FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Syria’s Secret Chemical Weapons Sources

by M. KOOHZAD

A few retired American generals tell us, mainly on the 24-hour news channels, that possessing chemical weapons is illegal. This is true, according to the Geneva Convention of 1925. But, countries that have not signed this document are not obligated to follow the law. The US did not sign it until 1975, right after using the largest amount of chemicals ever used in warfare, including Agent Orange in Vietnam. The mainstream media also tell us that Iraq and Syria were not among the signatories. Many of the reporters do not know why! Actually, Iraq and Syria did not even exist in 1925. Iraq obtained independence from the British in 1932 and Syria received independence in 1946 from the French. Indeed, many of the present problems in both nations are among the unsolved legacies of European colonialism.

Of course, owning and using the chemical materials are illegal acts, but what about producing and selling them? Essentially, we need to know who is supplying these weapons to Syria. I put this question to four activists-authors-scholars who I thought might know. Before receiving any answer, I googled my own question. I got one big hit. According to an article in the Guardian, the British government issued a license to a British company allowing the sales of chemical arsenals to Syria.

From two of those individuals that I contacted, I have received no reply. The other two answered via emails. One said these materials came from Iraq and another one alleged they came from Saudi Arabia. It is not astonishing, however, if both Iraq and Saudi Arabia presently have chemical arsenals. But, Iraqis and Saudis still had to buy the chemical weapons or the raw materials from somebody else. In the case of Iraq, the chemical arsenals might be the leftovers of what Western manufacturers, including the US, sold Saddam.

On September 4, 2013, I left a comment/question at the end of Mr. Mufid Abdulla’s (2013) article dealing with similarities between Assad and Saddam’s chemical attacks. I wrote “Does anybody know what countries/companies produce and supply Syria with these chemical weapons?” To my surprise one reader by the penname of Nuha left a link under my question leading me to a site belonging to rt.com. Apparently, rt or Russia Today, is an international multilingual Russian-based television network located in Moscow. It is registered as an autonomous non-profit organization. Evidently, it is the most popular news channel in Britain after the BBC and Sky.

Most of the information in the rt.com’s brief article came from two British newspapers, the Daily Mail and the Sunday Mail. The site reported that “Between July 2004 and May 2010, the British government issued five export licenses to two companies, allowing them to sell Syria sodium fluoride, necessary for the production of Sarin, a nerve gas that is hundreds of times deadlier than cyanide, is considered one of the world’s most dangerous chemical warfare agents. It works on the nervous system, over-stimulating muscles and vital organs, and a single drop can be lethal in minutes.” The site also reported, “The January 2012 licenses were given in the knowledge that both substances could also be used as precursor chemicals in the manufacture of chemical weapons…”

There is hardly any research done with regards to similarities between Iraq and Syria’s sources of the chemical weapons. It is well known, however, that the Western powers received cash rewards and were compensated for producing and providing Saddam Hussein with all types of poisonous gases that he used to kill civilian Kurds. John Simpson of BBC was on the ground in Halabja in 1988. He was one of the few Western journalists who tried to count the dead bodies of the victims of Western technology and Eastern brutality in this city. Simpson was sure that more than 5,000 mainly Kurdish children were killed by chemical weapons in Halabja. He wrote in 2012, in the only investigative recordings so far available, “There is a clear political sense that as long as those foreign companies that knowingly supplied these awful weapons remain unpunished, this tragic chapter will never fully be closed.” (My emphasis).

Apparently, Iraq had the basic capability to produce some rudimentary forms of these types of weapons locally. It is highly likely that producing poisonous gases to kill the Kurds in Iraq goes back to the time when the British Royal Air Force initiated killing the Kurds in northern Iraq. Sir Winston Churchill approved the use of leftover mustard gas from WWI against the Kurds in May of 1919. But, according to Simpson (2012) the Soviet Union was the most important supplier of the raw materials, machineries, and training of the Iraqis in the use and application of these killing materials in Kurdistan.

Based on many of the shells found at Halabja, Simpson reported, “With regard to Western companies, there is data pointing to 85 German19 French18 British and18 US suppliers.” Thus, a total of 140 Western corporations participated in being “merchants of death” to Saddam Hussein. More importantly, more than half, 61%, of the companies were German owned. But, it is still not possible to learn who sold Saddam the most gas or received most of the money from Baghdad. It is probable that a single American or British manufacturing corporation could have supplied the largest amount and even received less cash rewards. Ankara, Baghdad, Tehran, and Damascus could not have killed the largest numbers of civilian Kurds without direct support, sales, and participation from the West.

The Kurds have been murdered longer and more frequently than any other ethnic group in the history of mankind. The caves and the mountains of Kurdistan are the most gassed places in the world. The British work of killing Kurds from above was continued by Ataturk in 1925 and 1937-38. His adopted daughter, Sabiha Gokcen, Turkey’s first woman pilot, actively took part in the air campaign against the Kurds. She carried out bombing sorties over civilian-populated areas. The countries that supplied the largest amount of chemical weapons to Saddam knew well ahead of time that he was going to kill more Kurds, over 182,000 of them.

In all of these mass-murders, acts of genocide, the Western colonial powers – including the American, the British, the French, the Germans, and the Russians – were willing participants. Actually, the American corporations selling as merchants of death were competing with the European ones in selling Saddam whatever he wished to buy. These countries/companies benefited financially from the killing of the Kurds because of their ethnicity. The sources and suppliers of the chemical weapons are no longer a secret. The Western corporations that knowingly provided chemical weapons to Saddam or Assad must not remain unpunished.

Dr. M. Koohzad is a Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern Studies in the United States. 

Sources:

Abdulla, Mufid. “Assad’s chemical attack is reminiscent of Saddam.” Kurdistan tribune.com, September 4, 2013. http://kurdistantribune.com/2013/assads-chemical-attack-reminiscent-of-saddam/

rt.com. “UK delivered Syria chemicals needed for sarin production ‘for 6 years’”rt.com, Published time: September 08, 2013 12:03. Edited time: September 09, 2013 05:33. http://rt.com/news/uk-sarin-syria-weapons-chemical-573/

Simpson, John. “Halabja chemical weapons: A chance to find the men who armed Saddam.” bbc.co.uk, 2 December 2012 Last updated at 19:02 ET.http://www.bbc.co.uk/ news/magazine-20553826

Dr. Koohzad is the author of a forthcoming book entitled: Kurdistan: World’s Largest International Colony.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
Charles R. Larson
A Review of Mary Roach’s “Grunt”
David Yearsley
Stuck in Houston on the Cusp of the Apocalypse
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail