ANOTHER SHARP WARNING ON SYRIA – AT 9:06 A.M. ET: And from someone who knows. From London's Telegraph:
The most senior Syrian politician to defect to the opposition has warned that the regime will not hesitate to use chemical weapons if it is cornered.
Nawaf Fares, ex-ambassador to Iraq, said unconfirmed reports indicated such weapons might have already been used.
He also said that major bombings across Syria had been orchestrated by the regime in collaboration with al-Qaeda.
Syria is known to have a significant stockpile of chemical weapons and there have been growing concerns in neighbouring countries and among Western governments about the security of such weapons should the regime fall.
Asked if he thought President Assad might use chemical weapons against the opposition, Mr Fares told the BBC that he would not rule it out, describing Mr Assad as “a wounded wolf and cornered” who would only be removed “by force”.
“There is enough evidence in history that lots of enemies meet when their interests meet,” he said to explain the surprising alliance.
He added: “al-Qaeda is searching for space to move and means of support, the regime is looking for ways to terrorise the Syrian people.”
Mr Fares is the most prominent politician to defect since the uprising against President Assad began.
COMMENT: It's a frightening commentary. At the same time, I caution that, as anyone with experience in intelligence matters knows, defector reports must be studied very dispassionately, and serious confirmation must be sought. Defectors have their own personal agendas.
But the Assad family, although shrewd in diplomacy, can be ruthless. The current leader's father, Hafez al-Assad, killed thousands of his own people to put down a revolt in the city of Hama in 1982. The death toll was estimated at anything from 10,000 to 40,000. Thus far, the current regime, under Hafez al-Assad's son, has killed an estimated 14,000 to put down the ongoing insurrection.
July 17, 2012