Chemical Weapons –

Thoughtful strategy? Rifle at a shot? Moral action? Gesture of diversion? The conflict Syria is such a swamp, for the United States as the other powers involved, it loses its Latin. Will allied strikes bring some clarity? Perhaps. But there are still many unanswered questions and misconceptions. Here is a first sorting.

This is not a new Iraq.

James Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, could not be clearer: it is a "one-time shot", an attack that does not call away. Very worried about the risk of skidding with Russia and Iran, Mattis had resisted for several days to a massive shipment of missiles. Trump, for his part, was more enthusiastic for a consistent strike. But we must not forget that it was he who, a few weeks ago, ordered the forthcoming departure of the 2,000 American soldiers stationed in the east and north of Syria: "I want to get out of it. The time has come, "he said, as Mattis was more reluctant, saying in November:" We're not going to just go away. "

In any case, American opinion is massively hostile to a military engagement involving boots on the ground (committed soldiers) in this region. This is even more true for Trump's highly isolated isolation base.

This is an action that makes us forget 2013 …

The famous "red line" that Obama had drawn – the ban on Assad d using chemical weapons on pain of military response – has left bad memories, especially to François Hollande. Obama, we remember, had finally chosen to give up this response. There is, therefore, in the attack of yesterday, a certain moral clarity: a country can not resort with impunity to the use of chemical weapons against civilians. This is what General Mattis said after the strike of 2017: "Some things are simply inexcusable, unacceptable and serve in the worst way not only the Geneva Convention on chemical weapons, but the civilization itself. "

This is an opinion that many share among Democrats. In a tweet Anne-Marie Slaughter, Hillary Clinton's right-hand man who would have had a good chance of being secretary of state if Clinton had been elected, said: "The use of chemical weapons brings us back to the two world wars, where they were a routine weapon of war and genocide.There MUST be a traced line, where part of the world says "that's enough", even if we draw this line with great inconstancy. "

… But it's not 2013

Before comparing favorably Trump to Obama, some clarifications are needed. First, the 2013 chemical weapons attack was the first major attack; that of April 4 follows about fifty attacks of this type, certainly of a more modest scale. Then, Barack Obama had justified his non-action by the promise of the Russians to prevent Assad from reoffending. Obviously, they did not keep this promise.

This is a temporary solution

Hailed at the time, the American strike of April 7, 2017 did not have a dissuasive effect on the Syrian regime . First, because it is impossible to strike directly at the stockpiles of chemical weapons, on pain of seriously exposing the civilian population. Secondly, because the Syrian regime will continue to want to compensate for its military weakness by using weapons of this type.

As Robert Ford, former US ambassador to Syria, explains to the "Washington Post": "If we want a lasting deterrent, it can not be an attack with no tomorrow. [Assad] will test us , and we'll have to hit again. "

It's no surprise to Russia …

Moscow has had several days to prepare for this flurry of missiles, and it is clear that precautions have been taken to avoid a direct military incident between Russians and Americans. As confirmed by Jon Huntsman, the ambassador to Moscow: "Before taking action, the United States has been in communication with the Russian Federation to reduce the risk of Russian or civilian casualties."

Has Moscow warned Assad of the choice of targets? Probably. But the objective of the American strikes was not to destroy the chemical arsenal, an impossible mission, but to "punish" Syria and issue a warning.

… but it is indeed the return of the Cold War

Impossible to understand this missile strike without placing it in a context of Russian provocations, so uninhibited that it became impossible not to answer them. The first was the attempted assassination of the double agent Sergueï Skripal and his daughter Yulia, on March 4, with a Novichok neurotoxic agent, extraordinarily dangerous. For once, Moscow had crossed a bright red line in the eyes of Westerners. Then there was the carelessness with which Moscow denied the reality of the chemical attack in Syria, going so far as to invent an extravagant fable of staging with civil actors. Insulting, for Washington and its allies.

Less than a month ago (March 20), Trump called Putin to congratulate him on his electoral victory and invite him to the White House. Since then, much water has flowed under the bridges of Moskova and Potomac, especially as the American president has just joined two muscular opponents of Russia: John Bolton, adviser to National Security, and Mike Pompeo, secretary State.

This is not the sign of a coherent strategy in Syria

Jim Mattis himself recognized after the announcement of the departure of the last American soldiers in Russia: America, in this region, has "contrary impulses", on the one hand Trump does not want to deal with this conflict, on the other he wants to force Assad to respect some minimum humanitarian standards.

With the strikes of yesterday, we are far from the point in terms of reaching this last objective. For this, says Anne-Marie Slaughter, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton, it would meet a series of conditions. First, "stand up against crimes against humanity, serious and systematic war crimes, and genocide". Then, and with other nations, "take economic, political and military action against Assad every time he violates these standards – cluster bombs, indiscriminate shelling of civilians and hospitals, famine in entire areas" and "reception of Syrian refugees". Finally, launching "targeted strikes", sparing civilians as much as possible, to indicate to Assad the limits he can not cross.

