Tariq Ali on Syrian Chemical Weapons: 'The Fact Is, We Don't Know'
British-Pakistani historian, activist and editor of the New Left Review, Tariq Ali, says that without publicly available evidence, Barack Obama’s claim that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against civilians and rebels is “totally unconvincing.”
During a debate on “Democracy Now!” on Thursday with Steve Clemons, Washington editor at large for The Atlantic, Ali said the main evidence allegedly supplied to the United States comes in the form of electronic and digital eavesdropping supplied by Israel. This “should be made public so we can judge it for ourselves” says Ali, who is deeply skeptical of the claims made by American officials and their Western allies.
“Virtually no one who knows the region believes that these attacks were carried out by the Syrian government, or on its orders,” he says. “It’s crazy, if you think about it. They let the inspectors in, and then in a hotel barely 10 miles from—in a location barely 10 miles from where the inspectors are staying, there’s a chemical attack. And what good does it do the Syrian government to actually open fire on these inspectors? They want them there. So, I think it’s slightly incredible. And given that citizens in the United States and Europe were lied to in the run-up to the Iraq War—simple, straightforward lies—it’s very difficult to take the West seriously when it cries wolf again. So, till the evidence is there, it’s impossible to take this at face value.”
In a Wednesday editorial, The New York Times expressed the same incredulity. “[N]o evidence to support this claim has been released,” the paper wrote. “If the Obama administration has such evidence, it should make it public immediately. Given America’s gross failure in Iraq — when the Bush administration went to war over nonexistent nuclear weapons — the standard of proof is now unquestionably higher.”
— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.