The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has begun responding to queries by the press about a leaked document which contradicts official OPCW findings on an alleged chemical weapons attack last year in Douma, Syria. The prepared statement they’ve been using in response to these queries confirms the authenticity of the document.
To recap, a few days ago the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (WGSPM) published a document signed by a man named Ian Henderson, whose name is seen listed in expert leadership positions on OPCW documents from as far back as 1998 and as recently as 2018. It’s unknown who leaked the document and what other media organizations they may have tried to send it to.
The report picks apart the extremely shaky physics and narratives of the official OPCW analysis on the gas cylinders allegedly dropped from Syrian government aircraft in the Douma attack, and concludes that “The dimensions, characteristics and appearance of the cylinders, and the surrounding scene of the incidents, were inconsistent with what would have been expected in the case of either cylinder being delivered from an aircraft,” saying instead that manual placement of the cylinders in the locations investigators found them in is “the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene.”
To be clear, this means that according to the assessment signed by an OPCW-trained expert, the cylinders alleged to have dispensed poison gas which killed dozens of people in Douma did not arrive in the locations that they were alleged to have arrived at via aircraft dropped by the Syrian government, but via manual placement by people on the ground, where photographs were then taken and circulated around the world as evidence against the Syrian government which was used to justify air strikes by the US, UK and France. There were swift military consequences meted out on what appears now to be a lie. At the time, the people on the ground were the Al Qaeda-linked Jaysh Al-Islam, who had at that point nothing to lose and everything to gain by staging a false flag attack in a last-ditch attempt to get NATO powers to function as their air force, since they’d already effectively lost the battle against the Syrian government.
Here is the text of the statement in full; the portion I’m drawing attention to is in the second-to-last paragraph:
The OPCW establishes facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic through the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), which was set up in 2014.
The OPCW Technical Secretariat reaffirms that the FFM complies with established methodologies and practices to ensure the integrity of its findings. The FFM takes into account all available, relevant, and reliable information and analysis within the scope of its mandate to determine its findings.
Per standard practice, the FFM draws expertise from different divisions across the Technical Secretariat as needed. All information was taken into account, deliberated, and weighed when formulating the final report regarding the incident in Douma, Syrian Arab Republic, on 7 April 2018. On 1 March 2019, the OPCW issued its final report on this incident, signed by the Director-General.
Per OPCW rules and regulations, and in order to ensure the privacy, safety, and security of personnel, the OPCW does not provide information about individual staff members of the Technical Secretariat
Pursuant to its established policies and practices, the OPCW Technical Secretariat is conducting an internal investigation about the unauthorised release of the document in question.
At this time, there is no further public information on this matter and the OPCW is unable to accommodate requests for interviews.
This should be a major news headline all around the world, but of course it is not. As of this writing the mass media have remained deathly silent about the document despite its enormous relevance to an international headline story last year which occupied many days of air time. It not only debunks a major news story that had military consequences, it casts doubt on a most esteemed international independent investigative body and undermines the fundamental assumptions behind many years of western reporting in the area. People get lazy about letting the media tell them what’s important and they assume if it’s not in the news, it’s not a big deal. This is a big deal, this is a major story and it is going unreported, which makes the media’s silence a part of the story as well.
Also conspicuously absent from discussion has been the war propaganda firm Bellingcat, which is usually the first to put the most establishment-friendly spin possible on any development in this area. If Eliot Higgins can’t even work out how to polish this turd, you know it’s a steamer.
As near as I can tell the kindest possible interpretation of these revelations is that an expert who has worked with the OPCW for decades gave an engineering assessment which directly contradicted the official findings of the OPCW on Douma, but OPCW officials didn’t find his assessment convincing for whatever reason and hid every trace of it from public view. That’s the least sinister possibility: that a sharp dissent from a distinguished expert within the OPCW’s own investigation was completely hidden from the public because the people calling the shots at the OPCW didn’t want to confuse us with a perspective they didn’t find credible. This most charitable interpretation possible is damningly unacceptable by itself, because the public should obviously be kept informed of any possible evidence which may contradict the reasons they were fed to justify an act of war by powerful governments.
And there are many far less charitable interpretations. It is not in the slightest bit unreasonable to speculate that the ostensibly independent OPCW in fact serves the interests of the US-centralized power alliance, and that it suppressed the Henderson report because it pokes holes in the narratives that are used to demonize a longtime target for imperialist regime change. That is a perfectly reasonable possibility for us to wonder about, and the onus is now on the OPCW to prove to us that it is not the case.
Either way, the fact that the OPCW kept Henderson’s findings from receiving not a whisper of attention severely undermines the organization’s credibility, not just with regard to Douma but with regard to everything, including the establishment Syria narrative as a whole and the Skripal case in the UK. Everything the OPCW has ever concluded about alleged chemical usage around the world is now subject to very legitimate skepticism.
