Sniper Attacks on UN Inspectors – Not Surprising | Charles Duelfer

Sniper Attacks on UN Inspectors – Not Surprising

Dr. Ake Seltron’s UN inspection team has now drawn sniper fire. Unfortunately, the UN inspectors are easy targets. To do their job, they have to be out in the open. Using highly visible UN SUVs may be questionable, but committed opponents can track team movements as they leave their hotels even in other vehicles.

Multiple parties have an interest in thwarting their activities. The Damascus regime itself not want them to do their job–but not want to be blamed for blocking them. Sniper fire is anonymous and can be blamed on either side. Rebels could easily order sniper fire that would be attributed to the Bashir Regime. The inspectors are going into a no-man’s land where many have died and no one will ever know who killed them.

During UN inspections in Iraq, the government was explicitly responsible for the safety of the UN teams–and for the most part they did this. There was not an on-going conflict. Damascus, apparently has made no such assurances for the current team. Likely, they have simply said, if you go into rebel territory, we can offer no protection. You are on your own.

Ake Sellstrom, the team leader, must make a careful choice about the risks his team will endure. Today he experienced a warning in this mornings attack which caused no injuries.

I lost four people and several severely wounded while leading the US Iraq Survey Group mission in Iraq during 2004. This included a VBIED attack on my own armored car (claimed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi). Two very good men were killed.

Dr. Sellstrom will need to make a decison about the risks of conducting his mission and how much he will learn that can’t be known any other way. Knowledge can be very costly. If the team sustains casualties, will UN leaders be able to say to the surviving relatives that the mission was worth it? Horrible choices face the weapons inspectors in so many ways.

The Secretary General should not leave the decison on proceeding with the team’s mission only to the team leader. They will be inclined to go, no matter the danger. Secretary Ban needs to take responsibility for that decison as well. He is in the best position to know the value of the expected results in the context of the overall objectives.

This entry was posted in Intelligence, Iran, Syria CW, Uncategorized, WMD and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Spam protection by WP Captcha-Free