U.S. and allies prepare to act..UK gathers warplanes in Cyprus..Arab League rejects attack against Syria..this is what they will do!
Positions hardened in the international standoff over Syria, as U.S. officials said privately that a flood of previously undisclosed intelligence, including satellite images and intercepted communications, erased any last administration doubts that the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons against its own people.
French, U.K. and U.S. military officials talked Tuesday about coordinating their response to the alleged attacks.
The current U.S. position, reflected in a set of tough remarks Tuesday by Vice President Joe Biden, represents a dramatic turnaround from last week. As late as Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry was pressuring Syria to let United Nations inspectors visit the affected areas to help determine the veracity of reports of a chemical attack.
Less than 48 hours later came a marked shift in tone. In an email on Sunday, White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice told U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power and other top officials that the U.N. mission was pointless because the chemical weapons evidence already was conclusive, officials said. The U.S. privately urged the U.N. to pull the inspectors out, setting the stage for President Barack Obama to possibly move forward with a military response, officials said.
The weekend turnabout was spurred by new intelligence that convinced Mr. Obama’s top national security advisers that forces loyal to Mr. Assad had used chemical weapons and that they were actively trying to cover up evidence of it even while they shelled the site of the attack, officials said. The White House also became convinced the regime was stalling the U.N. inspection to delay a U.S. response, they said.
One crucial piece of the emerging case came from Israeli spy services, which provided the Central Intelligence Agency with intelligence from inside an elite special Syrian unit that oversees Mr. Assad’s chemical weapons, Arab diplomats said. The intelligence, which the CIA was able to verify, showed that certain types of chemical weapons were moved in advance to the same Damascus suburbs where the attack allegedly took place a week ago, Arab diplomats said.
The U.S. position changed rapidly.
“Warplanes and military transporters” have reportedly been moved to Britain’s Akrotiri airbase in Cyprus in the latest sign of the allied forces’ preparations for a military strike on Syria amid bellicose rhetoric against the Syrian government.
Two commercial pilots who regularly fly from Larnaca, Cyprus, claim to have spotted C-130 transport planes from their own aircraft and small formations of possibly European fighter jets from their radar screens, according to the Guardian.
Akrotiri airbase is less than 100 miles from Syria, making it a likely hub for a bombing campaign. Residents near the airfield confirmed to the Guardian that “activity there has been much higher than normal over the past 48 hours.”
The upsurge in flight activity has been denied by a spokesman for Britain’s airbases in Cyprus, Reuters reported, also citing Cyprus’s Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides as saying that he doubted the airbases would be used if Western powers did take action against Syria.
“I have the impression that the British bases won’t play any primary role… because they are not needed, but we will have to see,” Kasoulides told Cypriot state radio.
Downing Street says armed forces are drawing up contingency plans for military action in Syria, Reuters reported.
The leaders of the Arab world on Tuesday blamed the Syrian government for a chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds of people last week, but declined to back a retaliatory military strike, leaving President Obama without the broad regional support he had for his last military intervention in the Middle East, in Libya in 2011.
While the Obama administration has robust European backing and more muted Arab support for a strike on Syria, the position of the Arab League and the unlikelihood of securing authorization from the United Nations Security Council complicate the legal and diplomatic case for the White House.
The White House said Tuesday that there was “no doubt” that President Bashar al-Assad’s government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack — an assessment shared by Britain, France and other allies — but it has yet to make clear if it has any intelligence directly linking Mr. Assad to the attack. The administration said it planned to provide intelligence on the attack later this week.
As Mr. Obama sought to shore up international support for military action, telephoning Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, administration officials said they did not regard the lack of an imprimatur from the Security Council or the Arab League as insurmountable hurdles, given the carnage last week.
Administration officials have declined to spell out the legal justification that Mr. Obama would use in ordering a strike, beyond saying that the large-scale use of chemical weapons violates international norms. But officials said he could draw on a range of treaties and statutes, from the Geneva Conventions to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Mr. Obama, they said, could also cite the need to protect a vulnerable population, as his Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton, did in ordering NATO’s 78-day air campaign on Kosovo in 1999. Or he could invoke the principle of “responsibility to protect,” which some officials cited to justify the American-led bombing campaign in Libya.
Here’s why the U.S. is so sure that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s government was behind a deadly chemical attack on August 21: U.S. intelligence listened in on a phone call between a Syrian Ministry of Defense official and someone at the country’s chemical defense unit. That call, according to a report at Foreign Policy, is more or less why the U.S. is certain that Assad’s government bears responsibility for the massacre near Damascus.
Based on the evidence, the U.S. is all but certain to take some course of limited military retaliation against the Syrian army for the chemical attacks carried out in Syria. While President Obama is still officially considering his options, there’s little evidence to suggest that the U.S. will continue to stick solely to a diplomatic approach towards the country.
Required Sorties and Weapons to Degrade Syrian Air Force Excluding Integrated Air Defense System (IADS)
i had to include a picture of colin powell..lest we forget..
so the israelis have an email eh..when do i start laughing?
“One crucial piece of the emerging case came from Israeli spy services, which provided the Central Intelligence Agency with intelligence from inside an elite special Syrian unit”
there is no evidence..they are making and creating evidence right now to display to the world and it will be flimsier than iraq and the WMD..the last link shows exactly what they want to do with their window of opportunity and hit syria so hard they cant recover and the rebels will do the rest..this is all about regime change..not chemical weapons..
“it has yet to make clear if it has any intelligence directly linking Mr. Assad to the attack. The administration said it planned to provide intelligence on the attack later this week.”