The recent use of toxic chlorine gas by terrorist groups against Syrian civilians and army soldiers in the battered city of Aleppo has raised a lot of concerns. Syria has called on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to investigate the use of banned agents by the militants. Press TV has spoken to Richard Becker, a member of the ANSWER Coalition, as well as Michael Lane, founder of the American Institute for Foreign Policy, to discuss the ongoing violent conflict in Syria, particularly the use of chemical weapons.
Becker says the reason why the use of chemical weapons by the terrorists in Syria is not reported in mainstream media in the West is “entirely political,” adding that their reports are more based on interests rather than on what is “factually accurate.”
He also stated that the West seeks to portray chemical attacks in a way that is “detrimental” to the government of President Bashar al-Assad, adding that this is not the first time that militant groups in Syria have used chemical weapons in an attempt to blame it on the Syrian army.
“We should remember that back in 2013, President Obama said that if the Syrian army used chemical weapons, that would be a red line and then there was a staged use of chemical weapons by some of the forces that are seeking to overthrow the [Syrian] government in order to make it appear that the red line has been crossed. That brought the US to the brink of the bombing [campaign in Syria],” he said.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Becker argued that infighting among various militant groups in northwestern Syria may very well have a big impact on the overall conflict.
He also noted that the terrorist groups, which are fighting each other in Syria, do not present themselves as “a viable alternative” to a large part of the Syrian population.
“And I have to say that a very significant part of the Syrian population has continued to support the government in Damascus, even those who had criticisms in the past of the government … have seen the government as a secular government, as certainly preferable to what many of the rebel groups have in mind for the future of Syria and for the future of the people of Syria,” he stated.
The analyst concluded by saying that contrary to the West's predictions that the Assad government would not last, it did not fall because it has a “very significant base of support.”
Meanwhile, the other panelist on Press TV’s program, Michael Lane opined that the world should be “shocked” and “outraged” if reports on the use of chemical weapons by terrorists in Syria turn out to be accurate.
“But the alleged use so far is fairly small. It has not been confirmed. But we are in a process of trying to determine who is going to conduct the international investigation … and so until we have more evidence that this is happening and not just a public relations ploy, it has been underplayed,” he stated.
He acknowledged, however, that this a “hot” and “controversial” issue, which naturally requires more media attention.
Lane further asserted that Russia has done an “extraordinarily good job” of establishing its presence, influence, and ability to determine the ultimate outcome of the conflict in Syria.
The analyst said he finds it rather surprising that the United States has been standing idly by and watching Russia establish its dominance in the Middle East in the past few years.
He also argued that the United States is no longer the most “influential player” in Syria, and that President Assad is not going to be removed from power anytime soon; rather, he will be able to serve as long as Russia wants.
According to Lane, US President Barack Obama is going to hand over to President-elect Donald Trump a situation in the Middle East wherein Washington’s influence is diminished and its options very limited.
“It will be interesting to see what happens in 60 days when the United States has a new president, a new foreign policy, a new approach to the theater. We will see whether President Donald Trump and his approach will differ in any way from that of President Obama which has been very weak,” he stated.