Saturday, October 12, 2013
Why Syria? AMMAN, Jordan—The oil ministers of Iraq, Iran and Syria Monday signed a preliminary agreement for a $10 billion natural-gas-pipeline deal, the official Iranian News Agency IRNA and other Iranian media reported. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424053111903591104576467631289250392 The document was inked in the Assalouyeh industrial region located in the southern province of Bushehr by Iranian oil minister Mohammad Aliabadi, Iraq's oil minister Abdul Kareem Luaiby, and Syrian counterpart Sufian Alow, the agency said. Iraqi oil officials confirmed that Mr. Luaiby was in Iran to sign the agreement. They gave no further details. Iranian oil officials said Syria would purchase between 20 million to 25 million cubic meters a day of Iranian gas. Iraq has already signed a deal with Tehran to purchase up to 25 million cubic meters a day to feed its power stations. The project requires some $10 billion investment and will be constructed within three years, the semi-official Iranian news agency Mehr reported. The pipeline length is more than 1,500 kilometers and will run from Assalouyeh to Damascus while passing through Iraq, with a transfer capacity of 110 million cubic meters of natural gas a day, it said. The gas will be produced from the Iranian South Pars gas field in the Gulf, which Iran shares with Qatar, and holds estimated reserves of 16 trillion cubic meters of recoverable gas. Iranian officials have said Iran is producing some 600 million cubic meters of gas a day, of which only 37 million cubic meters are exported. Tehran also aims to extend the pipeline to Lebanon and the Mediterranean to supply gas to Europe, they said. Iran has been approaching its allies in the region such as Iraq and Syria to export its gas after western firms have pulled out of Iran's lucrative energy sector because of international dispute over Tehran's nuclear program, which the West and the U.S. suspect is aimed at producing nuclear bombs. The report noted especially that Syria is among several "downstream countries that are becoming increasingly water scarce as their populations grow", increasing a risk of conflict. Thus, although the RAND document fell far short of recognising the prospect of an 'Arab Spring', it illustrates that three years before the 2011 uprisings, US defence officials were alive to the region's growing instabilities, and concerned by the potential consequences for stability of Gulf oil. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/aug/30/syria-chemical-attack-war-intervention-oil-gas-energy-pipelines These strategic concerns, motivated by fear of expanding Iranian influence, impacted Syria primarily in relation to pipeline geopolitics. In 2009 - the same year former French foreign minister Dumas alleges the British began planning operations in Syria - Assad refused to sign a proposed agreement with Qatar that would run a pipeline from the latter's North field, contiguous with Iran's South Pars field, through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets - albeit crucially bypassing Russia. Assad's rationale was "to protect the interests of [his] Russian ally, which is Europe's top supplier of natural gas." Instead, the following year, Assad pursued negotiations for an alternative $10 billion pipeline plan with Iran, across Iraq to Syria, that would also potentially allow Iran to supply gas to Europe from its South Pars field shared with Qatar. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the project was signed in July 2012 - just as Syria's civil war was spreading to Damascus and Aleppo - and earlier this year Iraq signed a framework agreement for construction of the gas pipelines. The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline plan was a "direct slap in the face" to Qatar's plans. No wonder Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, in a failed attempt to bribe Russia to switch sides, told President Vladmir Putin that "whatever regime comes after" Assad, it will be "completely" in Saudi Arabia's hands and will "not sign any agreement allowing any Gulf country to transport its gas across Syria to Europe and compete with Russian gas exports", according to diplomatic sources. When Putin refused, the Prince vowed military action. It would seem that contradictory self-serving Saudi and Qatari oil interests are pulling the strings of an equally self-serving oil-focused US policy in Syria, if not the wider region. It is this - the problem of establishing a pliable opposition which the US and its oil allies feel confident will play ball, pipeline-style, in a post-Assad Syria - that will determine the nature of any prospective intervention: not concern for Syrian life. TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has started construction on a $10 billion natural gas pipeline to key ally Syria, a news agency reported Monday, in an apparent nod of support to President Bashar Assad's embattled regime and a further attempt by Tehran to boost energy exports battered by international sanctions. