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Israel Invents Syrian WMD Threat, IDF Commanders Threaten Intervention

syrian alleged chemical weapons

Graphic from right-wing website touting danger of Syrian WMD

Syria appears to be entering an even more chaotic and dangerous period in its civil war now that Israeli officials are concocting potential threats that must be addressed by Israeli intervention.  The latest series of stories derives from U.S. and Israeli intelligence circles and suggests that Syria has a “vast stockpile” (Wall Street Journal) or “hundreds of tons” (Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News) of chemical weapons that could fall into the hands of Al Qaeda, Iran’s ayatollahs or God knows who, should Bashar al-Assad’s regime fall.  Naturally, Israel would have to protect its interests and intervene to prevent this from happening:

Hundreds of tonnes of Syria’s stockpile of deadly nerve gas could fall into the hands of terrorist groups if the regime of Bashar al-Assad falls apart amid widening concerns that Israel could go to war to try to stop this ‘Doomsday threat‘.

The fact that this would give Israel a further opportunity to tweak its Iranian enemy and ensure the installation of a pro-Israel puppet regime in Syria would of course be entirely incidental and unintentional.

The Sky News report in particular seems to be pure garbage, claiming to know the locations of all chemical warfare labs in the country plus additional storage sites.  The report provides no attribution or source, not even an anonymous one.  According to Sky, Al Qaeda is not only active in Syria, but has specifically told its member to get their hands on chemical weapons.  Again no quotations or source offered to bolster the claim.  To hear Sky tell it, missiles filled with Sarin and other potent nerve gases are sitting on launching pads waiting either for Assad to launch them or for the rebels to get their fingers on the button.  And of course the rockets can hit “any location in Israel,” the required hysteria inducing phrase harkening back to Saddam’s SCUDs and other visions of Zionist apocalypse.

Here is former Mossad chief Danny Yatom nicely hitting all the grace notes of hasbara interventionism :

Israel is deeply concerned that Assad may deliberately give Hezbollah chemical weapons – or that they could end up in the hands of other terror groups. In either case, this could lead to a regional war, Danny Yatom, the former head of Mossad warned.

“The conventional wisdom should be that we cannot exclude a non-conventional attack on Israel. We would have to pre-empt in order to prevent it. We need to be prepared to launch even military attacks… and military attacks mean maybe a deterioration to war,” he told Sky News.

Though on its face, Yatom is advocating for Israeli intervention, it’s also possible he’s playing the not so subtle game of pressuring the U.S. and its allies to act by threatening to act if they don’t do so first.  The operative thinking would be saying to the Americans: if you don’t do something, we will; since you won’t like how we’ll handle this, you better take care of it yourself.”

Israel seems to be laying down its marker and saying it too has an interest in determining the nature of the next Syrian regime.  Israel will go to very great lengths to ensure it does not have a proto-Iranian regime on its front doorstep, even to the extent of directly intervening.  All of which would be devastating not just for Syria, but for the entire region.  Israeli “intervention” into affairs in Iran, Lebanon and Gaza has greatly destabilized those countries and wreaked general mayhem.  More of this sort of “help” the Middle East does not need.

Here’s more unfounded hysteria on behalf of interventionism:

There are widespread fears that a Gaddafi-style collapse of Syria into chaos, would mean that chemical weapons would spread around the globe.

Yes, of course widespread fears.  So widespread we don’t even have to tell you who specifically is afraid and of what.  People, we’ve seen this movie before and it was a stinker the first time.  Do we need to see it again to know just how bad the sequel is?  The original was called Bush Brings You Iraqi WMD.  Remember those mushrooms clouds Condi Rice pictured for your visual delectation?  Isn’t it a bit like having déjà vu all over again, to paraphrase Yogi Berra?

No less a Hero of Zion than Yair Naveh, IDF deputy chief of staff, is also getting into the act:

Major general Yair Naveh, the deputy chief of staff of the Israeli Defence Force, recently warned a private congregation at a Jerusalem synagogue that Syria’s chemical weapons posed a mortal threat to the Jewish State.

“As for Syria, we all hear the news … (if)  Syrians … behave this way to their people it is clear … how they will behave towards us – to our sons – when they get the opportunity against us, with the largest chemical weapons arsenal in the world, with missiles and rockets that cover all of Israel”.

Naveh is also quoted more extensively in this AFP article.  If the name sounds familiar, this is the same Yair Naveh who ordered the execution of unarmed Palestinians in contravention of Israeli Supreme Court rulings.  News of which was leaked by Anat Kamm to Uri Blau, all of which landed both of them in court (and her in prison), while Naveh earned a promotion for his trouble.

