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NightWatch 20121205

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NightWatch

For the night of 5 December 2012

Syria: A senior U.S. official told Fox News that the Syrians loaded bombs with components of sarin gas. They have 60 days to use these bombs until the chemical mixture expires and has to be destroyed, according to the report.

According to NBC News, bombs filled with a sarin components have not yet been loaded onto planes, but that the Syrian military is prepared to use these chemical weapons against civilians pending orders from President Bashar Assad.

Comment: Yesterday, 4 December, a senior US Defense official stated there was no evidence that the chemicals used to create sarin gas had been mixed. A day later, the chemicals are reportedly mixed.

No intelligence service has the ability to make such a determination except from testimony from human sources -- from direct observation by the source or detected from radio intercepts. Both collection systems are highly vulnerable to deception and manipulation. In other words, the message from Syria could be intended to persuade the West and others to reduce their  support to the opposition.

NightWatch reported on Monday that the Asad regime reportedly had reached the point where it wanted the option to use chemical weapons. Those news sources appear to have been accurate. Nevertheless, the regime has not yet decided to employ these weapons, as of this Watch.

Saddam Hussein showed that chemical weapons can be used with some degree of precision, depending on lots of factors which include prevailing winds. His chemical warriors proved that non-persistent agents can kill a limited number of people in a relatively small space in a half hour and determine the outcome of a war. Moreover, these agents are difficult to detect after the fact.

The prospect of death from chemical aerosols or clouds, which have no sensory indicators, must be a game changer for poorly equipped opposition fighters. Western countries cannot react fast enough to keep the fighters from dying.

The world knows that chemical weapons can be decisive. They ended Iraq's eight year war against Iran. Iranian soldiers died by the thousands in multiple battles, wearing American chemical protection gear. The Syrian opposition fighting groups have no protection.

The Syrian government can ride out the international outrage, assuming it survives. If it does not, the outrage is trivial, sound and fury signifying nothing. If the Asad government survives, it will have handled the best the US, the French, the Turks, NATO and the Saudis have. Iran will win.

Egypt: Central Security Forces have been summoned to defend the President. Units parked two trucks between rival groups of protesters and fired tear gas, putting an end to the clashes and creating a buffer zone.

Comment: The pro-Mursi and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood have gathered in Cairo to defend the President and the constitution. There will be more clashes.

Mali: International military intervention to oust militants from Mali is nearly inevitable, but action is not likely until September or October 2013, UN Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous said on 5 December.

Comment: This statement means that the Malian parties have ten or eleven months to achieve a negotiated settlement.

End of NightWatch for 5 December.

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