Syrian George Jabbour claims Damascenes obsessed with threats from US

Former Syrian parliamentarian says he’s deeply mistrustful of videos he’d seen of victims

Smoke rises from al-Jazmati area after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo yesterday. Photograph: Hamid Khatib/Reuters.

Smoke rises from al-Jazmati area after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo yesterday. Photograph: Hamid Khatib/Reuters.

Tue, Sep 3, 2013, 01:15

Damascenes are obsessed with US threats of strikes against government targets in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons against the capital’s eastern countryside, former Syrian parliamentarian George Jabbour said yesterday.

“The daily conversation among everybody is like talking about the weather,” he said. “Will it rain, or not? Will they strike, or not?”

Speaking to The Irish Times in neighbouring Lebanon, Dr Jabbour, a veteran commentator, said “the regime is fighting America’s war against al-Qaeda.” Therefore, if US strikes on Syria were not intended to topple the regime, as US president Barack Obama has said, military action “will make the regime stronger”.

Syria’s defence to possible cruise missile attacks could, he said, “show whether US or Russian arms are more effective.

Part of what is happening is driven by the competition between the Russian and US military-industrial complexes.”


Russian weapons
Russian president Vladimir Putin had attempted to defuse this situation and promote compromise by stating that deliveries of Russian weapons to Syria “have been suspended because Damascus has not paid for them,” he said.

Another aspect of the crisis was Mr Obama’s fury over Moscow’s granting of asylum to fugitive US intelligence operative Edward Snowden, who revealed the extent of US and British electronic eavesdropping on private citizens. According to Dr Jabbour, the US and Russia are playing a “Cold War game paid for by the blood of the Syrians”.

Dr Jabbour said he did “not know if chemical weapons were used” and was deeply mistrustful of videos he’d seen of victims and claims put forward by rebel groups, the opposition, and their western and Arab backers. In his view, the videos looked “too well produced, too sophisticated” to be believed. “They should be more naive, more natural.”

He suggested several possible scenarios if the allegations of chemical weapons use was proven: “If there was the intention to use such weapons, it is horrible, and the perpetrators must be punished.

“It is less horrible if the scene was manufactured or the weapons were exploded by accident.”