syria, Iran and Russia for their actions against us, let’s go. Declare war against these countries and square off. But, that is not likely to happen. We are fine with sponsoring terrorists to attack a legitimate government or to use our military to beat up on this crippled weakling. But, we do not have the ba**s to stand up and declare war against our enemies. Right? Or maybe it is simply because we do not want suffer a bloody nose or broken bones by squaring off with an opponent who more nearly matches us. We feel free to attack this cripple because we believe that his big brothers are not going to retaliate. I hope we are right.

      “False.

      The US has the right to self-defense and defense of its troops, like any. YOU YOURSELF acknowledge this alone when you mention it is permissable to cross the border Pancho Villa Style, even if said crossing the border would lead to skirmishes with authorities of the state (AGAIN like the Pancho Villa expedition did).

      In addition to that, there’s the matter of international law, and defense of one’s allies.”

      This is incorrect. In the first place, technically, it was NOT permissible for the US to pursue Pancho Villa into Mexico, without the permission of the Mexican government. But, the Us did it anyway. Why, because we could. And that action is being used to justify our incursion into Syria in pursuit of ISIS. It does not make it either right or even legal. We did it because no one stopped us. And, the reason why we had an ISIS?L problem to begin wit is because WE created the organization by supporting the Syria rebels and then abandoning Iraq, creating a power vacuum in which ISIS/L could grow. ISIS is OUR Frankenstein monster and it is our responsibility to slay the creature.

      If we wish to protect our “allies” from attack by Syria, then all we have to do is to declare war against that country for its acts and then we can legitimately use military force against it. but, that is not happening.

      “A: It’s worth noting for historical perspective that Syria DID protect the actors that would become ISIS. That is why they emerged in Syria and not Iraq under their previous label, AQII. Because the Baathist dictatorship has been providing safe haven to Jihadis attacking Coalition troops in Iraq and Israelis in Israel for a *very long time.*

      It’s just that when the “Arab Spring” broke out a bunch of them bit the hand that fed them and rose against Assad.

      Which establishes a track record of past behavior. Showing that the SAR has supported actors we’ve tried to destroy in the past and probably would have for ISIS if it weren’t for ISIS trying to kill them.”

      No, Assad was not “protecting” the Sunni terrorist groups, most notably Al-Qaeda, from which ISIL split off. In fact, it was those very groups which were actively involved in attempting to overthrow Assad. Assad is an Alawite, which is a Shia sect, and has had close ties to Hezbollah, not Al-Qaeda. It is, of course, ironic that the US is financially and materially supporting Al-Qaeda and its cousin Al-Nusra, both of which the US has classified as terrorist organizations. This is what makes our hostility to Assad so interesting.

      “B: There is more than one reason why we have troops in Syria, not just to destroy IS. If there was, there would be a reason we would have much more overt military presences in places like Mali and elsewhere where IS or its franchsies are active. But we do not. We also have an obligation to hundreds of thousands of refugees under our protection, at least until some kind of agreement can be managed.

      And I can go on.”

      So, the US can look forward to being invaded by Mexico to protect its citizens, who are living here. How about Honduras? This is the argument that we condemned the Russian for when the essentially invaded South Ossetia and the Crimea. You can’t have it both ways. This is simply an excuse and it does not hold water.

      “Sorry, the Iranian state lost its ability to site the law to justify a legal right to be there riiiight around the same time they decided to FARQING STORM EMBASSIES. Starting with the US one but also including the Saudi one.

      It is obvious that the Guardian Council cares NOT A WHIT about legal rights to be there, because the US and Saudi Embassies had MUCH greater legal right to be in Iran than any member of the IRGC has to be in Syria. Full Stop.

      And in light of the Iranian state’s WELL DOCUCMENTED perfidy, declarations of a state of war against outside nations, and sponsorship for terrorism the Israelis have the right to retaliate against Iranian assets.”

      You have this backward. The law applies to everyone. Those who break it are punished for that transgression. And, this punishment takes the form of recognized, lawful actions. The argument that we are free to break the law, because the other party did it first, makes any argument of law irrelevant and makes the law of the jungle the only viable law.

      As I said, if Israel wishes to declare war against Iran, they are free to do so. Under the international rules of warfare, this would make any iranian asset fair game. But, the Israelis have not chosen to do this. Instead, they are behaving exactly as are those they are calling outlaws.

      “Again, the actions of the Iranian and Syrian states more than justify that.

      If you don’t want the Israelis to treat you as hostile entities, DON’T ACT like hostile entities.

      And secondly, as Millhouse himself pointed out, there’s no way the Israelis could have known it was an unarmed drone at the time.”

