Tag Archives: sarin

Trump’s Syria Strike Upheld an Important International Norm, But Did No More

A version of this article was published at The Sunday Express

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 15 April 2018

Britain joined the United States and France in a round of punitive military strikes in Syria on Friday night. The Coalition was retaliating for a poison gas attack by Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the Duma area of Damascus on 7 April. The three targets the Allies went after were related to his chemical weapons program. This was a just operation that upheld the norms of the international system, but there are disturbing signs that it will not be linked to a course correction in Syria. Continue reading

Trump Should Not Fear Russia In Responding to Assad’s Chemical Attack

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 10 April 2018

A child receiving oxygen after a poison gas attack in Douma, near Damascus, Syria || SYRIAN CIVIL DEFENSE WHITE HELMETS VIA AP

A year to the day after the United States struck at a Syrian airbase to punish Bashar al Assad for a chemical weapons attack, the regime has suspectedly carried out another devastating chemical atrocity. Signs are that the United States will, again, respond with force, attempting to rescue some part of the fraying international taboo against the use of poison gas. The larger question remains how Assad has gotten away with this for so long—and why murder only with certain categories of munitions prompts retaliation. Continue reading

Syria’s Regime Conducted the Khan Shaykhun Chemical Attack, United Nations Concludes

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 9 September 2017

United Nations Security Council (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

After the use of chemical weapons of mass destruction (CWMD) in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun in April, American and French intelligence publicly assessed that the perpetrator was the regime of Bashar al-Asad, and President Donald Trump acted swiftly to punish the atrocity. The United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic released a report on 6 September that ratifies these findings, concluding that Asad attacked the population of Khan Shaykhun with chemical weapons. Continue reading

France Presents Evidence Assad Committed Chemical Weapons Atrocity

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 26 April 2017

The French government has released its assessment of the 4 April chemical weapons attack in Syria, and “independently and categorically confirms that sarin was used”. France “deployed the required resources to obtain its own samples,” the report notes, and “collected biomedical and environmental samples and munitions and pieces of munitions” from this attack site and several prior. Continue reading

America Officially Blames Assad for the Chemical Attack in Khan Shaykhun

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 12 April 2017

Aftermath of the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack (source)

The United States’ cruise missile strikes in Syria in the early hours of 7 April devastated the Shayrat airbase from which, U.S. intelligence assesses, the regime of Bashar al-Assad launched the nerve agent attack on Khan Shaykhun on 4 April. The U.S. has now released its fuller assessment of the chemical attack, which includes a record of Assad’s routine use of chemical munitions since 2013. This comes amid ongoing gridlock at the United Nations Security Council, where, during a volatile session yesterday, Russia’s deputy representative, Vladimir Safronkov, accused Britain supporting the Islamic State—before vetoing the proposed resolution to have an international investigation into this latest chemical attack, a fairly strong indication that Moscow knows its client regime in Syria would be found guilty. This is the eighth time Russia has used its veto to shield Assad, though this time it was notable that China abstained, rather than join Russia in a double-veto.
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Bashar al-Assad Normalized the Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria—And We Rewarded Him

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on August 25, 2016

Originally published at The International Business Times

This week, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed what everyone already suspected: the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad had lied repeatedly about its adherence to a deal worked out in 2013, under which it would surrender its chemical weapons of mass destruction (CWMD). Continue reading

Book Review: The Consequences of Syria (2014) by Lee Smith

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 9, 2015

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Lee Smith’s The Consequences of Syria is part of the Hoover Institution’s “The Great Unravelling” series, which also included The Struggle for Mastery in the Fertile Crescent by the late Fouad Ajami (which I reviewed here.) You can purchase a copy here.

Published in June 2014, Smith narrates Syria’s terrible war to the opening months of 2014, the innumerable excuses made by the Obama administration for letting it run, and the theoretical framework behind the administration’s decision. The book is relatively short and the prose is direct; it takes very complex discussions of ideas and puts them in easily-digestible terms—all while keeping the reader’s eye on the practical implications.

Smith starts with the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the central event in President Obama’s thinking about the Middle East. Continue reading

About Those Chemical WMDs Saddam Never Had …

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on October 17, 2014

A Kurd allegedly hit with chemical weapons by the Islamic State in Kobani

A Kurd allegedly hit with chemical weapons by the Islamic State in Kobani

Since the main point of this post is “I Told You So,” I should get it over early. Some of us have maintained that—whatever the political view one takes of the invasion of Iraq—the factual question, “Where are the weapons of mass destruction?”, remains a live one. Now the New York Times agrees.
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Removing Assad Is The Only Way To Disarm His Regime Of Its WMD

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 3, 2014

These rows of murdered children are just some of the 1,400 people massacred with sarin on the morning of Aug. 21, 2013 by the Assad regime

President Obama said on April 28, in Manila: “we’re getting chemical weapons out of Syria without having initiated a strike.” This was by way of defending not launching airstrikes to punish the Assad regime after the massive gas attack near Damascus last August. Put aside the clear evidence that the regime has simply switched the using chlorine gas. This seemed dubious on its own terms. Under the deal orchestrated by the Russians, Assad became a partner in disarmament; as soon as that process comes to an end, the Western interest in keeping Assad’s regime in place is eliminated. And so it proved.
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Syria, Chemical Weapons, and the Kremlin’s Defeat of Obama

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on April 11, 2014

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That Barack Obama’s indecision on Syria is final there has been no doubt for some time. But it is worse than that. When the subject comes up in the Situation Room, President Obama could be found “disengaged …, sometimes scrolling through messages on his BlackBerry or slouching and chewing gum.” Continue reading