Why the Syrian Gas Attack Is Probably Fake
Dirty tricks are like favourite records: play them too much and they get jaded. We haven’t heard about gas attacks in Syria for some time, but now, once again, the media — and, sadly, the Trump administration — is in overdrive about what is claimed to be a gas attack on the Syrian town of Khan Sheikoun by the Assad government.
First of all, the use of gas should not be regarded as particularly “evil” in a war that has also seen bombing and shelling of civilian areas as a matter of course, not to mention all the refinements to cruelty that ISIS and their like have introduced. But it is. We get it. Gas is “evil,” and you’re very, very bad if you use it. OK? So, stop!
But this means that gas attacks are also an extremely useful means of propaganda — but only if your opponents are seen to do them. In fact, this negative propaganda effect totally outweighs gas’s military benefits. And, yes, using gas may have military benefits, although in this case it’s hard to see how any possible benefits could outweigh the costs in terms of increasing the level of Western hostility.
An important precedent is the major gas attack, apparently by sarin rockets, that took place in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta in 2013 in which from between 350 and 1,400 people died.
Now, horrific as the attack was, there was a certain logic in it that made blaming the Syrian government plausible. The Syrian army was fighting street-to-street, house-to-house, trying to recapture urban territory, which any professional soldier can tell you is a nightmare for soldiers and civilian population alike. A way round this would be to use gas to clear out nests of entrenched opposition to make advances and pacification possible. Not ideal, obviously, but a way to break the deadlock and get a result. So, when the Ghouta attacks happened they at least made sense in a basic military tactical sense.
But any gains in this respect — and there weren’t many, as four years later Ghouta is still held by anti-Assad rebels — were soon outweighed by the negative international and diplomatic backlash, with the Obama and Cameron governments using the “propaganda” value of the attacks to push for military intervention.
Only strong countermeasures by the Russians, who claimed the attacks were false flag attacks designed to prepare the way for Western intervention, and a strong Russian commitment to support Assad, prevented this gas attack — false flag or not — becoming the death knell of the Assad government. Indeed, it is highly doubtful that the attack was carried out by the Assad government.
Obviously gas attacks are an extremely risky and inefficient option for anyone, but especially the Assad government, so it simply doesn’t make sense that they would do this on purpose now. In fact there are a whole list of reasons why this couldn’t be a willful use of poison gas by the Assad government.
Read the rest at The Occidental Observer.