      Wrong again. The Israelis had plenty of time between the downing of the drone and the launching of the attack inside Syria to learn that the drone was not armed. They knew this before they launched their attack aircraft. Downing the drone was perfectly legitimate. However, attacking targets inside Syria and doing property damage and killing people was far beyond any proportional response. The usual response to incursions of this kind are to down the aircraft and complain to the offending nation and other world bodies. Now, Israel has admitted to flying armed warplanes over Iranian territory, not territory which is dispute, either. If the Iranians catch them doing so, then, by your reasoning, Iran could launch an all out attack upon Israel and they could bring along their allies for their protection.

      “North Korea- to the best of our knowledge- isn’t in the grips of a civil war. And even if it is the NorKs have been using them in cloistered testing grounds, not against rebels like the Northwesterners (and thus demonstrating a will and interest in using them in conflict situations).”

      And your point is what? The DPRK has been threatening both the US and the ROK with nuclear annihilation for years. And they have both nuclear weapons and a limited range delivery system. In the Syrian civil war both sides have used chemical weapons. The US State Department has publicly admitted that Al-Nusra has. So, it sounds as though the US should be hammering them as well. Wait, though. We are supporting Al-Nusra against Assad. Oh well. I guess some pigs are worse than others.

      “Uh, mate?

      The US pretty much spent the entire interlude between Gulf War I and Gulf War II BOMBING THE COUNTRY.

      I would know, I’m butt buddies with a former USAF intel wonk who had friends that did it.

      The US response to the Kurds being gassed was to THROW UP A NO FLY ZONE and- here’s the thing- BOMB IRAQI MILITARY ASSETS in those no fly zones.

      So a very contradictory point for you.”

      Check your history. As you point out, the US was dropping bobs on Iraq during the inter-war years. But, with the exception of Operation Desert Fox, they were almost all aimed at suppressing Iraq AAA in the No-Fly zone. That Desert Fox occurred as the House of Representatives was arguing impeachment charges, was merely a coincidence.

      “Perhaps not for certain. But we do know that it is Probable, given the Baathist government’s doctrine about managing its chemical weapons stockpiles leaving it with most of the best gear and the people who understand how to deliver it the best.

      Couple this with prior track records such as a chemical attack occurring soon after an air raid (which is almost EXCLUSIVLEY a loyalist monopoly by this point in the war) on a bunch of anti-government Islamists holding a town.

      And secondly, we know that the Baathists promised to abandon their chemical weapons. They have not. Which makes their word valueless.”

      It is only possible that Assad released a chemical munition recently. In the first place, we believe, but have no independently confirmed evidence that a gas release even occurred. For the sake of argument we can stipulate that it did. And, further stipulate that the chemical was chlorine gas. Second, we have the fact that both sides in this war have chemical munitions and have used them. Third, we have NO evidence, not merely independently confirmed evidence, but any evidence at all, that the chemical was delivered by the Assad government. Fourth, this was not a moderately sophisticated chemical compound such as sarin gas. It was chlorine gas, which one can produce in ones bathtub using easily obtained household chemicals. So, it is just as likely that the rebels could have possessed it as the government and more likely. And fifth, as this occurred during heavy conventional bombardment, it is also possible that this was an accidental release due to rebel munitions being hit by a bomb.

      As to the Assad government promising to abandon their chemical weapons, so to did the US, We still have almost 5800 metric tonnes of various nerve agents in stock and we are not going to meet the next deadline for reduction. So, what’s good for the goose…

      “But not in a military sense. Especially because the rebels- even those who DO work with chemical weapons (and yeah, we know some of them do)- are WOEFULLY underequipped to counter such an attack.”

      You just went on this long tirade about the civilians in this area not being Assad’s “people”. What makes you think that they are the rebels”people”. And, as we have seen over time, terrorists seem to have NO problem killing even their own supporters to further their cause.

      But, as you point out, it would be tactically unsound. However, if it keeps the most powerful supporter of the rebels, the US, both in the game and in Syria and possibly, gets the US to further damage the ability of the Syrian government to destroy the rebels, then who is more likely to have ordered such a release, Assad or the rebels. However, as I mentioned above, it might have been an accidental release and the rebels are simply taking advantage of it.

      “The question is… where do we go from here?”

      We certainly do not commit ANOTHER act of war against the nation of Syria. We have to do two very important things. First we have to determine the source of the chlorine gas and how it came to be released [if, in fact such a release actually happened]. Second, if we determine it was a voluntary release by the Syrian government, we have to use legal means at our disposal to bring together an international alliance to use legal means to force Assad to stop using chemical weapons. Pretty simple no? Just as in any reasonable system of justice, we punish the guilty using legal, accepted means. Lynching is not an option here.

        Milhouse in reply to Mac45. | April 13, 2018 at 5:53 am

        So, all Israel has to do is declare war on Syria

        This sentence alone shows how off the wall you are. Israel is already at war with Syria, declarations and all.

