Armas químicas (Continuación)

For many, myself included, the lack of a credible third party on the ground offering some form of evidence for the nature of Wednesday's mass killing in a suburb of Damascus was a major stumbling block.

But Saturday's announcement by Doctors without Borders turned that around, giving credence to the likelihood that it was an attack involving some form of nerve agent.

The organization said that three hospitals it supports reported that they had treated 3,600 patients with "neurotoxic symptoms" in a span of less than three hours and that 355 of those had died.

Atropine, the primary treatment for those exposed to sarin-like chemicals, can be potentially harmful if there is a misdiagnosis and nerve agent is not present.…  Seguir leyendo »

Although we do not have independent information as to whether Bashar al-Assad's regime fired chemical weapons on the eastern suburbs of Damascus and killed hundreds of civilians, as the opposition claims, the burden of proof, morally and legally, lies squarely on the shoulders of the Syrian president.

If the regime's counter-claims of denial are to be believed, Assad must convince the Syrian people and the world. He can do this by allowing the United Nations inspectors access to the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta, where this apparent massacre occurred. A 20-strong UN team is already in Damascus, investigating three other incidents of alleged chemical weapons attacks said to have taken place six months ago.…  Seguir leyendo »

On examining the US assessment of Syria's alleged chemical weapons use, Vladimir Putin's top foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said: "What was presented to us by the Americans does not look convincing. It would be hard to even call them facts."

Unwelcome as it may be to the French and British governments, who have been leading the push for this finding, he is right. The White House statement says that laboratory analyses of samples "reveal exposure to sarin" (which the NY Times reports amounts to two individuals, who have been shown to have traces of the agent sarin in their bodies), but then goes on to add the qualifier that "each positive result indicates that an individual was exposed to sarin, but it does not tell us how or where the individuals were exposed, or who was responsible for the dissemination".…  Seguir leyendo »

According to Bill Clinton, Barack Obama risks looking like a “fool” if he decides not to intervene militarily in Syria’s continuing civil war. Likening the situation to his decision to intervene in Kosovo in 1999, Mr. Clinton said Tuesday that if he hadn’t used force to stop Serbia’s campaign of ethnic cleansing, critics might have said: “You could have stopped this by dropping a few bombs. Why didn’t you do it?” Mr. Clinton believes that Mr. Obama could end up looking like a “total wuss” if he doesn’t intervene. And it seems he’s going act.

The recent recapture of the strategic town of Qusair by forces loyal to the government of Bashar al-Assad and the White House’s public acknowledgment that chemical weapons have been employed by the Syrian regime — thereby crossing a “red line” — persuaded Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

La preocupación sobre las armas químicas en Siria ha existido desde el inicio de un conflicto que entra ya en su tercer año: un miedo asentado principalmente en el hecho de que el caos o incluso una posible desintegración del país dejaran desprotegidos los arsenales de armas químicas y no convencionales, que podrían caer en manos de radicales. Pero es ahora cuando suena con más fuerza su posible uso y, como consecuencia, el traspaso de la “línea roja” marcada por Barack Obama.

Se sabe que Siria posee el mayor programa de armas químicas en activo y el cuarto arsenal más grande del mundo.…  Seguir leyendo »

The use of chemical weapons in Syria has increased pressure on President Obama to arm the opposition. Earlier in the conflict, I endorsed such a step. But circumstances have changed. Instead, the United States should focus on working with Russia to disarm Syria. A U.N. Security Council resolution mandating an inspection and disarmament process for Syria could open the door to wider negotiations on a political resolution.

I have long advocated arming opposition movements that resist dictatorships and aggression. The strategy yielded major gains during the Soviet-Afghan war, in Bosnia, in Afghanistan in 2001 and during the Libyan revolution, all without unduly exposing the United States.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Monday, a U.N. official said that Syrian rebels had likely used the nerve agent sarin.

Carla Del Ponte, the veteran war crimes prosecutor and a commissioner of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry for Syria, made this claim on a Swiss-Italian TV station.

Del Ponte explained, "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 added, "This was used on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities".…  Seguir leyendo »

“The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable,” President Obama warned Bashar al-Assad’s government last December. “If you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable.”

This threat followed the president’s earlier warning that “a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.” This red line has come to haunt Mr. Obama. Last week, the American intelligence community assessed “with varying degrees of confidence” that the Syrians had used the chemical agent sarin in their attacks on the opposition.…  Seguir leyendo »

If President Obama has been slow to respond to reports that chemical weapons have been employed in Syria, thereby crossing his “red line” and creating a “game-changer” for U.S. policy, he’s not the first chief executive to procrastinate on the issue. Woodrow Wilson was well aware of Germany’s use of chemical weapons in World War I at least as early as May 1915 — two years before American entry — when he offered a compromise to Germany and Britain: Germany should cease using chemical weapons in exchange for Britain’s ending of its blockade of neutral ports. Both nations rejected his proposal.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Obama administration has confirmed what we have been hearing for months, that chemical weapons have been used in Syria by the regime of embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

The news, revealed in a White House letter to Congress, presents President Obama with a stark question. Will the United States become directly involved in the two-year-old Syrian civil war?

Last August, Obama issued a stern warning to Assad. If he used chemical weapons, Obama said, even if he moved them in preparation for use, he would cross a "red line" that would have "enormous consequences". Before that, Obama had already declared that the regime would be "held accountable" if it made the "tragic mistake of using those weapons", a warning he repeated last month during a trip to the Middle East.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por René Pita, profesor de la Escuela Militar de Defensa NBQ del Ejército de Tierra y del Departamento de Toxicología de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid (REAL INSTITUTO ELCANO, 18/01/07):

Tema: Este ARI analiza el interés y la capacidad de obtener armas químicas por parte de al-Qaeda, así como su posible uso en atentados terroristas como arma de destrucción masiva, es decir, con el fin de causar un elevado número de víctimas.

Resumen: En las declaraciones de distintos miembros de al-Qaeda se justifica su derecho a adquirir y utilizar armas químicas en términos de reciprocidad, bien como medida disuasoria o como represalia por los ataques en Afganistán; y en términos de necesidad, como herramienta para asestar un duro golpe en su guerra contra Occidente.…  Seguir leyendo »