Though WSJ is also a Murdoch media trophy, it has slighter higher standards and actually notes how problematic this entire issue can be:

Because of the faulty intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction that were used to justify the Iraq war, U.S. officials are extremely cautious about using reports of Mr. Assad’s chemical stockpiles to support military intervention.

But note that this is precisely what the WSJ, Sky, and similar media reports are doing: ratcheting up pressure for regime change.  The war hawk camp in the Obama administration makes no bones about this and beats the drums of war using every available weapon to do so:

“The regime has a plan for ethnic cleansing, and we must come to terms with this,” the first U.S. official said. “There is no diplomatic solution.”

But the statement simply has no basis either in fact or even in fantasy.  But “ethnic cleansing” does have such a nice genocidal ring to it.  Just the thing to rouse the quiescent world from its moral slumber.

Unnamed “opposition leaders” (and you know how reliable those folks have been lately) further buttress the ethnic cleansing meme:

Opposition leaders maintain there are increasing indications that the Damascus regime is trying to cleanse strategic areas, such as Hama and Homs, of Sunnis in order to set up an ethnic state that could be defended by the Assads’ Allawite [sic] ethnic minority.

No word on who these opposition leaders are or what the “increasing indications” specifically are.  Of course not.  What do you expect?  Facts, evidence.  C’mon.

To be clear, I harbor no affection for Assad and his regime.  If there was an effective way to end his rule and guarantee the Syrian people would have a genuine representative government–I’d be all for it.  But as it is, Syria is likely to get a domestic version of Ahmad Chalabi, rather than a real Syrian nationalist patriot to run its government.  At least, that’s what I fear will happen if the west and Israel try to cast their typical spell on the country, bringing the “birth pangs of a new Middle East” as Israel did to Lebanon in 2006 (remember Condi’s infamous line?).

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • free man July 13, 2012, 6:25 AM

    There is no Israeli interest to invade Syria.
    Some basics in how interest plays:
    Syria is an enemy of Israel, right now it is weakening itself by civil war.
    A possible Israeli invasion will stop the war and round all the Syrian against a common outside enemy.
    Claiming Israel plan to invade Syria only strengthens the Assad regime. It enables him to massacre more of his people.
    I wonder why do you fall to this trap to help that monster’s propaganda ?
    As for the western world, Israelis see how no one lifts a finger to help the Syrian people and draw their conclusions as to how many risks they will be willing to take for future peace.

    • Richard Silverstein July 13, 2012, 1:53 PM

      I’m not the one who originated the idea of Israel invading Syria, your own generals did. Take up with them the issue of why they thought it was a good idea. Perhaps you need to be on the General Staff instead of them?

      • free man July 13, 2012, 3:45 PM

        Only you did not quote a General stuff member saying Israel will invade Syria.
        The only person who said something close to it is Yatom, who has been a minor political figure for quite some time.
        You failed however to address my argument on whether such a claim makes sense, and who benefits from such rumors. I take it you agree with me on that, but you try to mock me to circumvent the issue.

        • Richard Silverstein July 13, 2012, 5:47 PM

          Naveh isn’t a member of the General Staff? Or did you forget he’s deputy chief of staff?

          As for making sense, if it was sense I was looking for I wouldn’t seek it in the IDF’s officer command or the Mossad.

          As for mocking you, well I plead guilty to that though we still manage to deal with substance.

  • Fred Plester July 13, 2012, 11:39 AM

    Syria does have SOME chemical weapons.
    However, these were all supplied by the Soviets in the early seventies, and I’m a very doubtful about tales of laboratories and factories in Syria: the Soviets supplied ready-made weapons precisely in order to forestall any Syrian attempt to make such things independently.

    The munitions probably weren’t brand new when supplied, so are now well over forty years old: the most frightening thing about their being moved, is the possibility of horrendous accident.
    The stockpile will mostly be 122mm rockets and large calibre mortar shells: the Soviets retained some really big mortars in their order of battle mainly for the sake of chemical weapons delivery.

    Saddam did actually have chemical weapons, even if he’d disposed of them before Alistair Campbell edited the notorious dossier on the subject, and he used them in comparable circumstances to those which Assad now faces.

    I don’t really anticipate their deliberate use (I could also be wrong) but it’s inaccurate to insist that Assad does not have these things, because he does. What’s unknown is the condition of the ready-filled munitions in a hot country after forty years.

    What you might see, is an attempt to convince the Free Syria Army that any ambush on a government convoy might release clouds of poison, which the propaganda machine can blame the rebels for.

    My expectation, though, is that amid a well-organized barrage of denials that the stockpile ever resisted, it will move to Tartrus and aboard Russian naval ships, which will spirit it away to a remote, if not a safe, location.