His conclusion? "This is NOT the strategy we are pursuing, we have not pursued it under Obama, and certainly not under Trump, which is why a limited strike, in response to the use of chemical weapons, is incoherent and even dangerous, in many ways. "

It is an action with dubious legality

Morally justified? Without a doubt. But the lack of a green light from the United Nations and of the US Congress sets a precedent that could prove dangerous in the future, in the hands of an autocrat like Trump. It also plunges into contradiction all those who, in France and elsewhere, had condemned the American intervention in Iraq in 2003 in the name, precisely, of non-compliance with international law.

In the United States, the lack of authorization of strikes by the Congress has attracted criticism, including in the Republican camp. "While it is true that Bashar al-Assad must be held accountable for his illegal use of chemical weapons against civilians, the strikes are conducted without congressional authorization, which is unacceptable," said Bob Casey, Pennsylvania Democratic Senator. .

"I did not read the Constitution of France or Great Britain, but I read ours and it does not give the President anywhere the authority to hit Syria", adds Thomas Massie, a republican congressman of Kentucky.

It is not a diversion action

The American missiles had not yet exploded that already, the theories of the conspiracy were given to heart joy. The most popular: it is a diversionary operation, intended to make forget the concerns of Trump with the special prosecutor Robert Mueller and the search carried out at his lawyer, Michael Cohen. Variation (or complement) of this: Trump wants to forget his acquaintance with Moscow by playing the blow against the Russians.

Absurd. Trump has no interest in diversion, each passing day allows Mueller to progress in his investigation, and the floor of Manhattan to advance in the examination of documents and computers seized at Cohen. These two perspectives terrify Trump, and one can even speculate that the Syrian affair has hindered Trump in this area, delaying decisions that may well come soon.

Chemical attack in Syria: Trump announces impending decisions




on 09.04.2018 at 18h10

The US President promised Monday to make decisions in the "24/48 hours" after the alleged chemical attack in the Syrian city of Duma, denouncing a "heinous act against innocents."

 Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump, April 3, 2018 at the White House in Washington DC

AFP – Olivier Douliery

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US President Donald Trump, April 3, 2018 at the White House, Washington.


Czech Republic: Six killed in explosion at chemical plant of Unipetrol group

Six people were killed and two others wounded in an explosion that occurred Thursday morning in a Czech chemical plant in the Kralupy-nad-Vltavou refinery (30 km north of Prague), firefighters and services announced.

"Six bodies were found on the spot, there were also two wounded," the spokesman of the Central Bohemian fire department, Vladimira Kerekova, told AFP.

"An explosion that was not followed by a fire occurred in one of the reservoirs of the Kralupy-nad-Vltavou refinery" of the Czech Unipetrol group, its spokesman Pavel Kaidl announced on twitter. [19659002"Atthismomentthesituationisundercontrolthereisnomoredanger"headded

The first information had located the explosion in a factory belonging to the Polish group Synthos

"Concerning an event that occurred on March 22, 2018 in the industrial zone in Kralupy-nad-Vltavou, Synthos SA declares that this event did not take place on the lands belonging to the company Synthos Kralupy ", said the Polish company in a statement.

This explosion represents the most serious accident by the number of deaths occurred in a factory in the Czech Republic since the independence of the country in 1993.

 Explosion (AFP - Vincent LEFAI)

Explosion (AFP – Vincent LEFAI)

The explosion occurred according to Mrs. Kerekova during cleaning work in a tank.

"The explosion was not followed by a fire," she confirmed.

"The health of the inhabitants of Kralupy-nad-Vltavou is not threatened". side said Ales Levy, spokesman for the town hall of cett Industrial city of some 19,000 inhabitants.

Initial reports indicate a large number of casualties, pushing the Prague-Vinohrady hospital, one of whose departments specializes in the treatment of burns, to trigger a emergency plan.

One of the two wounded, transported to this hospital, suffered "devastating injuries to the face" while the other suffered burns on 10% of the body, according to the spokesman of the services Emergency, Petra Effenbergerova.

Upon the announcement of the explosion, "we immediately launched an investigation to establish all the circumstances and causes", for its part said the spokesman of the police Marketa Johnova.

Police received information about the blast around 10 am local time (0900 GMT), she said.

Micro-RNA, a serious alternative to chemical fertilizers and pesticides

NATURAL. What we thought was useless could still serve and even have an extremely positive role. It is the discovery made by the Laboratory of research in plant sciences (LRSV, mixed unit CNRS / University of Toulouse) on the role of microRNAs published in Nature in 2015 . This scientific breakthrough is now leading to the development of a start-up that is of interest to two venture capital companies. Which have just contributed 4 million euros to develop the fertilizers and pesticides of the future.

