Former White House Chief of Staff for President Barack Obama and the current Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel once said “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Der Spiegel’s report on Syria’s alleged nuclear weapons program titled ‘Assad’s Secret: Evidence Points to Syrian Push for Nuclear Weapons’ is a true testimony to what Emanuel meant. The terror attacks in the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo took place on January 7th; two days later Der Spiegel’s report is published. The timing is perfect. Israeli media is running with it. The Tel-Aviv based www.ynetnews.com published an article titled ‘Syrian rebels: Iranian officers spotted near site of reported nuclear facility’ which confirms Der Spiegel’s accusations:
Following reports Syrian President Bashar Assad was building an underground nuclear facility, a senior Syrian rebel official told Saudi paper Okaz on Sunday that the Free Syrian Army has noted suspicious Syrian and Iranian movements in the town of Qusayr on the outskirts of Homs, where the facility is said to be.
According to the official, Abu Muhammad al-Bitar, the Free Syrian Army noted the presence of Iranian officers and “unprecedented” Hezbollah security in the area. Al-Bitar said the Friday report on Der Spiegel has been discussed at length in command meetings of rebel factions in the Kalamoon area. He went on to say that “what can be confirmed is that what’s going on there is happening under direct Iranian supervision and the Syrian regime is only a cover-up for this”
Now the Free Syrian Army is a trusted source of information? Why would the editors of Der Spiegel release their findings regarding “Assad’s Secret” nuclear weapons program right after the terrorist attack in Paris? Officials in Iran and Syria reject Der Spiegel’s claims. According to ynetnews:
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif. rejected the Der Spiegel report on Sunday as “ridiculous,” saying “the magazine’s allegation is one of the attempts made by those circles whose life has been based on violence and fear to cloud the international community with illusion and create imaginary concerns about the Islamic Republic,” according to the FARS news agency
Would Iran jeopardize the upcoming summit with U.S. officials concerning its nuclear program by assisting the Syrian government in developing nuclear weapons? A media source told the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA):
that Syria refutes these allegations in their entirety, asserting that the allegations, which were made by a magazine that often publishes preposterous allegations devoid of credibility, contradict the most basic rules of journalism ethics, and that they are part of the conspiracy and media misdirection campaign targeting Syria
Part of the report specifically focuses on the “intercepted Communication” by a high-ranking Hezbollah official and Ibrahim Othman, the head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission:
However, the clearest proof the report cited was an intercepted communication by radio traffic recently intercepted local spies, in which the voice identified as belonging to a high-ranking Hezbollah official can be heard calling the place an “atomic factory” specifically naming Qusayr as the area. More importantly, the Hezbollah official frequently updated Ibrahim Othman, the head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission. The Syrian regime has transferred 8,000 fuel rods to the plant that had been planned for a facility at Al-Kibar, it added
The new propaganda campaign against the Syrian government is a dangerous elevation towards war. Der Spiegal’s report can be a starting point for a Western media propaganda blitz that will follow their government’s line, especially in the U.S. The allegations bring back memories of Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi politician who provided false information regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s) and Saddam’s alleged connection to Al-Qaeda. The information led to the Bush administration’s decision to invade and eventually occupy Iraq in 2003.
Der Spiegel and Israeli media are following Rahm Emanuel’s advice with the recent terror attacks in Paris. With more than 40 World leaders in attendance at a Paris solidarity movement against Islamic extremism this past Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were at the forefront with French President Francois Hollande. Can Netanyahu be exploiting the terrorist attacks in Paris for an Israeli propaganda campaign against its adversaries back home because they too, face terrorism on a daily basis? Can he be as cynical as Madonna when she sent a “Je Suis Charlie” image on Instagram with a Hashtag promoting her new album ‘Rebel Heart’? Yes, of course he can. The point is that people in power especially politicians, will exploit any crises to their advantage, in this case, new accusations that Syria is in the process of developing nuclear weapons. Israeli officials in the past has warned that terrorists can eventually use “nuclear suitcases” in New York and other European cities as reported by the Washington Examiner in 2013:
An Israeli official warned that the agreement could result in a nuclear attack on the United States. “If a nuclear suitcase blows up in New York or Madrid five years from now, it will be because of the deal that was signed this morning,” Naftali Bennett, the nation’s minister of trade, industry, and labor
Bennet was speaking about Obama’s diplomatic efforts concerning Iran’s nuclear program. The Israeli government wants hegemony in the Middle East but it has a few obstacles in the way, and that is Syria and Iran. Many people in Israel prefer that the U.S. and its European allies to attack Syria. In 2013, a Gal Hadash poll was published in Israel Hayom, an Israeli national Hebrew-language newspaper and stated that more than 66 percent of respondents are in favor of a U.S. and European military intervention in Syria. For the Israeli government, a U.S-NATO attack on Syria would give the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) an open opportunity to pursue a war with Hezbollah and eventually Iran. Israel can use Der Spiegel’s report to its advantage no matter how preposterous it sounds. Right now, the world is mourning the 12 people who were gunned down in cold blood by Islamic extremists in Paris, France and you can bet Israel will exploit the tragedy to discredit its perceived enemies in the Arab world.
Israel is prepared for another war with Hezbollah as it is also awaiting the outcome of the upcoming nuclear talks between Iranian and U.S. officials which will resume on January 14th. One thing is for sure, 2015 is proving to be a very dangerous year for war and it can begin in Syria. Der Spiegel has ignited a new propaganda campaign against Syria as did the New York Times who made the same tragic mistake right before the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. But the question we need to ask is, will the world buy their story?