Iraqs weapons of mass destruction remain missing. Although American national security was undoubtedly strengthened because of the success of the Iraq War, the failure to find banned weapons limited this success. As a result many people are asking where these weapons are.
The Iraqi preparations to hide the WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction, chemical, nuclear and biological weapons) were enormous. Hidden in civilian homes, mosques, man-made lakes, in sealed wells, and under the desert, the WMDs couldnt be usednot in the way we imagined. They were used as psychological warfare weapons. Many countries, particularly Russia, may have had a role in hiding these weapons, because some countries governments and major businesses participated in Iraqs illegal activities. It is well-known that Russia had military advisors in Baghdad shortly before the war began. Ion Pacepa, the highest-ranking East Bloc defector, wrote of how the Soviet Union developed Emergency Exit plans, in which Russia would assist rogue states to make their illegal programs disappear. The plan called for dumping some weapons in the sea, destroying others, and also waging an intense propaganda campaign against the politicians and countries that claimed the rogue state had banned weapons. Although all technical documentation and research would be preserved, the disappearance of the weapons would frustrate the West by not giving them anything they could make propaganda with. Yevgeny Primakov, one of the Russians that told Pacepa about the plan, went to Iraq and advised Saddam Hussein in the months before the war.
On January 17th, Saddam Hussein signed a secret agreement with Syria. Iraq would send three CDs of formulas and technical information about weapons including nuclear explosions; 3 test-tubes full of anthrax and botulinum spores; and detailed analysis of tests carried out with these weapons on people, to Syria, in exchange for Syria harboring Iraqi scientists, technicians and their information. By the end of February, three Iraqi microbiologists and a small group of technicians would be at safety in Syria, and a top nuclear physicist and his team soon arrived in early March. Syria made $35 million off of this deal as well.
The bulk of the weapons would later be transferred between January and March 2003 from Baghdad, Tikrit and al-Qaim. Some would be stored among Syrias own weapons, particularly at an army base north of Damascus, while the rest was shipped to Lebanons Bekka Valley, where they were put in holes 20-26 feet across and 82-115 feet deep. The holes were dug in poppy and cotton fields, in the valley stretching between Jabal Akroum, the town of al-Qbayyat and the Syrian border. Weapons were also hidden at the area between the towns of al-Hirmil and al-Labwah between the Orontes River and the Syrian border. According to several sources, Israeli satellite photos were given to the West prove this.
It is most likely that some weapons remain in Iraq, and the search should go on. For example, one search team found Mig-25s warplanes hidden in the desert. But pressure must be put on Syria. It appears that the most high-level personnel are aware of these facts, as David Kay has confirmed that he had reports of WMD components going to Syria and that Saddam sent convoys full of unidentified Iraqi equipment to Syria just prior to war. A large chunk of the WMD expertise and workers have fled to Syria and elsewhere, and no one knows what they took with them. The head of the U.S. National Imagery and Mapping Agency has also confirmed the increase in traffic to Syria before the war, and recently there have been reports that Coalition forces are focusing in on Syrias northern al-Jazirah province, specifically the desert portion in between the Iraqi and Turkish borders. It is now believed some banned weapons are buried there.
Now, some say that questionable sources such as Debkafile are the only source for this information. That is simply not true, in fact, a Syrian journalist, famous for his awards in journalistic integrity, has defected and given exact locations of the weapons in Syria. Other sources reporting the general theme, with different details without contradiction, include Janes Foreign Report, Middle East Newsline, Geostrategy-Direct.com, WorldTribune.com, and the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin. The New York Post and New York Times have also reported on the testimony of former Iraqi scientists indicating some banned weapons went to Syria. From hours of research, I have concluded that at least the general theme of the story is indeed correct.
Because of all this, the United States remains in a difficult position, unable to attack Syria because of domestic politics, the unresolved war in Iraq, and the inability to make the WMD case in Iraq. Syria's Bashar Assad is a dictator, but he is intelligent. He knows that by assisting the guerillas in Iraq and hiding Iraqs WMDs, Syria is safe. The US is unlikely to take action against Syria or its ally, Iran while the guerilla war is going on and weapons havent been found. Thus, Syrias apparently illogical actions to delay or foil a US victory, suddenly becomes understandable. Russia, who undoubtedly has tracks to hide in Iraq, will do everything it can to protect its allies like Syria and Iran, which serve as a counter-balance to "U.S. domination." Russias continued assistance to Irans nuclear program, and likely role in helping hide Iraqs WMDs, show that Russia is intent on undermining what is sees as American hegemony. Russia is pretty confident that the United States will not risk more international condemnation by moving into Syria to expose Syria's cooperation with the Iraqi WMD program. And Russia is probably right. -- Ryan Mauro (firstname.lastname@example.org)