July 20, 2012 · 0 Comments
By Michael McGehee and Chris Spannos:
The New York Times ran six articles and an editorial all focusing on Syria in yesterday’s paper.
Helene Cooper, the Times White House correspondent, wrote ”Washington Begins to Plan for Collapse of Syrian Government,” which appears on page A13 of the New York edition.
Cooper writes that, “With the growing conviction that the Assad family’s 42-year grip on power in Syria is coming to an end, Obama administration officials worked on contingency plans Wednesday for a collapse of the Syrian government.”
Cooper could ask, “By what right, moral and legal, do ‘Obama administration officials’ plan for the collapse of a foreign government?” But she doesn’t. Instead, Cooper only highlights that Syria has legal responsibilities.
Then we read that, “Pentagon officials were in talks with Israeli defense officials about whether Israel might move to destroy Syrian weapons facilities.” And while Cooper quickly proceeds to write that, ”The administration is not advocating such an attack,” it’s never explained why ”Pentagon officials” are discussing the matter with “Israeli defense officials” or the consequence for an Israeli invasion when international law prohibits aggressive war.
Cooper informs us that President Obama recently called Russia’s President Putin and “urged him again to allow Mr. Assad to be pushed from power.” Another opportunity to address the legal issue of regime change slips by.
We are told that “within hours” of “the bombing in Damascus on Wednesday that killed several of Mr. Assad’s closest advisers,” the Treasury Department announced additional sanctions “against the Syrian prime minister and some 28 other cabinet ministers and senior officials…” The sanctions are reportedly “part of the administration’s effort to make life so difficult for the government that Mr. Assad’s allies desert him.”
The announcement of these sanctions are auspiciously timed. However, Cooper does not explain the timing other than to mention it in passing.
Obama officials are quoted saying, “The Syrian government has a responsibility to safeguard its stockpiles of chemical weapons, and the international community will hold accountable any Syrian officials who fails to meet that obligation,” but there is not one comment from Cooper explaining that there is no evidence that Syria has stockpiles of chemical weapons.
According to the BBC, Syria has never confirmed that they have these types of weapons.
Officially, Syria has stated that while it supports a region-wide ban on WMDs it cannot sign the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) which outlaws production of such weapons as long as Israel continues to pose a threat to its security.
The BBC also states that “Opposition activists haven’t reported the use of chemical weapons in Syria.”
Cooper, however, tells Times readers that the outcome of a chemical attack would be advantageous to Washington’s agenda because “Russia, in particular, would probably have to drop its opposition to tougher United Nations sanctions against Syria, and Mr. Assad’s other remaining ally, Iran, would probably not look too kindly on a chemical attack.”
For Cooper “the Obama administration must also worry about” whether Assad will use chemical weapons as a safeguard against regime change or whether such weapons will fall in the hands of al Qaeda, including “all the variants of what a fall looks like, and what a post-Assad Syria looks like.”
The Times editorial “Assassination in Damascus” repeats the not yet proven claim that Assad’s “government is moving its stockpile of chemical weapons and might be preparing to use them…” The editorial describes “Russian intransigence,” writing that “Moscow is abetting Mr. Assad’s killing spree by supplying him with helicopters while shielding him from the kind of pressure that could force a cease-fire.”
Yet the Editors fail to mention the U.S.’s own support for the opposition. The Times reported just last month, in ”C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition,” that the C.I.A was operating secretly in southern Turkey to help anti-Assad forces smuggle “automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons” across the Turkish border and into Syria. The report explained that the operation included a “network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar…”
A Times Op-Ed last April, “U.S. Joins Effort to Equip and Pay Rebels in Syria,” explained to readers that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton…
announced an additional $12 million in humanitarian assistance for international organizations aiding the Syrians, bringing the American total so far to $25 million, according to the State Department. She also confirmed for the first time that the United States was providing satellite communications equipment to help those inside Syria “organize, evade attacks by the regime,” and stay in contact with the outside world. And according to the Syrian National Council, the American assistance will include night-vision goggles.
“We are discussing with our international partners how best to expand this support,” Mrs. Clinton said
Yesterday’s editorial states that ”Moscow is abetting Mr. Assad” but at the same time neglects to mention to their readers U.S. involvement as a precursor to yesterday’s bomb that ripped through a government meeting in Damascus on Wednesday, killing three Syrian officials.
The Times page one story, “Syrian Rebels Hone Bomb Skills to Even the Odds,” quoted one anti-Assad fighter in Turkey who took a course this spring on explosives that the Times reports was taught in Istanbul by Islamist. This would have been a relevant place in the the article for Times Editors to remind readers of their report last month explaining C.I.A. assistance in arming anti-Assad forces.