For what seems like the first time in a very long time, the official narrative surrounding an alleged chemical attack by an international ‘bad guy’ is being questioned by legitimate, mainstream pundits and commentators, not to mention some of those with greatest access to trustworthy first-hand information. Last Sunday, it was reported that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had perpetrated a chemical attack in the southwestern city of Douma, leading some to say ‘of course he did’, and others to ask, ‘why in the hell would he do that?’.
For those willing to buy the idea that Assad was behind the attack, which reportedly killed at least 40 people, including women and children, the case was simple enough. Assad was reportedly behind an attack in Ghouta, the larger suburban area of which Douma is a part, in 2013. It was the same incident that brought up questions of then-President Obama’s ‘red line’ in Syria, which represented the initial ramping up of talk that America may intervene in the region. He did it before, he will do it again type of thing. Except, the question of whether Assad actually was the one behind the previous attack was never beyond a doubt, either.
Mainstream sources such as CBS openly questioned where the evidence that linked Assad to the attack was. That evidence never emerged.
Now, sources are asking the same question in relation to the latest attack, and in light of increasing anti-Russian sentiment and Syria’s near-end to the war that has torn apart their own country, it is truly perplexing why Assad would carry out such a provocative attack which has such little apparent tie to logical military strategy.
Making matters even murkier, and ripe for questioning, is the reality that Douma has been a stronghold for Syrian, anti-Assad rebel group Jaysh al-Islam. Syrian rebel groups, though the American government has decided that they are the lesser adversary versus Assad, are far from our allies, and their information – as well as their actions – are not verifiable nor necessarily trustworthy. While evidence of chemical attacks have emerged, the perception that Assad is the only person who could have unleashed any chemical attack in Douma is a false one.
These rebels have proven willing to take up arms to overthrow Assad, and the winding down of the war means that the rebels have all but lost, and are presumably desperate to do whatever they can as a last-ditch effort to curry military support internationally. It was the same day as Russia agreed to evacuate the Jaysh al-Islam rebels – rebels who, by the way, were actively holding hostages captive – from Douma, this past Sunday, that the chemical attack was reported, almost immediately attributed to Bashar Assad. This attribution was, more than anything, the result of information given to Western intelligence by those on the ground, presumably the same rebel forces leaving their former stronghold with their tails between their legs, as well as the controversial White Helmets.
Even before getting further into the ranks of skeptics who have openly questioned the lack of evidence against Assad as well as Russian allegations that the event was completely staged, consider who would have more to gain from a chemical attack attributed to the Syrian president. Also consider that such an attack would inevitably attract international attention, and as we have seen, a great likelihood of military intervention against Assad by far more capable powers.
1) Assad, clearly winning the war to the point of “allowing” rebel forces to be evacuated – mind you, not slaughtered – from Douma.
2) The rebels who have fought for years against Assad and now see that, without foreign intervention, their armed campaign for a regime change is all but dead.
That is not a difficult question to answer.
Several public pundits and news sources which are typically hesitant to question narratives handed down by official sources have also joined in the skepticism. Considering the stakes of proceeding blindly in Syria, skepticism is warranted.
According to the WSJ, CIA director and soon-to-be Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has admitted that American warplanes have killed “a couple hundred Russians” in Syria already, making it seem as if we already have one foot in the door of a heightened Syrian conflict. But when the president is talking threateningly about getting back into another Middle Eastern war that will have no foreseeable end, even those inclined to keep their head relatively low can’t help but pipe up, wondering just what it is that has convinced the president and his advisors that Assad was the man behind this attack?
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson questioned why Americans are being labeled pro-Assad or unpatriotic for asking, simply, to see evidence that Assad carried out the attack before the nation is thrown into another ten-plus year war. Are memories of Iraq and Afghanistan that distant – hell, we’re not even out yet – that our elected officials are again ready to engage in Desert Storm 4.0?
This Canadian official busted up the narrative that intel coming from the ground in Syria, especially with respect to an attack with such immense consequences, is to be relied upon.
Meanwhile, Russia has – in what has become common fashion of late – not only refuted the white helmets’ account of events, but also reported that Russian entities on the ground in Douma spoke with medical officials and locals and found no evidence that a chemical attack even took place.
"Russia, let me correct you, is also shocked - by yet another provocation with the so-called chemical attack in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus. Russian military specialists have visited this region, walked on those streets, entered those houses, talked to local doctors and visited the only functioning hospital in Douma, including its basement where reportedly the mountains of corpses pile up. There was not a single corpse and even not a single person who came in for treatment after the attack." (EuroNews)
Meanwhile, Vanessa Beeley, one of the few Western journalistic sources on the ground, has been relentless in her reporting, stating that the children shown in the widely-circulated videos were kidnapped, drugged, and used as props to push the narrative that a chemical attack was perpetrated, and that Bashar al-Assad was behind that attack.
‘Testimony fm civilians & Syrian officials in #Zamalka #EasternGhouta - #WhiteHelmets & terrorist factions staged false flag events & "kidnapped, drugged" children to use as props in events, kids were buried w/out parents present. UK FCO is accountable,’ Beeley Tweeted.
Keep in mind that the White Helmets have not only been sensationalized as heroes saving lives amidst the detritus created by a bomb-happy dictator, they have received $23 million in funding from USAID, and more from other NGOs and Western organizations. If we are to trust Vanessa Beeley, a self-described Christian-American journalist, then the White Helmets, who have already been linked to involvement with war crimes, may have played a role in taking immoral measures to present a deceptive scenario in the case of the reported chemical attack.
An attack that was, again, the scion of reports disseminated by the White Helmets.
Seeing the problem here?
The questions surrounding the truth around what really happened in Douma only continue. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated on Friday that Russia had “irrefutable evidence” that the attack was staged, and that foreign intelligence – which would appear to be MI6 – facilitated the purportedly staged attack.
"We have irrefutable evidence that this was another staged event, and that the secret services of a certain state that is now at the forefront of a Russophobic campaign was involved in this staged event," he said during a press conference. (Yahoo News)
Most Westerners are fairly inclined not to believe the word of Russians. They’ve been trained both by history and the modern media. But, in this case, the Russians are far from alone in publicly questioning declarations that Bashar Assad, beyond a doubt, was behind this chemical attack. If you are inclined to believe Western, Christian journalists risking their lives to report first hand from a war-ravaged, terror-riddled Islamic hotbed, then it’s in question whether the attack even occurred at all.
If you are all-in on the chemical attack narrative, you must have a lot of faith in the word of the White Helmets. Otherwise, you must admit that as of now, admitting that we don’t know what we don’t know is the closest we can come to admitting the truth.