Kommentar

Samtidig som utenriksminister John Kerry gir en sterkt følelsesladet fordømmelse av Assad og krever at han straffes, kommer opplysninger om at USA med viten og vilje støttet Saddam Husseins langt mer omfattende bruk av gass mot Iran i krigen mellom de to land.

Det avgjørende her er den moralske fordømmelsen: John Kerry hevdet at det var enestående i nyere historie at myndigheter bruker kjemiske våpen mot befolkningen. Derfor må Assad straffes, for å opprettholde avskrekkingen: ledere som bruker slike våpen skal vite at det vil bli få konsekvenser.

Men hvis USA ga strategisk informasjon til Saddam Hussein som gjorde det mulig for ham å angripe iranske menneskelige bølger med giftgass, hvor overbevisende lyder fordømmelsen?

Det er bladet Foreign Policy som har gravd i nedgraderte dokumenter og funnet den begredelige historien om supermaktens kalkyler:

In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.

The intelligence included imagery and maps about Iranian troop movements, as well as the locations of Iranian logistics facilities and details about Iranian air defenses. The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq’s favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration’s long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn’t disclose.

USA under Ronald Reagan hadde kommet til at man ikke kunne la Iran vinne krigen. Uansett. Derfor lot man gassangrepene finne sted.

USA har hele tiden benektet at man ble informert av irakerne om deres planer. Men USA trengte ikke slik informasjon for å vite. Det hadde all informasjon selv.

Det er en tidligere militærattache i Bagdad, pensjonert oberst i luftforsvaret, Rick Francona, som røper de ubehagelige sannheter for Foreign Policy:

«The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew,» he told Foreign Policy.

Francona, an experienced Middle East hand and Arabic linguist who served in the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, said he first became aware of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran in 1984, while serving as air attaché in Amman, Jordan. The information he saw clearly showed that the Iraqis had used Tabun nerve agent (also known as «GA») against Iranian forces in southern Iraq.

The declassified CIA documents show that CIA-director William Casey and other top officials were repeatedly informed about Iraq’s chemical attacks and its plans for launching more. «If the Iraqis produce or acquire large new supplies of mustard agent, they almost certainly would use it against Iranian troops and towns near the border,» the CIA said in a top secret document.

But it was the express policy of Reagan to ensure an Iraqi victory in the war, whatever the cost.

Iran

Iran forsøkte å skaffe bevis for at deres soldater ble utsatt for kjemiske våpen. Da kunne landet tatt saken opp i FN. USA hadde risikert å bli anklaget for medskyldighet.
Ut fra konvensjonene hadde USA en plikt til å rapportere bruk av slike forbudte våpen til FN.

Irak anvendte til å begynne med sennepsgass mot Iran. På det tidspunkt assisterte ikke USA Saddam. Forsvarsdepartementet foreslo i 1986 et samarbeid med Saddam, men State Department og CIA anså Saddam og hans menn for å være bøller.

Dette endret seg da amerikansk etterretning oppdaget at Iran hadde identifsert et stort hull i irakiske forsvarslinjer rundt Basra. Hvis iranerne inntok Basra ville den irakiske fronten bryte sammen. Nå la USA alle moralske hensyn til side.

The situation changed in 1987. CIA reconnaissance satellites picked up clear indications that the Iranians were concentrating large numbers of troops and equipment east of the city of Basrah, according to Francona, who was then serving with the Defense Intelligence Agency. What concerned DIA analysts the most was that the satellite imagery showed that the Iranians had discovered a gaping hole in the Iraqi lines southeast of Basrah. The seam had opened up at the junction between the Iraqi III Corps, deployed east of the city, and the Iraqi VII Corps, which was deployed to the southeast of the city in and around the hotly contested Fao Peninsula.

The satellites detected Iranian engineering and bridging units being secretly moved to deployment areas opposite the gap in the Iraqi lines, indicating that this was going to be where the main force of the annual Iranian spring offensive was going to fall, Francona said.

In late 1987, the DIA analysts in Francona’s shop in Washington wrote a Top Secret Codeword report partially entitled «At The Gates of Basrah,» warning that the Iranian 1988 spring offensive was going to be bigger than all previous spring offensives, and this offensive stood a very good chance of breaking through the Iraqi lines and capturing Basrah. The report warned that if Basrah fell, the Iraqi military would collapse and Iran would win the war.