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/iran-starts-building-gas-pipeline-syria The 1,500-kilometer (750-mile) project was first announced in July 2011 as Syrian rebels began stepping up the fight to topple Assad. Many analysts predicted the pipeline would remain in the planning stages because of the countless risks involved, but Iran's decision to start work — even just the beginning sections — is seen a public show of confidence in Assad's ability to ride out the uprising. It also reflects Iran's wider efforts to expand natural gas and oil pipeline to Middle East and Asian markets as Western sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program cut into sales. The United States and its allies accuse Tehran of seeking to develop atomic weapons, an allegation the Iranians deny. The semiofficial Fars news agency said Iran has already begun construction of the first phase of the project involving a 225-kilometer (140-mile) stretch at an estimated cost of $3 billion. The pipeline will carry gas from the giant South Pars field in the Persian Gulf to Syria via Iraq, whose government has close ties with Iran. Fars said the entire project is to be completed in the second half of 2013. Economist Saeed Leilaz, however, described it as more showmanship than a serious plan at this stage. "Given the ongoing civil war in Syria, such a project can't be implemented now. Lack of security and political instability in Iraq and Syria doesn't allow this project to be enforced at least at this point," Leilaz said. "This is a symbolic gesture by Iran to show that it can bypass Western sanctions." Iran already supplies gas to several other countries, including Armenia and Turkey, and has plans to build a pipeline to Pakistan. Iran has the world's second-largest natural gas reserves after Russia. The key “chemical weapon” involved in this conflict is natural gas. http://blog.shaleshockmedia.org/2013/09/07/gas-pipeline-war-in-syria/ Quatar wants a gas pipeline to Europe – through Syria. The Turks want the Quatar pipeline to Europe – through Turkey and Syria. Assad has blocked this pipeline. So now the Turks and Quatar both support the imported al Qaeda fighters who are trying to overthrow Assad. Iran does not want the Quatar pipeline to Europe. They want their own pipeline to Europe – via Syria. So the Iranians are supporting Assad. But this proposed line goes through Lebanon (and then under sea to Europe) bypassing Turkey - who now want to get rid of Assad. Russia does not want the proposed Quatar gas pipeline to Europe, where they export most of their gas. So they have supported the Assad military dictatorship, their client and puppet, who has blocked it on their behalf - until Assad agreed to the Iranian pipeline to Europe. That’s when his troubles began: By signing on to the Iranian pipeline, Assad angered his benefactors the Russians, his neighbor, Turkey, and Quatar. Leaving Iran his only friend in the region. The USA (and the Israelis) do not want the Iranian pipeline project to go through. Civil war broke out shortly after the Assad regime signed on for the Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon route, cutting Quatar and Turkey out and elevating Iran. The Syrian rebels were subsequently bankrolled by Quatar and supported logistically by Turkey. The CIA started supplying arms to the Syrian rebels via Turkey and Jordan after Assad cut the pipeline deal with Iran. (Who is making also making nice in the US to get a pipeline through Pakistan to China) There are reports that some third countries are training Syrian rebels to use chemical weapons in Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. The intention is to put the skill to use in new false flag actions in Syria, he explained. http://rt.com/news/lavrov-afghanistan-chemical-weapons-036/ The suspected training happened in Afghan territories not under control of the government in Kabul, Lavrov said. “Some reports indicate that [Al-Qaeda-linked radical] Al-Nusra Front is planning to smuggle toxic compounds and relevant specialists into Iraqi territory to stage terrorist attacks there this time,” Lavrov said. The Russian minister, who spoke after meeting his Kuwaiti counterpart Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, warned against any possible provocations in Syria related to the ongoing process of its chemical weapons disarmament. “We are standing for conducting the work in a precise manner in accordance with the roadmap and without any hindrances. We warn against any possible provocation,” Lavrov said. Al-Nusra Front is considered one of the most combat-worthy parts of the militants fighting against Damascus. It has said that it takes orders from an Al-Qaeda branch operating in Iraq. Many countries, including the United States, list the group as a terrorist organization over several high-profile bombings it organized in Syria. The use of chemical weapons in August near Damascus triggered a serious international crisis. The US threatened to use military force against the government of President Bashar Assad, which it blamed for the attack. The tension was defused after a Russian-brokered deal to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. Damascus insists that the August incident and