        As for Iran, it’s at war too, but with no declaration. That doesn’t make the state of war any less real. I don’t know where you get this weird idea that war can’t exist without a declaration. The US courts, at least, have always held the opposite. A declaration of war is a sufficient condition for the existence of a state of war, but not a necessary condition. Hence W Bush’s announcement on the night of 11-Sep-2001 that a state of war existed between the USA and the entire jihadist network of which al Qaeda was just one member. He didn’t declare war on the network — only Congress can do that; what he did was officially recognize that the war was already in progress and had been for some time, and identify the enemy.

        I also don’t know where you got the idea that to punish breaches of international law one must gather a coalition. Doing so is good diplomatically, but it’s not at all necessary. Such breaches are for any nation to put down that can do so, whether acting alone or in company.

Paul In Sweden | April 12, 2018 at 12:26 am

So UN & Amnesty International representatives walk through a vast maze of piles of combatant & civilian corpses to find the dwarfed couple of outlier piles of corpses that they have objection because they were killed by chemical weapons of dubious origin. The USA should not be the lone enforcer of this ‘rule’ of war. Send in the Blue Hats or let the regional states deal with the matter.

Frankly,two or more groups of radical anti-American extremists killing each other in barbaric ways does not interrupt my sleep in the least.

I think Trump should bomb Iran, then tell them to get the hell out of Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon or else. It’s easy to destroy their economy by bombing petro industry.

I am no friend of Assad and Putin, not at all. However, I’m wondering what evidence are there of 1) the use of chemical weapons at all and 2) that it was Assad who used them. It seems that all those reports come from various anti-Assad groups, can’t be really verified, and at times smack of Pallywood production. The thing that puzzles me the most is: why would Assad use chemical weapons against civilians? He has absolutely nothing to gain by it and a lot to lose. International outrage and condemnation and a likely US military strike. So, why would Assad do that? If he has chemical weapons, why would he use them against civilians and not against various military formations he’s fighting?

    Jackie in reply to davidm. | April 12, 2018 at 8:59 am

    Who do you believe? Colin Powell gave a very credible performance at the U.N. and it turned out he was either lying or very misinformed.

      davidm in reply to Jackie. | April 12, 2018 at 9:22 am

      To me, evidence in such a case takes somewhat of a backseat to reason and logic. It was perfectly reasonable and logical to think that Iraq was developing WMD (and I still believe that was the case). However I see absolutely no reason for Assad to use chemical weapons against civilians at this time for reasons I’ve already mentioned. Just saying that he’s a bloodthirsty dictator is not good enough. He may be that, but he’s not crazy.

      Mac45 in reply to Jackie. | April 12, 2018 at 11:03 am

      What everyone forgets about the lack of chemical and biological weapons found in Iraq after the US invasion in 2003, was that Hussein had nearly six months to move them out of the country. There was documented evidence of an exceedingly large number of trucks leaving Iraq for Syria during that period and of Russian military flights into and out of Syria, at the time. Chemical and biological weapons can be produced in a very small area, say a 10,000 sq ft warehouse, using commercially available, duel use equipment, if one is not too concerned about safety.

      We still do not know whether the information presented by Powell was true or not. However, whether chemical and biological weapons were being developed or produced was irrelevant, as Hussein had violated the terms of the cease fire nearly continually since it was agreed to. This more than justified the invasion of Iraq and the deposing of Saddam Hussein.

        davidm in reply to Mac45. | April 12, 2018 at 12:58 pm

        Not everyone has forogotten that. I’ve actually always thought that Syria was a very possible destination for Hussein’s weapons, and indeed he had six months to move them while everyone was sitting around and talking about avoiding the war.

      Paul In Sweden in reply to Jackie. | April 12, 2018 at 2:57 pm

      The huge number of breaches in the ceasefire agreement by Iraq was enough to justify brutally bombing and punishing Iraq. There was also and regrettably enough cause without the weapons of mass destruction to also justify invasion.

      Let us look at the weapons of mass destruction for a moment. Under UN supervision X amount of chemical and biological weapons were identified and under the ceasefire agreement X amount of chemical and biological weapons were to be destroyed under UN supervision. This did not happen. The UN only supervised the destruction of Y amount of chemical and biological weapons. So let us do the math, X – Y = the amount of chemical and biological weapons the UN and everyone else knows were not destroyed under UN supervision. Where did they go? There is no questioning that they existed as they were found, identified and inventoried. So people want to pretend that they never existed, which is absurd.

      Chemical and biological weapons are not stable and have a limited shelf life. If they still exist whoever has them are probably in more danger than the people they intended to use them against.

Phil Salvarado | April 13, 2018 at 10:46 am

You mean Iran hasn’t been threatening Israel all along? Who knew?

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