Present in the cells of most living beings, the microRNAs produce, at least among the plant s, natural peptides that can temporarily regulate the expression of genes of interest that can act for example on germination, flowering, fruiting, but also on the defenses against attacks of pathogens. " MicroRNAs are natural tools that cells use to regulate the quantity of certain particularly important messenger RNAs, and thus through them the expression of most of the key genes for plant development ", explains Thomas Laurent, general manager of Micropep .

An additional supply of peptides improves the performance of the plant

NUCLEOTIDES. In all plants, the genesis of a microRNA begins with a maturation phase during which a long sequence ranging from 300 to 3000 nucleotides is cut to obtain a small sequence of only 21 nucleotides: a microRNA. mature". It is this mature microRNA that then makes it possible to regulate the expression of the gene that corresponds to it. Until now, it was thought that apart from the mature microRNA, the rest of the long initial sequence was useless. However, the LRSV team has detected peptides (small proteins) it calls "miPEP". It then demonstrates that an additional supply of these peptides makes it possible to increase the amount of the corresponding microRNA, and consequently to temporarily influence the genes controlled by this microRNA.

Jean-Philippe Combier, co-discoverer of the miPEP. © La dépêche du midi

This fundamental discovery is rapidly supported and protected by the Society for Acceleration and Transfer of Technology (SATT) of Toulouse, which invests nearly 500,000 euros in patents and proofs of concepts between 2013 and 2015. The potential of the discovery is indeed immense: the plants possess between 200 and 1000 microRNAs which are all directly or indirectly involved in the major metabolic functions of plants, such as growth or their capacity of resistance. In another article Toulouse researchers show for example that an additional supply of miPEP172 (targeting microRNA # 172) accelerates the nodulation of soybean, a beneficial symbiosis between the roots of the plant and plants. bacteria allowing this legume to better utilize nitrogen from the air to grow. Similar evidence of efficacy has been made for mycorrhizal symbiosis, another beneficial association between fungi and roots that facilitates plant uptake of soil organic matter. By targeting the right microRNAs, the miPEPs could thus be used to significantly improve the plants' natural abilities.

A new generation of environmentally friendly organic inputs

REVOLUTION. The idea becomes obvious: to develop a new generation of biological inputs from these miPEPs to reduce the use of chemicals traditionally used in agriculture . It became the goal of Micropep Technologie, the company created in April 2016 by Thomas Laurent and the two main researchers behind the discovery, Jean-Philippe Combier and Dominique Lauressergues, with the help of SATT Toulouse Tech Transfer. " This is a breakthrough technology that could really revolutionize plant biology and agriculture says Thomas Laurent. miPEPs are molecules of natural origin, easily degradable in environment, extremely specific, and with a unique and extremely precise mode of action: the temporary regulation of genes via microRNAs.We are thus at the crossroads between plant genetics, which is generally at the heart of the selection work of seeds, and that of biological inputs aimed at significantly reducing the use of pesticides in agrochemicals.And although we speak of genetics, we do not touch the DNA of plants ". [19659002] If the fundraising of Tuesday, March 6 has been necessary, it is because the development work is still important and we will have to invest a lot more and hire researchers. First work: to continue to identify new peptides by associating for each cultivated plant the peptides and the genes that they influence. It is therefore a "library" of molecules that must be patiently built. Then we will have to work on the development of formulated products that can be easily used by farmers. The production of the peptides can be carried out either synthetically by imitation of the molecule or by biological means by inducing its manufacture by bacteria. The venture capital companies have not been mistaken: 4 million euros will not be too much, but the game is worth the candle.

US Secretary of State Considers Russia Responsible for Chemical Attacks

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Saturday he still claims that Russia is taking responsibility for recent chemical weapons attacks in Syria, although strongly denounced by Moscow.

"This is a chemical use that unacceptable, in violation of all conventions which Russia itself has signed. This violates the agreement Russia receives to be responsible for identifying and eliminating chemical weapons within the Syrian territory, "Tillerson said during a visit in Warsaw.

" The chemical weapons are clearly there, the weapon is being used against civilians and the most vulnerable are children in the Syrian territory, "Tillerson told reporters at a joint press conference with Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz.

" So we consider Russia to be responsible for tackling this. They are allies of Syrian President Assad. They are members of the convention and they have promised. They need to fulfill their promises, "said the secretary of state.

Tillerson first made the allegations last Tuesday when diplomats from 29 countries met in Paris to encourage the imposition of sanctions and criminal charges against the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks Syria.

Russia and China have hampered Western-backed efforts at the United Nations to impose sanctions on Damascus over the use of chemical weapons.

On Wednesday Russia denounced Tillerson for "accusing too quickly Syria – as they call the 'top regime' chemical attack in East Ghouta, "and added" now they are trying to drag Russia also into this charge. "

Damascus has been repeatedly accused of using chemical weapons, and the United Nations is among those accusing Syrian government forces of gas attacks sarin in April of 2017 against the opposition-ridden Khan Sheikhun village that killed many person. [gp]