So much for the “red line” nonsense in a civil war. When evidence arose that sarin gas and other chemical weapons had been used in Syria, the assumption was that Bashar al-Assad’s forces had deployed their long-held chemical munitions. That put pressure on the West to intervene in the conflict, especially after Barack Obama’s ad-libbed red-line declaration. The UN has determined, however, that it was the rebel forces that used the chemical weapons:
U.N. human rights investigators have gathered testimony from casualties of Syria’s civil war and medical staff indicating that rebel forces have used the nerve agent sarin, one of the lead investigators said on Sunday.
The United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria has not yet seen evidence of government forces having used chemical weapons, which are banned under international law, said commission member Carla Del Ponte.
“Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated,” Del Ponte said in an interview with Swiss-Italian television.
“This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” she added, speaking in Italian.
Well, that puts a different light on the conflict, no? Perhaps it’s better to say that it puts actual light on the war in Syria. Both sides in this case are horrid choices for the US. The only intervention that could possibly be in our interest would be to stage a massive invasion and decade-long occupation that would allow us to put down Islamist terrorists on both sides and establish a secular-based representative government, but few in the US will sign off on another Iraq.
John McCain still wants his intervention, even with the latest revelation:
“Apparently, the Syrians and Iranians have crossed a red line with the Israelis,” McCain said. “And that means that weapons of an advanced nature — probably missiles — have been moved from Iran into Syria with intentions of moving them to Hezbollah.”
McCain said the Israeli intervention ”will probably put more pressure on this administration” to act, but cautioned against deploying any U.S. troops, arguing in favor of arming the rebels and establishing a “safe zone.”
“We need to have a game changing action,” McCain said. “And that is no American boots on the ground, establish a safe zone, and to protect it and to supply weapons to the right people in Syria who are fighting for obviously, the things we believe in.”
Which side is “fighting for, obviously, the things we believe in”? The hereditary dictatorship that is getting Hezbollah to fight on its side, or the rebels who are imposing shari’a law and using chemical weapons, and which has no secular fighting force to speak of?