    Sarin doesn’t need to be used in hundred-ton amounts to completely transform the way the world sees the relative menace of chemical and nuclear weapons. It doesn’t even need to be used on purpose.

  • dickerson3870 July 13, 2012, 3:56 PM

    RE: “Israel Invents Syrian WMD Threat, IDF Commanders Threaten Intervention” ~ R.S.

    MY COMMENT: Nothing the Israeli government says should be trusted under any circumstances. Uri Avnery’s article as excerpted below is a testament to the virtually limitless duplicity of the Israeli government.

    ARTICLE:“The War of Lies” , by Uri Avnery, gush-shalom.org, 09/06/12

    [EXCERPTS]Thirty Years ago this week, the Israeli army crossed into Lebanon and started the most stupid war in Israel’s history. It lasted for 18 years. About 1500 Israeli soldiers and untold numbers of Lebanese and Palestinians were killed.
    Almost all wars are based on lies. Lies are considered legitimate instruments of war. Lebanon War I (as it was later called) was a glorious example.
    From beginning to end (if it has ended yet) it was a war of deceit and deception, falsehoods and fabrications.
    THE LIES started with the official name: “Operation Peace in Galilee”.

    If one asks Israelis now, 99.99% of them will say with all sincerity: “We had no choice. They launched katyushas at the Galilee from Lebanon every day. We had to stop them.” TV anchormen and anchorwomen, as well as former cabinet ministers have been repeating this throughout the week. Quite sincerely. Even people who were already adults at the time.
    The simple fact is that for 11 months before the war, not a single shot was fired across the Israeli-Lebanese border. A cease-fire was in force and the Palestinians on the other side of the border kept it scrupulously. To everybody’s surprise, Yasser Arafat succeeded in imposing it on all the radical Palestinian factions, too.
    At the end of May, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon met with Secretary of State Alexander Haig in Washington DC. He asked for American agreement to invade Lebanon. Haig said that the US could not allow it, unless there were a clear and internationally recognized provocation.
    And lo and behold, the provocation was provided at once. Abu Nidal, the anti-Arafat and anti-PLO master terrorist, sent his own cousin to assassinate the Israeli ambassador in London, who was grievously wounded.

    In retaliation, Israel bombed Beirut and the Palestinians fired back, as expected. The Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, allowed Sharon to invade Lebanese territory up to 40 km, “to put the Galilee settlements out of reach of the katyushas.”
    When one of the intelligence chiefs told Begin at the cabinet meeting that Abu Nidal’s organization was not a member of the PLO, Begin famously answered: “They are all PLO”.
    General Matti Peled, my political associate at the time, firmly believed that Abu Nidal had acted as an agent of Sharon. So do all the Palestinians I know.
    The lie “they shot at us every day” has taken such a hold on the public mind that it is nowadays useless to dispute it. It is an illuminating example of how a myth can take possession of the public mind, including even of people who had seen with their own eyes that the opposite was true.
    NINE MONTHS before the war, Sharon told me about his plan for a New Middle East. . .
    . . . His design for the region, as told me then (and which I published nine months before the war), was:

    • To attack Lebanon and install a Christian dictator who would serve Israel,
    • Drive the Syrians out of Lebanon,
    • Drive the Palestinians out of Lebanon into Syria, from where they would then be pushed by the Syrians into Jordan.
    • Get the Palestinians to carry out a revolution in Jordan, kick out King Hussein and turn Jordan into a Palestinian state,
    • Set up a functional arrangement under which the Palestinian state (in Jordan) would share power in the West Bank with Israel.
    Being a single-minded operator, Sharon convinced Begin to start the war, telling him that the sole aim was to push the PLO 40 km back. . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to zope.gush-shalom.org

  • Aikido July 13, 2012, 8:34 PM


    Israel has very good intelligence on Syria. In fact, as you may recall, the IAF sent its Shaldag commandos to laser the site the day before and struck it to elimination in September of 2007 as project code name Operation Orchard.

    Here, they are not far off whatsoever. Syria indeed is rife with chemical weapons, all of which Assad possesses, and Israel is the primary target. He is no Saddam Hussein, he has the type of air defense that would eliminates air superiority as an option virtually. Additionally, he’s being immediately propped by Putin. Speaking of, the Polonium finding was timely with the Russian visit.

    The walls are closing in on Israel and the only way it can show that it means to survive is to move in and take down Assad with a sh*t eating grin on its face. You understand, every nation has a right to defend itself.

