Weekly Letter to President Obama
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INAUGURATION,   January 20, 2009

Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape

To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.

The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.

Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.

--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
---  Native American proverb
July 12, 2013

Mr. President:  Despite skepticism by the White House, evidence continues to mount
that Syrian rebels have used chemical weapons specifically sarin gas.  In a Swiss TV
interview two months ago (May 5th, 2013), Carla Del Ponte, the former Swiss
prosecutor, who is a member of the UN Independent Commission of Enquiry on Syria,
stated there were "strong, concrete suspicions" after their investigations though "not
yet incontrovertible  proof" of the rebels' guilt.  Now the Russian ambassador to the
UN, Vitaly Churkin has handed over analyzed samples from the attack site at Khan
al-Assal to Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Russian experts claim that on March 19, the rebels fired an unguided Bashair-3
missile at the government controlled town.  An analysis of the shell showed that it was
not factory made and that it had contained sarin.  The shell did not show any trace of
chemical stabilizers, and, therefore, was not a chemical charge of standard
manufacture.  Moreover, the explosive employed was not of the type used by armed
forces.  The Bashiar-3 warhead has been developed by the rebel group Bashair

Meanwhile, the Syrian government appears to have discovered enough chemicals to
destroy a city in a rebel storage site in the city of Banias.  They have invited Ake
Sellstrom, the chief UN chemical weapons investigator, and UN disarmament chief
Angela Kane to Damascus for talks.

The US claims to have credible evidence of chemical weapons use by government
forces, but refuses to lay it out as the Russians have done.  Who appears more

In neighboring Syria, there is dissension and conflict among rebel groups.  A Free
Syrian Army (FSA) Senior Commander and Supreme Military Council member, Kamal
Hamani (nom de guerre Abu Basir), and his brother were killed at a checkpoint in the
Turkmen mountains near Latakia bordering the Mediterranean just south of Turkey.  
At this early stage, it seems he was shot after an argument following a pre-attack
reconnaissance of government forces.  Their assailant was the local leader of a rival
rebel group with an al-Qaeda linkage.  Increased pressure from government forces
following the fall of Qusair in early June is one likely reason for the rifts between rebel
groups; another is the filtering (by US intelligence agents) of arms being supplied by
our proxies to exclude the Islamists.  Either way, it does not bode well for the

In Egypt, we have now had another change of government; power has returned to
pre-Mubarak forces in league with even more conservative Islamists than the Muslim
Brotherhood.  The latter in their 85-year history have at least tended to work within
the system.  Various commentators claim the U.S. was working behind the scenes
aiding the anti-Morsi forces.  The economy battered by the conflict was probably the
principal cause of alienation from Morsi.  Now the floodgates have been opened by
our proxies promising $10 billion.  In the meantime, Egypt's experiment with
democracy is on hold.

There is increasing support for Edward Snowden at home as a new poll reveals a
majority (55%) of Americans consider him a whistleblower rather than a traitor.  Left
with few options, Mr. Snowden, still stranded in the transit lounge of Sheremetyevo
airport in Moscow, called for a meeting with human rights NGOs, Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch.  He announced he is now seeking temporary
asylum in Russia ... until he can slip away to South America.  Not so long ago,
freedom seeking dissidents were leaving the Soviet Union and seeking asylum in the
US!!  How the world has turned topsy-turvy ...