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September 15, 2013

Syrian Intervention: Twenty Questions For President Obama – OpEd

Source:  Eurasia Review

By Arshad M Khan

Mr. President: Your speech to the American people on Tuesday omitted salient facts
and failed to answer many questions perplexing this citizen (and perhaps others).
Permit me then to invite you to respond to the following:

1. To be legal, an attack must be either authorized by the UN Security Council, or in
response to an imminent threat. The UN has not given authorization. You also claim
you have “undeniable evidence” of Assad’s culpability in the chemical weapons attack
on August 21, and that you are enforcing international norms. But that too is up to the
UN, leaving only the question of imminent threat. So please tell us how Syria is a
military threat to the U.S. when a handful of our ships off its coast are threatening to
cripple its air force?

2. Why was British Prime Minister David Cameron not able to convince his parliament
of this “undeniable evidence”? A PM’s loss on such an issue was the first in 150 years.

3. “Dr.” Elizabeth O’Bagy has been fired from her job at the Institute for the Study of
War for fraudulent credentials. Her photo as Political Director displayed prominently,
adjacent to the founder of the pro-rebel Syrian Emergency Task Force, clearly
endorses her sentiments. Yet Secretary Kerry waved her report as gospel in front of
Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee. Reminiscent of the mountebanks and
charlatans supporting the Iraq war (notably Ahmed Chalabi convicted of bank fraud in
Jordan), how can your government given the resources at its disposal be taken in by
such an obvious partisan? More importantly then, what confidence can we have in the
validity of your case against Assad?

4. It is being reported that the newly labeled “government assessment” on which you
base your assertions against Assad has been cherry-picked from the original
intelligence assessment — mysteriously absent from the Office of Director of National
Intelligence website. It is further believed from an analysis of the circumstances that
DNI James R. Clapper refused to sign-off on the cherry-picked version and therefore
it became (a first in the history of intelligence assessments) a “government
assessment”. Are these allegations true or untrue?

5. The Sunday Bild, a German newspaper, reports Assad refused previous requests
from military commanders to use chemical weapons when their military situation was
considerably worse. Communications intercepts by German Intelligence revealed the
evidence. Given these prior circumstances, could you explain why Assad would turn
around and use the same weapons on his doorstep with UN inspectors parked in a
nearby hotel, particularly now when his forces have the upper hand?

6. The Sunday Bild also claims that Gerhard Schindler, the head of German Foreign
Intelligence, briefed German lawmakers, German Intelligence was convinced that
Assad had not ordered/approved the August 21 gas attack. How can you then order
what would be an illegal attack based on evidence with which a close ally and largest
European economy so profoundly (to use your favorite word) disagrees?

7. Why would Assad first invite UN inspectors and then use chemical weapons six
miles from their hotel?

8. Why would he use a weapon that gains him little militarily, yet brings the opprobrium
of the world?

9. And why would he use a weapon that opens up the possibility of a lethal Libya-like
response from the U.S.? Do you think Assad is mad?

10. If Assad was planning to use chemical weapons, would he choose a site adjacent
to his own civilian support in Damascus, or would he strike where rebel forces were

11. Does the U.S. want to be on the same side as the rebel commander who slit open
a soldier’s chest and ate his heart and liver? So proud of his ‘courage’ he videotaped

12. One in seven Syrians is Christian, and Christian and other minorities almost
universally support the secular government. Does the U.S. really want to be on the
same side as those who sawed off the heads of Christians including a Bishop?

13. If international law and the UN Charter can be so easily bypassed, can small
countries feel safe against larger more powerful ones?

14. Is such insecurity likely to spur efforts by smaller threatened countries to resort to
the ultimate safety of a nuclear shield?

15. The red line argument of serving a warning to Iran falls somewhat flat, because a
Syrian strike and the earlier Libyan example are more likely to convince Iranians on
the absolute necessity of a nuclear shield. So will Iranians roll back their nuclear effort
or speed up the quest?

16. What happens the day after the strikes?

17. The Russians resupply massively; Hezbollah runs riot; Iran activates its
operatives. What are your plans?

18. How have you managed to be outmaneuvered, outplayed, and now outflanked
(with the chemical weapons surrender proposal) by the Russians?

19. Despite the spin about the threat of imminent attack yielding concessions from
Syrians, the fact remains that Mr. Putin has thrown you a lifeline saving you from
ignominious defeat in Congress. What do you owe him?

20. You have not answered any of these questions in your television broadcast to the
American people. You do not have their majority support or of the rest of the world’s
seven billion people. Have you failed the promise of your Nobel Peace Prize?

I know you are very busy, but I hope you will be able to find time for a response.


Concerned citizen.

The author (

) is a retired Professor