While the flip-flopping in the White House continues regarding Syria, new evidence has been leaked by whistleblowers that the report into the incident from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) concerning the weapons attack in Douma, Syria in April of 2018 was deliberately fixed by suppressing evidence an testimony that contradicted the propaganda put out in Western media concerning the event. Meanwhile, at the time, President Donald Trump unconstitutionally attacked Syria with a second missile strike, even after his own defense secretary admitted there was no evidence which should have led to the first missile strike a year earlier.
A panel has been convened that is calling the actions of the OPCW “unacceptable practices.”
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According to a press release by the Courage Foundation:
The Courage Foundation convened a panel of concerned individuals from the fields of disarmament, international law, journalism, military operations, medicine and intelligence in Brussels on October 15th. The panel met with a member of the investigation team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international chemical watchdog. On this basis the panel issued the following statement:
Based on the whistleblower’s extensive presentation, including internal emails, text exchanges and suppressed draft reports, we are unanimous in expressing our alarm over unacceptable practices in the investigation of the alleged chemical attack in Douma, near the Syrian capital of Damascus on 7 April 2018. We became convinced by the testimony that key information about chemical analyses, toxicology consultations, ballistics studies, and witness testimonies was suppressed, ostensibly to favor a preordained conclusion.
We have learned of disquieting efforts to exclude some inspectors from the investigation whilst thwarting their attempts to raise legitimate concerns, highlight irregular practices or even to express their differing observations and assessments —a right explicitly conferred on inspectors in the Chemical Weapons Convention, evidently with the intention of ensuring the independence and authoritativeness of inspection reports.
However belatedly, we therefore call on the OPCW to permit all inspectors who took part in the Douma investigation to come forward and report their differing observations in an appropriate forum of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, in fulfillment of the spirit of the Convention. They should be allowed to do this without fear of reprisal or even censure.
The panel advances these criticisms with the expectation that the OPCW will revisit its investigation of the Douma incident, with the purpose of clarifying what actually happened. This would help to restore the credibility of the OPCW and work towards demonstrating its legally mandated commitment to transparency, impartiality and independence. It is of utmost importance to restore trust in the verification procedures relied upon to implement the prohibitions of the CWC.
Alan Macleod reports:
Founded in 1997 to represent the collective position of its 193 member states, the OPCW oversees and verifies adherence to the strict rules that regulate the use of chemical weapons, which it hopes to eliminate.
After its fact-finding mission was complete, the OPCW issued a report on the alleged Douma attack. While far from conclusive or damning (it refused even to speculate on who was responsible for the attacks), it did suggest there was “likely” a chlorine attack carried out by dropping gas canisters from the air. This seems to contradict its interim findings that stated, “No organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected, either in the environmental samples or in plasma samples from the alleged casualties.” Nevertheless, some insinuated that the new report implicated government forces, the only groups likely to possess both the chemicals and the helicopters necessary to carry out such an attack.
But others criticized the findings. Piers Robinson, Co-Director for the Organization for Propaganda Studies and formerly Chair in Politics, Society and Political Journalism at Sheffield University claimed the OPCW report contained “significant anomalies” and was “unpersuasive, to put it mildly”, noting contradictions on analysis of chemicals used, the method of delivery, and more.
Robinson’s fears appear to have been confirmed and on October 15 an OPCW whistleblower met in secret with a panel of international experts, including the first Director-General of the organization, Dr. Jose Bustani. After seeing the evidence provided by the whistleblower, the panel came to the conclusion that the OPCW had suppressed and distorted its data, analysis and conclusions, noting that “key information” about chemical analysis, toxicology, ballistics investigations and witness statements were suppressed, “ostensibly to favor a preordained conclusion.” The panel also expressed alarm at efforts to exclude certain inspectors from the investigation or from allowing them to express differing opinions and observations. Dissenting assessments that concluded that the gas canisters were probably placed in Douma, rather than dropped from aircraft – suggesting an altogether different scenario to the one the U.S. government was presenting – were suppressed.
On the new evidence provided, Dr. Bustani said it, “confirmed doubts and suspicions I already had” about the incoherent report, claiming that “the picture is clearer now, although very disturbing.”
Who, if anyone, pressured the OPCW to do this? One possibility is the Trump administration, who recently awarded them a further $4.5 million for “further investigations” into Syria. This is particularly noteworthy, as the United States is infamously thrifty when it comes to paying international organizations. For decades it has refused to pay its dues to the UN, now owing billions, in retaliation for not fully complying with its wishes. It also cut funding to UNESCO in 2011 and left the organization in 2017 after it recognized Palestine– even though the U.S. is officially committed to a two-state solution in the Middle East. Many with experience in bidding for funds will know that if an organization gives you millions of dollars for research, you know what is expected of you. On the issue, Robinson said there is “certainly an element of incentivization…in order to encourage the OPCW to find and reach conclusions that are going to be compatible with what they want.”
I can think of a ton of people who would have an advantage in pressuring this deceit. Yes, many in the Trump administration would have a desire for this. On top of that, many in the international community, including the United Nations, Israel and Saudi Arabia would have an interest as well.
The real problem is that despite what we are hearing coming out of the White House, Syria is not going to simply be ignored. It will come up again… more than likely after the 2020 elections.
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