Is cornered and frightened Assad considering using chemical arsenal against his Syrian people?

US President Barack Obama has given Syria’s regime a stark warning that any use of chemical weapons would be a “tragic mistake” for which“there will be consequences and you will be held accountable”. What has triggered the latest expressions of US concern?

Partly, it’s probably a straightforward assessment that the regime is now cornered. Bashar al-Assad is struggling for control of his own capital and his armed forces are demonstrably unable to roll back the rebel advances in much of rural Syria. If the regime would use chemical weapons when its back is firmly against the wall, that moment could be fast approaching.

More intriguing, however, is the suggestion that Syria’s armed forces might have taken some concrete steps to prepare to use chemical weapons. One American official told the New York Times: “The activity we are seeing suggests some potential chemical weapon preparation.”

In order to deploy sarin nerve gas, for example, four or five component chemicals must be brought together and then mixed. Normally, these “precursors”, as they are known, are held separately in different facilities. If, for example, they were being brought together inside the same installation, the only plausible explanation would be that Syria’s army was preparing their use. “It would be very hard to justify,” said Dina Esfandiary, an expert on Syria’s weapons of mass destruction at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “There really isn’t another plausible explanation.”

So the US will be looking out for a key telltale sign: the concentration of precursor chemicals inside the same facility.

But Assad faces an impossible dilemma. From his point of view, the only rationale for using these weapons would be if his downfall would otherwise be absolutely inevitable. On the other hand, if he did choose to gas his enemies, that would be certain to trigger a US-led intervention that would seal his fate anyway. So rationality dictates that he should not use these weapons under any circumstances.

But even if Assad is a still a rational actor, is he fully in control? And does there come a point in the inexorable collapse of a dictatorship when rationality itself goes out of the window and the bunker syndrome takes over?

Telegraph

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OBUCXIYGC4KK6TD4VJKRHHQWXY Sami

    If Bashhar Assad was a normal person, he would have left the country from the first month of the uprising. Instead he ordered his dogs to kill the same people he is supposed to take care of. The way he is behaving is beyond belief and with that track record it will not be surprising if he does use the chemical weapons… He said he will live and die in Syria… Hope he dies before he makes that last desperate decission.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OBUCXIYGC4KK6TD4VJKRHHQWXY Sami

    If Bashhar Assad was a normal person, he would have left the country from the first month of the uprising. Instead he ordered his dogs to kill the same people he is supposed to take care of. The way he is behaving is beyond belief and with that track record it will not be surprising if he does use the chemical weapons… He said he will live and die in Syria… Hope he dies before he makes that last desperate decission.

  • Fauzia45

    When desperate,any desperate measure will be taken !!!

  • Fauzia45

    When desperate,any desperate measure will be taken !!!

  • nagy_michael2

    Bashar has used already Chemical weapons but very limited basis and as a test. It had already succeeded in killing several hundreds civilians. However until the western countries able to verify it, then unfortunately its not going to be known yet.. I like to know if Bashar still alive actually after so many attacks on the palace and close quarters..

  • nagy_michael2

    Bashar has used already Chemical weapons but very limited basis and as a test. It had already succeeded in killing several hundreds civilians. However until the western countries able to verify it, then unfortunately its not going to be known yet.. I like to know if Bashar still alive actually after so many attacks on the palace and close quarters..

  • nagy_michael2

    well here is the latest sources on possibly using the chemical weapons and I guess Bashar has his own Syria Chemical Ali.
    Syrian President Bashar Assad had evidently decided to ignore the
    warnings President Barack Obama issued Monday night that there would be
    consequences if he or anyone in Syria resorted to chemical warfare and each
    would be held accountable.

    Our sources report that the Syrian ruler is aparently gambling dangerously on
    the Americans holding back from attacking the convoys as long as they deploy
    unconventional weapons, and would only react when they are used.

    He is also taking advantage of the heavy winds, rain and cloud over this part
    of the eastern Mediterranean and counting on the weather to obstruct military
    operations against his chemical weapons units.

    By the time the weather clears some time Thursday, the units will be in place
    in battle formation. Meanwhile, bombing the convoys in windy weather could cause
    the deadly gas to spread out of control in unpredictable directions. In
    Brussels, a NATO official announced that the alliance had agreed to augment
    Turkey’s air-defense capabilities by deploying Patriot missiles to
    Turkey.debkafile’s military
    sources report that by the time the missiles arrive, the Syrian chemical weapons
    units will almost certainly have reached their pre-planned positions.
    Furthermore, the Patriot air defense systems are not designed to counter
    artillery and would therefore be unable to stop shells loaded with poison
    gas.

  • nagy_michael2

    well here is the latest sources on possibly using the chemical weapons and I guess Bashar has his own Syria Chemical Ali.
    Syrian President Bashar Assad had evidently decided to ignore the
    warnings President Barack Obama issued Monday night that there would be
    consequences if he or anyone in Syria resorted to chemical warfare and each
    would be held accountable.

    Our sources report that the Syrian ruler is aparently gambling dangerously on
    the Americans holding back from attacking the convoys as long as they deploy
    unconventional weapons, and would only react when they are used.

    He is also taking advantage of the heavy winds, rain and cloud over this part
    of the eastern Mediterranean and counting on the weather to obstruct military
    operations against his chemical weapons units.

    By the time the weather clears some time Thursday, the units will be in place
    in battle formation. Meanwhile, bombing the convoys in windy weather could cause
    the deadly gas to spread out of control in unpredictable directions. In
    Brussels, a NATO official announced that the alliance had agreed to augment
    Turkey’s air-defense capabilities by deploying Patriot missiles to
    Turkey.debkafile’s military
    sources report that by the time the missiles arrive, the Syrian chemical weapons
    units will almost certainly have reached their pre-planned positions.
    Furthermore, the Patriot air defense systems are not designed to counter
    artillery and would therefore be unable to stop shells loaded with poison
    gas.