Syria chemical weapons scandal pretext for short-term military intervention by the West
Western countries threaten Assad with possible military action,
but it will be impossible to target chemical weapon stockpiles
through air strikes without further harming civilians, says
Vanoost. He also argues that the alleged chemical attack outside
Damascus is being used as a pretext for a short term military
RT:We see a ratcheting up of war rhetoric by the US
and some European states. Is it timely or is it premature given
this alleged chemical attack? Is that really what should be
happening now or not, do you think?
Lode Vanoost: This is absolutely, totally premature, if you look at the things that happened in the past, with other allegations. This is really a time to keep your cool and say let’s look at the evidence and so forth. The evidence only points to massive killings by some chemical agent. We do not know who did it, we don’t know what kind of agents. This is definitely not the time for such rhetoric.
RT:Why is it so difficult to prove who has or not done this? If you read the papers there has been a lot of pointing fingers at Assad but there’s no definite proof.
LV: You have to distinguish between forensic proof, which is just a matter of chemical testing and so on and getting in the places, knowing that you are in the right place, knowing that the people who say it happened there are correct – and that’s the difficulty. The thing is also, is this really about an event that causes the West to react like this or is just an excuse, a pretext, I do believe it a pretext.
RT:So why not wait then for legitimate proof, because you think it’s an excuse? Do you think they are going to jump the gun here?
LV: They are going to jump some kind of gun, in what way we do not know yet. Let’s not forget first of all we are talking about a possible different kind of intervention there. There is already an intervention on the ground. There are American and British and French trainers in the ground. The rebels have arms that are delivered by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Let’s not forget these countries do not produce arms, they just buy them from western countries, in that way there is already a strong intervention in this conflict, and the question is what kind of proliferation there will be.
RT:That’s exactly my next question. How do you think this is going to pan out, if it happens?
LV: I do not like to guess, my idea is that there is going to be some kind of air force operation but that is going to very, very tricky. You should keep in mind that you cannot bomb chemical stock piles, you exacerbate the situation by doing that. So they have to do other things. They will do some kind of thing that they can call meaningful. But I do not believe that in this situation there is any way that a military intervention can solve matters, it’s only going to make matters worse.
RT:If it did happen, would it be a short term or a medium term affair, so you think?
LV: My guess, and I emphasize that’s it’s a guess, is that it’s going to be a short kind of thing that they do, because I know very well that a long term operation in Syria is going to be hell. They already have the experience of what happened in Iraq and Libya and they are not going to take that risk, I do not believe so.
RT:I find though, it seems that a political way out of this isn’t going to happen any time soon, it seems to be getting further away. Today the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said the claims of the chemical attack, could be aimed at disrupting any prospect, future talks of peace. The Syrian opposition in the meantime has said there isn’t going to be any talks, so I guess that’s knocked Geneva on the head, yeah?
LV: When you say the Syrian opposition that’s not entirely correct. There is also very little talk about the civilian unarmed nonviolent opposition who are willing but not allowed by the British and the US to participate. It’s one thing to say we are going to have talks and then tell your allies don’t come. I mean that is just bad faith and that is what is happening at the moment. Of course what is happening now, is probably like what the foreign minister said, creating a situation that alters things on the ground.