“The leaked OPCW engineers’ assessment is confirmed as genuine, which means the final report actively concealed evidence that the Douma chemical attack was staged by jihadists and the White Helmets,” tweeted British journalist Jonathan Cook. “The OPCW’s other Syria reports must now be treated as worthless too.”
“This article doesn’t really express just how damning the report actually is,” the user said. “It’s much more than just on balance their observations are inconsistent with the cylinders being dropped from aircraft. Just about everything about the official narrative is shown to be plain impossible, from the angles of the broken rebar in the roof, through the damage to the gas cylinders, to the pile of fins on the balcony that couldn’t have been attached to the cylinder, and more. There’s simply no way they were dropped from helicopters.”
I strongly encourage readers to check out the 15-page document for themselves to understand its claims and make up their own minds, and then sit a bit to really digest the possible implications. We may have just discovered a major piece of the puzzle explaining how seemingly independent international organizations help deceive us into consenting to wars and regime change interventionism around the world.
The narrative that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is a monster who gasses his own people has been used to justify western interventionism in that nation which has included arming actual terrorist groups, enabling them to leave a trail of blood and chaos across Syria, as well as an illegal occupation of Syrian land and sanctions against the Syrian economy. This narrative is being used currently to maintain support for continuing to uphold the crippling sanctions that are making life hell for the average Syrian, today. This is not in the past, this is happening now, and there is no telling when these siege efforts towards regime change will be ramped up further into more overt forms of military action. The violence, displacement and economic hardship that is being inflicted upon the Syrian people by this interventionism is causing incalculably immense suffering, and it is all made possible by false narratives sold to the public.
Remember, they wouldn’t work so hard to manufacture your consent if they didn’t require that consent. So don’t give it to them. The first step to ending the suffering caused by western interventionism is to help free public consciousness from the incredibly complex and well-oiled propaganda machine which manufactures the consent of the governed for unconscionable acts of violence and devastation. Wake people up to what’s going on so we can all cease consenting.
Caitlin Johnstone, May 18, 2019 medium.com
International Crisis Group, last updated: May 20, 2019
(Lobelog) A series of escalations in both word and deed have raised fears of U.S.-Iranian military confrontation, either direct or by proxy. It is urgent that cooler heads prevail – in European capitals as in Tehran and Washington – to head off the threat of a disastrous war.
On 12 May, four oil tankers off the coast of Fujaira, a port in the United Arab Emirates on the Gulf of Oman, were hit by apparent sabotage. Two days later, drones attacked two oil pumping stations along the East-West pipeline in Saudi Arabia between the capital Riyadh and the port city of Yanbu. These two separate events may or may not be linked, may or may not involve Iran, and may or may not provoke a response. But, coming against a backdrop of significant escalation between Washington and Tehran, they represent ominous warning signs.
In the past few weeks, the Trump administration has doubled down on its efforts to strangle Iran’s economy. Not content with having unilaterally withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear deal, it is now pushing to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero. It has designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organisation. It has also started to flex its military muscle by deploying warships, bomber jets and missile defence batteries to the Middle East to counter unspecified “Iranian threats”.
Tehran has not remained passive. It has labelled U.S. forces in the region as terrorists; downgraded its compliance with the nuclear deal, warning of further steps unless the deal’s remaining parties deliver tangible economic benefits; threatened to shut the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint for the global oil and gas trade; and pledged to retaliate against any attack upon its assets or interests. Without offering proof, U.S. officials claim that Iran has also given licence to its regional proxies to target U.S. interests, suggesting that such an attack could occur in Iraq or one of the Gulf monarchies allied to Washington. In a worrying move, on 15 May it ordered the departure of non-essential U.S. personnel from Iraq.
Escalation comes easily; de-escalation is a much taller order, especially in the absence of direct channels of communication that can pre-empt misunderstandings or miscalculations.
All this ratcheting-up of tension was entirely predictable, and most of it is entirely provoked by the U.S. With Iran having increasingly less to lose as a result of U.S. sanctions, which are eating away at its already weak economy, it was virtually bound to become less risk-averse in the nuclear realm and more aggressive in the region. For months now, the more hardline elements of the Islamic Republic have been urging the leadership to impose a cost on the U.S. in order to deter it from stepping up sanctions and to show that, if the U.S. could hurt Iran, so too could Tehran wound Washington.
Perhaps these actions are a prelude to negotiations: the U.S. is exerting “maximum pressure”, it says, to bring a more compliant Iran back to the table; in like manner, should Tehran conclude that it has no choice but to reach a new deal with Washington in order to relieve unsustainable economic strain, it will want to enter such talks with a stronger hand. Resuming its nuclear activities, making its presence felt in the region, and disrupting Saudi or Emirati oil exports could all be ways of enhancing its bargaining power. But if these manoeuvres are a diplomatic game, it is a dangerous one: either side could misinterpret the other’s intentions. Any Iranian move could easily lead to U.S. and/or Israeli strikes which, in turn, could lead to an Iranian counter-response. Or vice versa. Escalation comes easily; de-escalation is a much taller order, especially in the absence of direct channels of communication that can pre-empt misunderstandings or miscalculations.
