Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, head of the IDF Military Intelligence research and analysis division.
Why did the IDF’s top analyst drop his Syria WMD bombshell?
Was Itai Brun’s public declaration that Assad’s forces have used nerve gas an effort to push US intervention? Or was it an extraordinary gaffe?
The IDF’s top intelligence analyst spoke about the international community and the way its leaders are “sucked” into the Middle East maelstrom against their will. He spoke about the changing nature of the global jihad now that some of its more powerful elements have taken root along Israel’s borders. He mentioned the rise of Islamist ideology — its surprising practicality — and the widening role of Qatar in the Sunni camp.And then, after speaking too about Iran and the challenges of intelligence work in the age of the Arab Spring, he dropped his bombshell: “To the best of our professional understanding, the regime has used lethal chemical weapons,” he said of President Bashar Assad’s Syria, noting that the IDF believed the toxic element was Sarin, a nerve agent far more deadly than cyanide, and that it had been used on more than one occasion, including in a specific attack on March 19.
The US, both before and after Brun’s statement, has gone out of its way to avoid making that kind of declaration. “We are looking for conclusive evidence, if it exists, if there was use of chemical weapons,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said later Tuesday.
In Brussels, Secretary of State John Kerry rushed to declare that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “not in a position to confirm” Brun’s assessment.
In Cairo on Wednesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he was caught by surprise by the expert IDF analyst’s definitive statement. ”They did not give me that assessment,” he said. “I guess it was not complete.Why, then, did Brun make the IDF’s determination public? US and Israeli intelligence officials meet all the time. If he had information to convey – if he was just being helpful – then he could have passed the evidence he possessed in an appropriately clandestine manner. Why contradict the official US position, and why do so while the secretary of defense is in the country? Hagel, after all, a) holds firm anti-interventionist positions; b) has just delivered Israel a whopping arms deal, and c) had confirmed just the day before that chemical weapons in Syria would be “a game changer.”;Brun, in his presentation on Tuesday, quoted Harvard professor Joseph Nye and said that in the intelligence world he is faced with two sorts of obstacles – secrets and mysteries. The former can be stolen; the latter are unknown even to those who hold the secrets. So how to classify Brun’s own revelation at the conference? Was he secretly trying to goad the US into action or was he, unbeknownst even to himself, altering the course of events in trying to present a compelling lecture?
The US, as Hagel intimated, has every right to rely solely on its own intelligence, certainly after the WMD debacle in Iraq. Israeli security officials, though, seem certain that Brun’s information is rock solid.
Recounts the shaving cream incident....
Brun, the top intelligence analyst in the IDF, does not step into daylight and speak off the cuff. Nor does he speak without the authorization of, at very least, the head of military intelligence. Publicly, authoritatively, declaring that the line has been crossed could reasonably be interpreted as a push in the direction of US action on Syrian soil.
Eiland dismissed that theory. “I don’t think Israel has any such interest,” he said.
Eiland is of course, full of sH*t- Eiland knows Israel has a huge interest in taking down Syria
Eiland characterized Israel as “very thrifty” in determining its interests. An interest, he added, is something for which you are willing to sacrifice. Israel would not likely be willing to harm its ties with the US in order to save Syrian rebels from Assad’s brutality. (Framing the narrative, Israel has many interests with Syria, water, Golan, mineral rights etc.,) Certainly not with the United States recuperating from two wars in the Middle East as a third, in Iran, a far graver threat, flickered on the horizon. What’s more, sounding the whistle and serving as the trigger for NATO or US action in Syria would put Israel in a vulnerable position, Eiland said.
Will Israel offer to take down Syria, as long as the US takes on Iran? Thinking out loud.
Shoham agreed. Dragging the US into Syria would do little for US-Israel relations and even less in terms of building a credible US military option in Iran.
What the hell is Israel cooking up? And Israel is definitely up to something!Instead, difficult as it is to believe, therefore, Brun may just have stumbled into his incendiary statement. Security experts, Eiland said, sometimes face a dilemma when asked to speak in public. “You don’t want to sound banal or boring, and you don’t want to give up secrets.”Any professional intelligence officer, Eiland said, would first and foremost worry about the dangers of making a statement that might burn a source or an agent. “You don’t want to say something that could be traced back to a certain individual,” he said. “That would be a key consideration for him.”As for Brun, a top notch officer by all accounts, putting his foot in his mouth and creating the sort of maelstrom that forces Kerry and Netanyahu to tie themselves up in knots so as to appear to agree, well, that, Eiland indicated, was entirely possible.
Syrian officials deny use of chemical weapons, say regime has no need for them
I can't disagree with the fact they (Syria) doesn' t need to use them. Syrian Army for all intents and purposes is cleaning house without the toxic cleaning agents....
The official said the Syrian army had no need for using chemical weapons “because it is capable of reaching any area in Syria it wants”
Sharif Shehadeh, a Syrian lawmaker, said the Syrian army “can win the war with traditional weapons” and has no need for chemical weapons.
Syria’s official policy is not to confirm nor deny it has chemical weapons.
Shehadeh called the U.S. claims “lies” and likened them to false accusations that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction — a claim U.S. policymakers had used to justify the invasion of that country in 2003.
“What is being designed for Syria now is similar to what happened in Iraq when Colin Powell lied in the Security Council and said Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction prior to the U.S. invasion and occupation of that country,” he said.