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Syria: Chemical weapons and global implications

By Bobson Gbinije

“And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge, with Ate by His side come hot from hell, shall in these confines with A Monarch’s   voice, cry “Havoc” and let slip the dogs   Of war”.

SHAKESPEARE (1564 – 1616) Julius Caeser

TERRORISTS and terrorism has become the horrendous predator on humanity. Hence, the English playwright William Shakespeare said that “…men have lost their reasons and power has flown to the brutish beast”. Syria’s use of chemical weapons has become a recurrent decimal and following the ‘Paris Attack’ and the subsequent United Nation’s, UN, Security Council unanimous adoption and resolution of the French-drafted document urging the UN members to “take all necessary measures” in the fight against IS.

The UN resolution 2249 also condemned the recent attacks in Sousse, Tunisia and Ankara, Turkey. The UN Security Council called on member states to “eradicate the safe haven” IS and other militant groups had established over parts of Iraq and Syria. The document also stresses that nations should “redouble and co-ordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist attacks”. However, it does not invoke the UN’s chapter VII (8) which gives specific legal authorisation for the use of force. France and Russia argued that military action is justified because of the right of countries to defend themselves.

This UN’s resolution will precipitate the ascendency of terrorism and it will stimulate its aggressive serpentine spread to all nooks and crannies of our world, and sequel to the current desire for the world to come together to launch a singular arrowhead against terrorism and terrorists, it will definitely make these murderous irritants to resort to the use of Chemical, Radiological and Biological weapons etc to perpetrate their heinous crimes against our world.

How ready is America, Russia, France, Britain, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Spain, Italy, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, Niger, Chad, Egypt, Mali, Ethiopia, South-Sudan, Yemen, Eritrea, Somalia etc to deracinate the tentacles of Biological, Radiological and Chemical weapons when unleashed on them by Islamic State(IS), Al Qaeda, Shite, Sunni, Tijaniya, Quadariya, Boko Haram, Al Shabah, Hizbollah etc terrorists groups.

It is unquestionably obvious to our world that these terrorists groups have the stockpile, productive capabilities and pragmatic quotient to produce and unleash chemical weapons on protean nations, precipitating global genocide. We have seen the unleashing of Chemical weapons in Japan, Iraq, Iran, and Kuwait etc. There is abundant evidence to show that Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Syria etc are listed by the CIA as supporters of terrorism and are believed to possess Chemical, Radiological and Biological weapons.

Nuclear, Chemical and Biological agents, as we have seen, are inherently terrorizing. They latently evoke moral dread, emotional turpitude and visceral revulsion out of proportion to their lethality. The government of any country attacked with such weapons would have difficulty controlling the anarchical entropy and apocalyptic confusion, it will cause. Because Chemical and Biological weapons are silent killers and an attack could occur at any time without warning. The attack format is cocooned in clandestinity, incalculability, unpredictability and unexpectedness of occurrence.

The first sign of a Chemical or Biological weapon attack according to the Journal of American Medical Association (1997 edition) and a United States Government Scientist, might be “hundreds or thousands of ill or dying patients”. But, despite the alluring appeal of Chemical and Biological weapons as instrument of terror, terrorists have seldom used them. Terrorists have never detonated a nuclear device. They clearly rarely used chemical weapons, except most often to poison foods – and biological and radiological agents rarely still.

Apart from the chemical weapon attack carried out by the AUM SHINRIKIYO cult in Japan in 1994 and1995 and the botched attack in Britain, there have been no cases of large scale, open air dissemination of chemical weapons. What has restrained terrorists from using them over the years? The answer involves both technical constraints, and motivational or organisational hurdles. The hurdles are cyclopean, acquiring the agents or weapons would present one set of difficulties and disseminating or exploding them would present another.

But in the current dispensation of terrorists desperation and the platitudinous network or Internet (social media and internet search engines), availability of manuals on chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons making. It has become very easy for terrorists to get what they want. One of these manuals, ‘Bacteriological Warfare: A Major Threat to North America’ is described on the internet as a book for helping readers survive a Biological weapon attack. But in fact it also describes the reproduction and growth of biological agents and includes a chapter on “bacteria likely to be used by terrorists”. The book is sold over the internet for $28:50 and is reportedly advertised on right-wing radio shows. Its author is Larry Wayne Harris, the former member of neo-Nazi organization who ordered three vials of the bacterium that causes bubonic plague.

There is a stockpile and massive proliferation of Chemical and Biological Weapons,CBW, as a result of theft by terrorists and brain-drain of Nuclear scientist to terrorists enclaves in the Middle-East and beyond as a result of the collapse of the old Soviet Union. The terrorist stole from the stockpiles in Albania in 1997, according to an Albanian military official, anti-government bandits stole chemical weapons and radioactive materials.

The stolen materials, the official warned, posed serious health hazards. Russia’s security for chemical weapons is particularly problematic. The storage sites for chemical weapons were revealed in the newspaper ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA in January 1994, and in 1995 the army chief of staff, General Kolesnikov, expressed concern that publication of the location increased the risk of theft. He also warned that the increases in crime in Russia are worsening the risk of chemical weapons attack.

The United States office of Technology Assessment claims that many of the components of these agents are widely sold for industrial purposes. For example, thiodiglycol, an immediate precursor to mustard agent, is used to make ink for ball point. All that is required to produce mustard from the material is simple acid that also is easy to obtain. Pathogens that could be used as crude biological weapons such as the common food poisons salmonella, shigella, and staphylococcus – are readily available at clinical microbiology laboratories. Terrorists   produce deadlier agents. Knowledge of microbiology, and of its potential applications to weapons, is increasingly wide spread.

*Mr. Gbinije, a social critic, wrote from Warri, Delta State.


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