several previous cases of alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria were provocations by opposition forces. Russia shares this view. Earlier Russian diplomatic sources said the August sarin gas attack was a special operation of Saudi Arabian intelligence conducted with the help of a radical Islamist militant group operating near Damascus. The group called Liwa Al-Islam is headed by the son of a Saudi cleric. US Covered-Up for Decades the Largest Use of Biological & Chemical Weapons in History There are many reasons why one should oppose the military action against Syria being planned by the Obama administration. But given that the action is being trumpeted as a righteous response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, there is one reason to oppose the U.S. action that carries with it more than the usual amount of painful irony. It is difficult to know how to introduce this subject, as it is so dark and evil, and the U.S. population has been lied to for so long about it, that I fear the initial reaction very likely can only be shock and denial. And yet, the crimes to which I am about to refer are quite well documented, and were themselves the focus of a Congressional bill in 2000 directing the National Archives to specially search for and release the relevant documentation. The deaths involved are said to approach half-a-million souls, and the injuries of many are still ongoing. Kept “Top Secret” in “Intelligence Channels” Here, in summary, are the primary facts. As you read this, remember that the U.S. government not only amnestied those involved in the following war crimes, but paid them for the information they could provide, and in some cases hired them. The decision was made by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the State Department, and possibly the new CIA and the new president, Truman. The idea for the deal was prompted by General Douglas MacArthur, military doctors at Ft. Detrick, and officials in the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service. It was famously decided that all that you are about to read now would be kept as “top secret,” not to be released outside “intelligence channels.” And it wasn’t… for about 35 years. From the time the Japanese Imperial Army occupied Manchuria (in the early 1930s) until the end of World War II, its special Unit 731, and dozens of associated units, engaged in wide-scale lethal experiments on biological and chemical warfare, including the use of poisons for assassination purposes and the wide-scale use of herbicides. These experiments were conducted on thousands of prisoners, estimates ranging from 3000 to 20,000 POWs and civilian prisoners. The exact number may never be known. Many of these prisoners were experimented upon without anaesthesia and by way of vivisection. The prisoners at the central Unit 731 facility at Pingfan in Manchuria were incinerated in crematoria after the military doctors were done with them. As I recently was able to derive by research into Soviet documents, some of the prisoners — called “marutas” or “logs” by Japanese researchers and military officials – sent for lethal experimentation by Unit 731, Unit 100, and like facilities were military or intelligence agency prisoners who could not be trusted to remain silent about the torture they had received from Japanese interrogators. As did the Nazis, Japanese researchers conducted experiments on malaria, syphilis, and on freezing. (Japanese and German collaboration on these programs was likely closer than previously thought.) Male prisoners were forced to rape female prisoners in order to inoculate them with venereal disease. Other prisoners were forced to stay outside in sub-zero temperatures, as part of Japanese military frostbite experiments. Some prisoners were tied to stakes and had munitions loaded with bacteria exploded nearby them, the shrapnel embedding itself in their exposed skin. Other prisoners were tricked into taking food or medications that had cyanide, hallucinogenic substances, and opiates. Though the US government specifically denies it, some of the prisoners were also US POWs held at Japan’s Mukden POW camp, and possibly other camps as well. (An academic book on the subject was published by Naval Institute Press a few years ago.) Large-scale Use of Biological Weapons in War Was Covered-Up But the experiments were only part of the crimes, as the Imperial Army implemented the use of the bacteriological weapons against the Chinese and Soviets during World War II, killing, according to recent estimates, somewhere between a quarter and half-a-million people with plague, typhoid, and other diseases, and leaving others injured for life. Japan bombed cities with specially constructed bacterial bombs, as part of a plan that included well-poisonings, the release of infected rats and fleas (bred specially for the purpose), and other forms of mass inoculations. After World War II and the blanket amnesty for all the BW researchers, who were led by Kwantung Army Lt. General Shiro Ishii, British and Canadian researchers have alleged that some of the Japanese personnel were utilized in a campaign of