BBC Radio Scotland: Peter Ford, former British Ambassador to Syria
BBC: There’s a lot of tough talk on all sides here, I wonder where you think it will lead us?
PF: Well I greatly fear that it will lead us to the edge of Armageddon. It’s time to take a deep breath and consider where we’ve got ourselves into as a result of mainly hysteria and distortion. The worst case is that Trump does really launch off with some very unwise, multiple attacks on Syria, and given that Rusian forces are deeply embedded with Syrian forces, in particular air defence, it’s highly likely that scores of Russian soldiers will be killed.
If anyone thinks that Russia will simply take that lying down, I think they need to think again. Russian planes in the last twelve hours have been buzzing US destroyers in the eastern Mediteranean. Please, I think everybody needs to take a deep breath before something truly horrible occurs, affecting the security of us all, including in this country.
We have forces in Syria, the Government don’t like to talk about this, but one was sadly killed a few days ago, revealing the extent of our existing military involvement in Syria. So at the very least, our own forces will be exposed to grave danger.
BBC: Indeed it’s not just the US president though, who’s appauled by what they’ve seen, in terms of these pictures coming from Douma, we’ve had condemnation from President Macron, likewise from Prime Minister Theresa May too.
If it isn’t the sort of military action that you’ve just outlined there, what should be the response to this use of chemical weapons, if it’s proved?
PF: The correct response is obviously, and I think a child could see this, get inspectors onto the alleged site of the alledged offences, and in fact in the last few hours, Russia has offered to provide military escorts for inspectors from the recognised body in this field, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Warfare [OPCW]. This however…
[INTERRUPTION BY BBC]
BBC: And if it’s proved, then what? Because of course we know that Assad has form on this. We’ve had investigations previously, and there has been fairly conclusive proof that chemical agents have been used.
PF: I don’t think that Assad is in the least worried that the inspectors would find out his guilt, because he is probably not guilty, at least on this occasion. I mean we have to engage our brains as well as our emotions here, not be stampeded by those videos, which are decribed as being unverified, but which by dent of being repeated, over and over and over again, come to acquire a spurious credibility.
We have to ask ourselves, what are the sources of the information on which we are on this stampede to war. They are twofold, and I’m sorry but the media are falling down on the job in investigating this, the sources are the Syrian American Medical Society, which is a pro-Islamist propaganda outfit, based in the United States, funded by the CIA…
[INTERUPTION BY BBC]
BBC: So you are saying that, are you saying that these pictures have been staged, are you saying the people haven’t died, that people haven’t been affected…?
PF: Yes! Yes! Yes!
In all probability the incidents have been staged.
Come on, we know how easy it is to fake images for the internet. Look at the images, anybody could stage those, and then the second source is supposed to be so called first responders, who are the first responders? In this case they are the White Helmets, which is another pro-Islamist, Jihadi propaganda outfit, who on the ground have been involved…
[INTERUPTION BY BBC]
BBC: This is an awful lot of effort to discredit Assad…
PF: Please let me finish! Please let me finish! Please let me finish this important point.
The witnesses to the terrible events are people who themselves were involved in beheadings, literally picking up the body parts, and we choose to give credence to testimony from these alledged first responders. I’m sorry but the journalists need to do their…
[BBC STARTS SPEAKING OVER PF]
BBC: But Assad’s reputation was already in, in, Assad’s reputation was already in difficulty…
PF: Could you please stop inter… Would you please let me finish, for at least a whole point?
BBC: Well I’m trying, I’m to ask you a question to prove the point of what you’re making.
PF: You don’t allow, the BBC does not allow questions of important detail to be addressed.
BBC: We have a short period of time, I am trying to probe what you are saying. The point is that Assad’s reputation is already clearly dented, what would be in the interests of these people to stage these events?
PF: Well is that not obvious, a child can see. To have our own leash jerked by these Islamist fanatics. This is what’s going on, and ask yourself, how has it profited Assad?
Please, engage your brain and answer the question. How has Assad benefited from all this mayhem?
In fact it’s rebounded against him. Why would he do such a thing when he was already winning?
The battle for eastern Gouta was virtually over. Why would he choose this moment to do the one thing that would pluck defeat for him from the jaws of victory?