By Robert Fisk
The Independent, Dec-8-2012
The bigger the lie the more people will believe it. We all know who said
that - but it still works. Bashar al-Assad has chemical weapons. He may
use them against his own Syrian people. If he does, the West will
respond. We heard all this stuff last year - and Assad's regime
repeatedly said that if - if - it had chemical weapons, it would never
use them against Syrians.
now Washington is playing the same gas-chanty all over again. Bashar
has chemical weapons. He may use them against his own people. And if he
Well if he does, Obama and Madame Clinton and Nato will be very, very
angry. But over the past week, all the usual pseudo-experts who couldn't
find Syria on a map have been warning us again of the mustard gas,
chemical agents, biological agents that Syria might possess - and might
use. And the sources?
The same fantasy specialists who didn't warn us about 9/11 but insisted
that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction in 2003: "unnamed military
intelligence sources". Henceforth to be acronymed as UMIS.
Coup de théâtre
And now, the coup de théâtre. Someone from the Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation called me up this week to talk about the use of chemical
weapons by Hafez al-Assad in Hama during the Sunni Muslim uprising in
the city in 1982. Their sources were the same old UMIS. But I happened
to have got into Hama in February 1982 - which is why the Canadian was
calling me - and while Hafez's Syrian army was very definitely
slaughtering its own people (who were, by the way, slaughtering regime
officials and their families), no one ever used chemical weapons.
Not a single soldier I saw in Hama carried a gas mask. No civilians
carried gas masks. The dangerously perfumed air which I and my
colleagues smelt after chemicals were used by our (then) ally Saddam
against Iranian soldiers in the 1980s was not present. And none of the
dozens of civilian survivors I have interviewed in the 30 years since
1982 ever mentioned the use of gas.
But now we are to believe that it was used. And so the infantile new
fairy tale has begun: Hafez al-Assad used gas against his own people in
Hama 30 years ago. So his son Bashar may do the same again. And wasn't
that one of the reasons we invaded Iraq in 2003 - because Saddam had
used gas against his own people already and may do so again?
Yes, the bigger the lie, the better. Certainly we journos have done our
duty in disseminating this bunkum. And Bashar is about to be accused of
another crime which he has not yet committed and which his father never
did commit. Yup, chemical weapons are bad news, folks. That's why the US
supplied Saddam with the components for them, along with Germany (of
That's why, when Saddam first used gas on Halabja, the UMIS told CIA
officers to blame Iran. And yes, Bashar probably does have some
chemicals in rusting bins somewhere in Syria. Madame Clinton has been
worrying that they may "fall into the wrong hands" - as if they are
presently "in the right hands". But the Russians have told Bashar not to
use them. Would he piss off his only superpower ally?
And by the way, which was the first army to use gas in
the Middle East? Saddam? Nope. The Brits, of course, under General
Allenby, against the Turks in Sinai in 1917. And that's the truth.