biological warfare by the United States during the Korean War. The issue is still hotly debated today, and the U.S. still keeps secret today many documents related to that war. The crimes of Unit 731 and assorted entities, the U.S. amnesty of those involved, and collaboration with Ishii and others in collecting the “scientific” information taken from the murder of thousands, would have remained secret forever, had it not been for the conscience of a few of those Japanese scientists and technicians involved who came forward to talk to Japanese researchers in the mid-1970s. In America, the revelations were due to the tireless work of journalist John W. Powell, who used FOIA extensively to document the case of the U.S. cover-up, publishing in 1981. Even so, the subject has never entirely entered the mainstream of U.S. consciousness. Japan’s Use of Chemical Weapons in China The crimes of the Japanese Imperial Army were not limited to bacteriological weapons. They also used chemical weapons extensively in China from 1937 until 1945, according to declassified US records. But you won’t read much about that in any secondary sources, as the records on this were scooped up by the Americans and Soviets, and the event practically written out of history. None of the Japanese military hierarchy tried after the war for war crimes were charged with use of chemical or bacteriological weapons. Those involved were protected by the U.S. military and amnestied for any crimes. The knowledge of the weaponry involved, including that derived through lethal experiments, was sent to Ft. Detrick, the CIA, and other “intelligence channels.” If anything, the size of the chemical war and the damages and fatalities wrought thereby are even more secret today than Japan’s biological weapons program. The scope of the chemical war unleashed in China can be ascertained by the damage left afterward. According to Nationalist Chinese sources in Taipei, approximately 700,000 chemical munitions were left abandoned in China after World War II. The Chinese government says that approximately 2,000 people still die each year from encounters with such ordinance. An ongoing clean-up of the chemical mess, in part paid for by Japan, is still ongoing in 2013. When recently, for a longer article I am writing relating to this subject, I asked DoD for official response to these issues, the DoD spokesperson referred me to Ft. Detrick’s public affairs office. The official at Ft. Detrick said they had no knowledge of these events and could not comment, all relevant material having been sent to the National Archives years ago. Meanwhile, a former official at Ft. Detrick confirmed to me a statement that he made to historian Sheldon Harris in 1999 concerning the destruction of records on Unit 731 at Ft. Detrick occurring as late as 1998. I’ll have more to say about that in the future, but meanwhile those interested can pursue the matter at this link from the Congressional Record. U.S. Record Makes It Impossible to Trust Their Statements on Chemical or Biological Warfare Dangers The final point concerns the relevancy of the material above with the aims of the U.S. government to bomb Syria for the purported use of chemical weapons. The argument is simple. The actions of the U.S. government for decades on the matter of biological and chemical weapons demonstrate that it cannot be trusted on this matter. The government was intimately involved with cover-ups on the use of these weapons. Their cover-up is likely still ongoing. Recently, the Washington Post published an article by Joby Warrick on possible dangers from Syrian use of biological weaponry. The story is specious on its own account, but it is also telling that Warrick never refers to any of the facts I’ve related above about the U.S. history with Unit 731. Furthermore, as awful as the material involved here is, it must be assessed in the context of other U.S. criminal activities associated with biological and chemical warfare, from the lies told about WMD, leading to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, to experiments done on U.S. citizens, to the facilitation of chemical weapon attacks by other countries, e.g., Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Certainly, the videos released on the Internet, most lately with the imprimatur of Congressional Intelligence committees, contain scenes of ghastly deaths that are frightening to watch. The constant bombardment of propaganda from media and government sources, not least supposed “liberal” or “progressive” politicians, is meant to achieve a sense of urgency and fear in the population that will allow at the least acquiescence towards the military’s new war actions in the Middle East. I hope that bringing up the history of the United States in relation to the largest operational use of biological and chemical weapons in history will give pause to those who are otherwise credulous of U.S. intentions. The record is clear: the U.S. has lied and covered-up when it comes to biological and chemical weapons, and government sources cannot be trusted, certainly not when the bulk of their information is kept secret from the public.