President Reagan read the report and, according to Francona, wrote a note in the margin addressed to Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci: «An Iranian victory is unacceptable.»

Forsvarets etterretningstjeneste, DIA, ble deretter fullmakt til å gi irakerne så mye detaljert informasjon som mulig om iranske stillinger og troppebevegelser.

The DIA was authorized to give the Iraqi intelligence services as much detailed information as was available about the deployments and movements of all Iranian combat units. That included satellite imagery and perhaps some sanitized electronic intelligence. There was a particular focus on the area east of the city of Basrah where the DIA was convinced the next big Iranian offensive would come. The agency also provided data on the locations of key Iranian logistics facilities, and the strength and capabilities of the Iranian air force and air defense system. Francona described much of the information as «targeting packages» suitable for use by the Iraqi air force to destroy these targets.

The sarin attacks then followed.

CIA kalkulerer at totredeler av alle irakiske gassangrep ble utført de siste 18 månedene krigen varte. CIA opererte med fra «hundrevis» til «tusenvis» av drepte i hvert av angrepene.

Francona besøkte personlig Fao-øya, ved innfallsporten til Basra, som kostet begge parter enormt i blod og materiell.

Francona visited the Fao Peninsula shortly after it had been captured by the Iraqis. He found the battlefield littered with hundreds of used injectors once filled with atropine, the drug commonly used to treat sarin’s lethal effects. Francona scooped up a few of the injectors and brought them back to Baghdad — proof that the Iraqis had used sarin on the Fao Peninsula.

Gassangrepene var effektive. Saddam hadde ingen skrupler med å benytte dem.

Kjemiske våpen vant krigen for ham.

In the ensuing months, Francona reported, the Iraqis used sarin in massive quantities three more times in conjunction with massed artillery fire and smoke to disguise the use of nerve agents. Each offensive was hugely successful, in large part because of the increasingly sophisticated use of mass quantities of nerve agents. The last of these attacks, called the Blessed Ramadan Offensive, was launched by the Iraqis in April 1988 and involved the largest use of sarin nerve agent employed by the Iraqis to date.

Den amerikanske ledelsen var fullstendig klar over hva som foregikk, og hva informasjonen de overleverte ble brukt til. Man kan vanskelig kalle det annet enn medskyldighet i den aktive formen.

Hva et slikt samarbeid kan føre med seg er Halabja et eksempel på.

Saddam drepte guttungene som ble sendt i bølger mot irakiske linjer. At de bar uniform var ayatollah Khomeinis ansvar.

Men i Halabja, en kurdisk by på grensen til Iran var det ingen slike «omstendigheter». Saddam angrep sivile med gass og drepte hundrevis. CIA hadde hatt rett i sin bedømming av Saddam og hans menn.

Halabja viser konsekvensene av den passive medskyldighet: USA var med på lasset og fikk dermed interesse av at ikke den fulle og hele sannhet om Halabja ble kjent. Det var folk som Peter Galbraith og Jeffrey Goldberg som alarmerte verden om Halabja.

Avsløringene om USAs støtte til Saddams gasskrig er slik informasjon som folk i Midtøsten noterer seg. Det burde gjøre det litt vanskeligere for John Kerry å klatre opp på den moralske hest.

Konflikten mellom supermaktsinteresser og moral er uløselig, og stiller noen ganger lederne overfor forferdelig og umulige valg. Man kringkaster ugjerne slike avgjørelser.

Den amerikanske offentlighetsloven gjør at hemmelighetene kommer for en dag.

USA befinner seg igjen i skjæringspunktet mellom kald realpolitikk og behovet for å beskytte idealer. Det finnes en fare i at man kan bli forgapt i sine egne idealer.

Skal man ha den rette balanse og innsikt må man bli klar over sitt eget rulleblad. Den aktive støtten til Saddams gassangrep kaster skygger over USAs forhold til Assad og Syria.

 

 

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/08/25/secret_cia_files_prove_america_helped_saddam_as_he_gassed_iran?page=0,2

 

NRK omtalte saken 25/8: http://www.nrk.no/nyheter/verden/1.11203212