Washington (AsiaNews): Bashar Assad denies having used chemical weapons against his own people. He did so in an interview with CBS television, which will be broadcast later today . The Syrian president also says that there is "no proof" that his government has used such weapons. His statements are at odds with those of Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who are working to increase international support for an attack against Syria, guilty of having used chemical weapons.
In recent days, Kerry has been in Paris and London to urge the members of the European Union to attack. He said that "the evidence speaks for itself " and that the link between chemical weapons and the Assad government is "irrefutable ."
In fact, U.S. intelligence sources quoted by the Washington Blog, say that the so-called "irrefutable evidence" was manipulated to reach the desired conclusion, that of a military attack against Syria.
The intelligence sources speak of a telephone call intercepted by Israel's famed Unit 8200 in which the Syrian Foreign Ministry demands an explanations from the Military as to whether there had been an unauthorized attack with chemical weapons. From the tone of the conversation , it was clear that the member of the ministry " was out of hi mind with panic ." According to the original Unit 8200 transcript, the military officer "vehemently denied the use of any missile "and urged the ministry member to see for themselves that all weapons [ chemical ] were present and accounted for. In the end, the military has concluded that "all the weapons were under control."
In the descriptions of Kerry and the U.S. administration this last important detail is never mentioned. .
In fact, many observers and analysts fear that the rebels are in possession of chemical weapons , and that they used them against their own people to push the international community to hit Assad and promote their cause.
Meanwhile in the U.S., the Obama campaign continues to win public opinion and snatch a vote in the Senate and Congress , which resume sessions today after the summer break.
Obama will give interviews to four national television channels and with his staff is contacting senators and parliamentarians one by one. But so far it seems that he can only rely on a third of politicians. Public opinion in the U.S. is 60% against the attack on Syria.
Some commentators contrast Obama's outrage at the scandal of the use of chemical weapons and several hundred dead, and his silence over the 100 thousand dead Syrians in these two years and more of civil war. Ezra Klein , on Bloomberg , notes with irony that " the American intervention will encourage future dictators to kill with firearms, rather than with sarin ."
Yesterday Pope Francis again urged Christians to pray for Syria and the Middle East , thanking Catholics , Christians of other denominations , members of other religions for taking part in the prayer vigil for peace organized on September 7 evening in St Peter's Square . Announcing the vigil, at the Angelus of September 1 , the pope said : " With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable!".
It is clear that a peace conference rather than chemical weapons should be the priority.
On September 5 , Msgr. Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States, expressed the Vatican 's concerns for Syria to all ambassadors to the Holy See:
" First of all - he said - it is indispensable to do one's utmost for the revival of the dialogue between the parties and for the reconciliation of the Syrian people. Then the unity of the country must be preserved, avoiding the establishment of different zones for the various components of the society. Finally, next to the unity of the country, its territorial integrity must also be guaranteed.
It will be important to ask all the groups - in particular those who hope to recover posts of responsibility in the country - to offer guarantees that in tomorrow's Syria there will be posts for all, also and in particular for the minorities, including the Christians. The concrete application of the said principle can take various forms, but in every case the importance of respect for human rights cannot be forgotten and, in particular, that of religious liberty. Likewise, it is important to have as reference the concept of citizenship, on the basis of which everyone, regardless of their ethnic or religious membership, has the same citizen's standard and dignity, with equal rights and duties, free "to profess publicly their own religion and to contribute to the common good" (cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the Diplomatic Corps, January 7, 2013). Finally, a cause of particular concern is the growing presence in Syria of extremist groups, often coming from other countries. Hence the importance of exhorting the population and also opposition groups to distance themselves from such extremists, to isolate them and to oppose terrorism openly and clearly."