    • John Welch July 15, 2012, 7:36 PM

      What will the Israeli Army do when it meets the Turkish Army? Say, “ooops…about that flotilla thing…”

    • Davey July 17, 2012, 12:19 PM

      “The walls are closing in …”??? From 1948 on, the walls have been “closing in” . Despite the neutralizing of Egypt, the destruction of the Iraqi military threat, the imprisonment of most Palestinians, the destruction of Lebanon twice over, the annexation and occupation of other people’s hilltops, American support of $3.1 billion per annum, American cooperation in reducing Iran’s threat, etc. etc. despite all this, the walls are still “closing in.” Israel is a paranoid delusion, the proper afterbirth of racist Zionism. I always favored change in Israel, but self-awareness and decency may not be enough. No state that “means to survive” could have missed, and continue to miss, so many opportunities to make a peace. Nations can do more than “defend itself”, they can make deals. The failure to make deals is what dooms Israel.

  • overlook July 13, 2012, 11:06 PM

    Cynicism beyond words.
    It seems that the plight of the Syrian people has become the playground of some morally-empty bloggers.

    • Richard Silverstein July 14, 2012, 12:28 AM

      No, the plight of the Syrian people has become the playground of some morally empty Israeli generals and politicians. Since when, by the way, have you ever expressed any sympathy for the plight of the Syrian people? Can you point to any such expressions from you that aren’t allied with a calculation that the mess in Syria could be a silver lining for Israel?

      • Fred Plester July 14, 2012, 3:04 AM

        I believe the Japanese expression is “Thieves at the fire”.

        Syria’s chemical weapons capability consists of a Soviet-supplied legacy stockpile, Israel’s consists of a modest self-manufactured stockpiled with ongoing manufacturing capability and materials on hand to produce lots more at very short notice. The threat of retaliation in kind will probably suffice to deter any deliberate use against Israel, or transfer to someone who wanted to.

        The threat of retaliation won’t deter accidents, though, and because this is an old stockpile and not the new thing Sky News would have you believe, an accident is quite likely.

        Russia supplied the stockpile, Russia must be encouraged or compelled to remove it. That’s the only solution, all the other options are simply ways of replacing a problem with a catastrophe. Russia does have mobile incinerators and automated handling equipment designed for precisely the types of chemical munitions that Syria has: it’s technically easier, as well as politically easier, for Russia to accomplish this than any Western power, let alone Israel, which really isn’t equipped to dismantle such a stockpile without mishap even if some military miracle gave them control of it.

  • Ayelyah July 14, 2012, 1:51 AM

    [comment deleted–Dear Comment Troll: If you want to smear this website by publishing the sort of garbage you posted you’ll have to be a little more subtle. As it is your trollishness sticks out like a sore thumb]

  • Fred Plester July 14, 2012, 6:01 AM

    It appears that the IDF officers nearest to the actual intelligence, are saying that the Syrian army appears to be simply securing the chemical weapons stockpile.

    It’s the media, especially the Murdoch-owned media, which is beating the war drums, with some help from the US State Department, Hasbara, Israeli politicians and politically-ambitious generals.

    The stockpile is being presented as something new, too, which it isn’t.

    That being said, something does need to be done about it, which is probably what the Syrian army is thinking.

  • Orm Girvan July 16, 2012, 5:03 AM

    But, Richard, all those Yankee ducks sitting on the pond, waiting to be cooked – an opportunity too good to pass up for yisrael. Russia will be delighted to partake of the feast. Dumb Yanks, lost every war they have been dragged into.

  • Davey July 17, 2012, 12:23 PM

    RS — what was Condi’s famous ine?

    • Richard Silverstein July 18, 2012, 1:44 AM

      We’re seeing the “birth pangs of democracy” in the new Middle East.

  • KH July 21, 2012, 12:43 PM

    It was reported by a former Lebanese army official that the Syrian regime cannot use the chemical weapons without the permission of Russia who supplied it to them in the first place. He said he doubts they will be used because not only will Russia not allow it but also because Russia will act very ‘aggressively’ if they did. An Israeli invasion of Lebanon is much more likely than an invasion of Syria because let us not forget that Egypt has changed, and now Israel cannot ignore the southern border like it did for the past 40 years.

  • Linda July 23, 2012, 8:59 AM

    Hello Richard,

    I am English and married into a Syrian family, so I know a little more than some on the Arab mentality. Before the latest crisis a woman could walk at 3 – 4 in the morning on her own and never worry about being raped or attacked, for the simple reason her attacker would be beaten to a pulp by the police. The west call this dictatorship , I call it freedom.

    You mentioned Murdoch and I thought you might be interested in this article. Murdoch in Australia. As you are aware the Australians are drip fed Murdoch’s bile and hatred for the muslim world on a daily basis.

    link to themurdochempireanditsnestofvipers.blogspot.com.es

    Thank-you for your interesting article.

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