Damascus, Syria (SCF) – On September 4, US President Barack Obama received Saudi King Salman in the White House. It was the first time the King visited the United States since his inauguration in January, 2015. Washington and Riyadh plan to continue their activities in a joint effort to counter Tehran.
The plans envisage the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar Assad, the support of Saudi aggression against Yemen, constraining the influence of Iran in Lebanon and the fight against the Shia group Hezbollah. During the talks Obama did not suggest that Saudi Arabia should move from declarations of intent to a real fight against the Islamic State, which once again gave a reason to doubt the nature of the relationship between the US government and the ISIS.
The fact that the United States practices double standards is fully corroborated by its stance on the problem of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the region. While applying efforts to counter the Iranian peaceful nuclear program, Washington turns a blind eye on the nuclear weapons in the Israel’s inventory. In the fall of 2013, the White House accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of using chemical weapons (CW). Today the United States is in no hurry to recognize the fact that the Islamic State uses these weapons. Some time ago Obama has declared that the chemical weapons use or transfer to terrorist groups would be a red line for the US. At the same time Washington shows no concern over the indications that the Islamic State has used CW in Syria and Iraq.
It springs to mind that in the August of 2013 the United States had no solid evidence to go upon to prove the use of chemical weapons in Ghouta, Syria.
In spite of that, it unleashed an information war against the Syrian government. Back then the White House stopped short of military intervention against Syria. Now the militants of Islamic State are using CW but the Obama administration appears to forget about the red line it was talking about.
The Islamic State launched two attacks using chemical projectiles against Kurdish armed formations and civilians on July 28 in Hasakeh and Tal Brak. Experts believed that the attacks were only the first try. Indeed, on August 23 it came to surface that chemical munitions were used in the Syrian city of Marea. Before that the Islamic State used chlorine gas against Iraqi Kurds. Nevertheless, the United States is only«concerned» over the reports and believes there were no «massive attacks».
Not only the Obama administration belittles the threat related to the use of chemical weapons by Islamic State militants, it also tries to use this issue for propaganda purposes as it confronts Damascus. The United States puts the blame on the Syrian government for allowing the Islamic State to get access to large storages of weapons, including chemical projectiles. But Syria got rid of weapons of mass destruction in the first half of 2014. It also eliminated the equipment and took away from the country the materials used for production of toxic agents. This fact is confirmed by Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The Syrian US-supported armed opposition created obstacles on the way while the weapons were transported beyond the national borders. Those days the joint commission of United Nations responsible for monitoring the process and the staff of the OPCW on spot testified to the fact that the formations of militants had been obstructing the transportation of the weapons from places of storage located across the country to the Mediterranean port of Latakia. The White House accusations against Damascus appear to be totally groundless. The continuing information war against Syria has become nothing else but utter nonsense.
Two years after chemical weapons were used in the vicinity of Damascus, the Islamic State took control over vastswathes of land in Syria and Iraq with the population estimated in millions. The group is confronted by the Syrian military and moderate opposition, Kurds, the Iraqi military and Iraqi Shia militia. The United States, Great Britain and, to lesser extent, other American allies deliver air strikes against jihadists in Syria and Iraq. Somehow, it’s not enough to win. The ineffectiveness of combat operations against the Islamic State is per se a scandalous thing. The influence of terrorists in the region is rapidly growing. Over 30 jihadist groups from 18 countries from Boco Harum in Africa to the «emirate» in Northern Caucasus and some Taliban forces in Afghanistan have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State. The group is especially influential in Libya.
It is likely that it was in Libya where Islamic State militants got hold of large chemical weapons storage this February. The American intelligence has not confirmed this information. Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said Washington was taking the allegations «very seriously» and seeking more information about what happened. Evidently, the United States belittles the threat of chemical weapons proliferation and their use beyond the territories of war-torn Syria and Iraq. In June 2014 Iraq formally informed the United Nations about the loss to the Islamic State of a former chemical weapons facility located near Baghdad. The following State Department reaction was vague enough. Then State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki assured that the chemical projectiles left in Iraq «degraded» and could not be used for military purposes anymore. This explanation hardly sounds convincing. Terrorists don’t usually need a mass production of chemical weapons. A few toxic agent projectiles to «experiment with» is what they could be after.
Today the White House is focused on pushing the Iran nuclear agreement through Congress. It is fighting for every vote in Senate without giving due attention to the fact that the Islamic State influence is growing in unprecedented ways. By and large, the West has adopted a reckless attitude towards this problem. Off and on, voices are raised to warn about the use of chemical munitions. For instance, The Mirror cites a retired military, a leading expert in chemical warfare, who says ISIS may have access to 20 tons of the weapons of mass destruction and could smuggle it out of Syria and into Europe to commit terrorist acts.
Written by Nikolai BOBKIN for Strategic Culture Foundation.