by Stephen Bryen
When the little children, the mothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents and fathers who died in the Syrian Army’s gas attack wake from the dead they will learn that they were killed by their government with help from Europe, Russia, Iran and other countries.
What kind of help?
What we know right now is that the British Government authorized the sale of nerve gas chemical precursors to Syria after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. The licenses were for potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride.
Sarin, the nerve gas that killed them as they slept in their bedrooms or on the rooftops (where families often sleep during the hot months in the Middle East), was developed originally by Nazi Germany in 1939. Originally called T-144, the gas was later named after its inventors who were Schrader,Ambros,Rudriger and van der Linde. After the war the allies learned about sarin and other nerve agents including soman. The Russians industrialized it quickly and in 1946 the Stalin Prize, First Class, was awarded to M.I. Kabachnik for his work in building the requisite factories for production of the agent.
Sarin is an agent that is not long lasting, so stockpiles of sarin can deteriorate. Iraq, which used sarin against the Iranians and against the Kurds (who were Iraqi citizens) during the Saddam period produced substantial quantities of sarin and other toxic agents. Learning largely from Soviet practice, Iraq mixed nerve gas with other agents. News reports suggest the Syrians are doing the same thing, and this may because the Russians either directly, or through the Iranians, advised them to do so.
In the Iraq-Iran war there was very heavy use of chemical weapons, including sarin, during the battle for the Fao (or al Faw) peninsula. This is located on the Iraq-Iran border along the Shatt al-Arab in the marshy area bordering the Persian Gulf. It is strategic because it controls traffic on the river including oil. The U.S. role in this battle remains problematic at best and complicit at worst. At that time, Iran did not have nerve gas, but Iran did. And Iran used the gas in heavy amounts against the enemy. It is acknowledged that the U.S. provided key satellite intelligence aND military advisors to Saddam’s Iraqi forces at the time, and tried to directly provide military atropine injectors to Iraq’s army, disregarding the fact that the “enemy” did not have nerve gas. A license for 1.2 million “Atropen” injectors was requested with the support of the State Department and elements in the Pentagon (including the Pentagon legal department). In the end, the license was blocked, but what is not known is whether alternative supplies were “facilitated” by the U.S. government. Photos from after the battle should thousands of discarded syringes and pills coming from Europe, primarily Swiss pharmaceutical companies. What role Washington played is not known.
Atropine is an antidote to nerve gas because it frees constrictions in the lungs caused by nerve agents. If it is used within moments, it can save the life of a soldier or civilian.
Of course the children who died in Syria and their families, certainly had no protection at all. Does the Syrian Army have atropine injectors, and if so where did they get them? And do they have chemical protective gear, and if so, from where?
These and a host of other questions about global culpability should be answered.
Syria is not an advanced industrial country, and neither is Iran. Both are backward and have to get their technology from “outside.” So who is outside?
As the British case illustrates, the murdered children and their families when they awake from the dead should be told the truth. Who will tell them? Will it be arrogant governments who know very well that their deaths could have been prevented? Will it be the Russians or the Iranians who simply lie about what they have done? Will it be the Syrian regime who fired the Grad rockets filled with sarin and other lethal gases?