UN Inspection in Syria to Begin Monday. Iran warns White House not to Cross Red Line
by Christof Lehmann
(nsnbc) ,- The Syrian government and the UN have agreed that the UN inspection team will begin investigating the alleged chemical weapons use in the countryside of Damascus on Monday. The announcement was made amidst Western threats of the use of military force against Syria, US warships being positioned for cruise missile attacks and Iranian warnings not to set the Middle East on fire by crossing the red line in Syria. China warns that inspections have to be objective and asks UN Inspectors to fully cooperate with the Syrian authorities.
The Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry has announced that the Syrian government and the United Nations have reached a mutual understanding that enters into force immediately. The agreement allows the UN Inspection Team to begin investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in Ghouta, in the countryside of the Syrian capital Damascus already on Monday.
The parties have agreed, that the team, which is headed by Ake Sellstrom, shall coordinate with the Syrian government on the date and time of the team´s visit to the sites of the alleged chemical weapons use. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Syria´s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem and the UN High Representative for Disarmament, Angela Kane earlier today, on Sunday 25 August.
The UN Inspection Team arrived in Syria on the invitation of Syria and after Syria, supported by Russia insisted that the UN would deploy the team. Due to pressure from predominantly the USA and UK, the UN initially rejected to detach the team to Syria unless the team was granted sweeping authorities to inspect any location in Syria at any time.
Syria, supported by Russia and China rejected the demand, stressing the negative experience with an equivalent strategy in Iraq and the negative outcomes which have led to a war on false WMD claims. Syria has, from the first incidence of chemical weapons use in Syria on, persistently demanded that each individual case of chemical weapons use must be investigated by an independent team of experts. The UN accepted the Syrian invitation in July, after the Syrian Arab Army seized large chemical stockpiles from foreign-backed insurgents in Banias, near Tartus.
Today, the Syrian State TV cited al-Moallem for having expressed Syria´s readiness to cooperate with the UN Inspectors to expose false allegations made by the terrorist groups who are accusing Syrian armed forces for having used chemical weapons in eastern Ghouta. The TV channel quotes the Ministry, saying:
“An agreement has been concluded today (Sunday 25 August 2013) in Damascus, between the Syrian government and the United Nations, during the visit of the UN High Representative for Disarmament, Angela Kane, to allow the UN Team, led by Professor Aake Sellstrom to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in the province of Damascus. The agreement has immediate effect”.
The United Nations on its part, announced that its chemical weapons experts would begin investigating the site in the Damascus suburb Ghouta already on Monday, less than 24 hours after the agreement has been reached.
Because the Damascus suburb Ghouta is currently being held by foreign-backed insurgents, there have been concerns about the safety of the members of the inspection team and whether the opposition forces would try to stall a probe into the alleged attack to provoke a military response from the United States, the UK or France. The Syrian government pledged to impose a ceasefire during the inspections.
So far, there have not been any official statements from the leader of the foreign-backed opposition, Ahmed Assi Jaber, whether the opposition forces would adhere to a cease fire. Besides, many experts and analysts doubt whether the political leader of the opposition, Assi Jaber, would be able to speak on behalf of the terrorist groups which are present in Ghouta.
The announcement of the agreement between the Syrian government and the United Nations was made amidst increasingly bellicose statements from the USA, UK and France, an escalation of the United States military posture towards Syria and Iranian warnings against military strikes against targets inside the country.
Earlier the United States and Britain alleged that the Syrian government was reluctant to give the UN Inspection Team access to the site of the alleged chemical weapons attack, saying that the Syrian government “has something to hide”, and that the Syrian government was playing on time “to degrade the evidence”.
Not long before the announcement that an agreement had been reached, a senior US official, referring to the Syrian Arab Army, said that “there was very little doubt that chemical weapons had been used by the Assad forces”.
Yesterday, the U.S. administration decided to move an additional cruise missile ship, the USS Mahn into the Eastern Mediterranean and to move all four cruise missile ships, including the USS Mahn closer to the Syrian coast and within striking range.
The escalation of the United States´ Military posture against Syria yesterday, followed by today´s bellicose statements, prompted the Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran´s armed forces, Massoud Jazayeri, to issue a statement, warning the United States not to cross the red line on Syria and that threatening Syria would have severe consequences for the White House. Earlier, Iranian officials said that a strike against Syria would create very serious fallout for the entire region. The independent Iranian news agency FARS quoted Iran´s Deputy Chief of Staff, Jazayeri, as saying:
“America knows the limitation of the red line of the Syrian front and any crossing of Syria´s red line will have severe consequences for the White House”.
Also Syria´s Minister of Information, Omran al-Zoubi, warned the White House against any military intervention as an act that would inflame the Middle East. The Syrian Arab News Agency, SANA, quotes al-Zoubi as saying:
“U.S. Military intervention will create very serious fallout and a ball of fire that will inflame the Middle East”.
The Syrian response and warning comes as a response to a string of bellicose Western threats. On Saturday a spokesperson of the British P.M. David Cameron said that both the UK and the USA have tasked officials to examine all options. Also on Saturday, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, said that ” the Defense Department is prepared to exercise whatever option if he (Pres. Obama) decides to employ one of those options”.
Also on Saturday, the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey, reportedly presented initial preparations for a cruise missile attack on Syria at a White House meeting. Subsequently, the U.S. Media report that four U.S. Navy destroyers, the USS Ramage, the USS Gravely, the USS Barry and the USS Mahn are being positioned in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Dempsey has recently visited Jordan to coordinate the US, Jordanian and “opposition´s” military activities. Dempsey´s visit coincided with new, major arms deliveries to the insurgents from Saudi Arabia via Jordan. U.S. Special Forces in Jordan are reportedly training insurgents in “securing captured chemical weapons”.
On Friday, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the UN Chemical Weapons Team to fully consult with the Syrian government and to maintain an objective stance. A spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry said to a journalist from the Reuters news agency:
” The UN chemical weapons team in Syria is on the ground and have started inquiries… China hopes that the UN team would fully consult with the Syrian government and maintain an objective, impartial and professional stance, to ascertain what really happened. ‘China’s stance is clear enough regardless of which side is using chemical weapons in Syria… China objects it decisively”.
The large scale use of chemical weapons in Syria, whether alleged or real, in August 2013, does not come as a surprise. In early July, a Palestinian intelligence source issued a report to nsnbc international, warning that the foreign-backed, political and military opposition in Syria, as well as the international alliance of nations who are supporting the insurgency, had planned to commit large scale chemical weapons attacks in Syria in August and September 2013.
The Palestinian intelligence source explicitly stated, that these large scale chemical weapons attacks in August and September 2013 would be committed with the explicit purpose to justify renewed calls for the establishment of humanitarian corridors, the enforcement of a no-fly-zone over Syria, and eventually a military intervention.
This article was originally published in nsnbc http://nsnbc.me/
Special Thanks to Dr. Christof Lehmann and the nsnbc team
About the Author
Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc. He is a psychologist and independent political consultant on conflict and conflict resolution and a wide range of other political issues. His work with traumatized victims of conflict has led him to also pursue the work as political consultant. He is a lifelong activist for peace and justice, human rights, Palestinians rights to self-determination in Palestine, and he is working on the establishment of international institutions for the prosecution of all war crimes, also those committed by privileged nations. On 28 August 2011 he started his blog nsnbc, appalled by misrepresentations of the aggression against Libya and Syria. In March 2013 he turned nsnbc into a daily, independent, international on-line newspaper. He can be contacted at nsnbc international at firstname.lastname@example.org
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