In short, whether or not Tehran was directly or indirectly behind the recent attacks (the Huthis in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attacks in Saudi Arabia; the earlier offshore incident has gone unclaimed; Iran has denied any connection to the incidents and called for an investigation), and whether or not Washington is manufacturing accusations to justify a spike in military activity, all the ingredients for an escalation are present. Even assuming that neither side seeks war, growing friction at all the flashpoints between the two sides (see our Trigger List early-warning platform) mean that intentions may not suffice to prevent it. The consequences could be calamitous for states and peoples in the immediate region, but also for the international economy, given its high dependence on the free flow of oil from the Gulf.
It is not too late to avert this outcome. Key to de-escalation will be the ability of the remaining parties to the nuclear deal to give Iran an economic reprieve. In particular, Europe could shed its reluctance to indirectly import Iranian oil in partnership with Russia and China. If Russia swaps oil with Iran and China continues to import Iranian crude, the transactions would generate credit that the parties could inject into Europe’s special purpose financial vehicle (Instex), allowing Iran to engage in trade with these countries without access to the U.S.- dominated global financial system. These countries could also provide Iran with development aid to repair and renew its infrastructure. With Europe demonstrating willingness to go the extra mile, Iran should reciprocate by returning into full compliance with the nuclear deal. It also should exhibit restraint on the regional front and refrain from steps – direct or taken through partners – that could provoke its foes.
As for President Donald Trump, he faces a choice. Everything about his 2016 presidential campaign pointed in the direction of avoiding another costly and unnecessary military entanglement in the Middle East. So, too, does much about the vows he has made to his constituency since entering office. But everything about his administration’s policy toward Iran points in a strikingly different direction: toward war, by design or mistake. He says he wants the U.S. and Iran to talk. Yet he should know that the Islamic Republic will not start a dialogue if it feels it has a gun to its head; it will respond to perceived aggression in like manner, and that response could in turn engender an uncontrollable downward spiral. A back-channel dialogue eventually may be possible, but for that the U.S. ought to tone down its rhetoric and offer the Iranian leadership an off-ramp, for example by signalling its preparedness to put aside its maximalist demands and to find a mutually acceptable compromise.
President Trump might think that time is on his side, as sanctions continue to take their toll on the Iranian economy. But the wait-and-see period may have reached the end of its natural life. A crisis that he may not want but that some of his advisers may not mind lies just around the corner. It is past time for cooler heads to prevail and for all to move decisively to take the trains off collision course.
Reprinted by Lobelog with permission from International Crisis Group.
(Lobelog, Jim Lobe, May 7, 2019) This is the cartoon that the international edition of the New York Times should have run, at least as regards U.S. policy toward Iran.
Since Trump took power in January, 2016, LobeLog has repeatedly featured posts (most recently yesterday’s by Paul Pillar, “Bolton’s War”) by serious foreign-policy and regional experts warning of the possibility – and now increased likelihood – of a military conflict with Iran, despite Trump’s own apparent aversion to the idea of U.S. forces becoming engaged in yet another war in the Greater Middle East.
Once the team of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo was appointed nearly 14 months ago, and particularly since the departure of Pentagon Secretary James Mattis at the end of last year, it was abundantly clear that not only was Washington going to withdraw from and sabotage to the degree that it could the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), but that those governments that have made no secret of their desire to see U.S. military intervention against Tehran would feel greatly encouraged. They include, of course, Saudi Arabia (led by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, or MBS), the United Arab Emirates (UAE) led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, or MBZ) and Israel (led by Binyamin Netanyahu). (Bahrain, of course, would also be included in the coalition, but there are only so many leashes that Trump can handle.) That all of these countries have, with Washington’s strong support, been pursuing closer intelligence and even military cooperation as a de facto anti-Iran axis is also not a secret.
Of course, there are also U.S. domestic constituencies that support military confrontation with Iran, most notably the membership of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) of whom Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, the biggest individual donors to the GOP in the 2018 election cycle and to the Trump campaign in 2016, are perhaps the most famous or infamous. Bolton probably owes his job to the Adelsons who had long promoted him for a top foreign-policy position once they moved to support Trump’s presidential candidacy in the spring of 2016. Most Protestant evangelical leaders, whose devotion to Israel derives from a peculiar British 16th-century interpretation of the Book of Revelations, and who are thus ardent Zionists for theological reasons, have also consistently supported Netanyahu’s belligerence and threats against Iran. Pompeo, who has worn his Christian evangelical faith on his sleeve with, among other things, his occasional references to The Rapture, clearly identifies with that camp which constitutes a core Trumpist constituency. But, as with Bahrain, they were omitted from the cartoon for mainly aesthetic reasons.
The artist who drew the cartoon is Jonah Lobe, and this is his Twitter handle.
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Hawaii‘s 2nd district|
|Assumed office January 3, 2013|
|Preceded by||Mazie Hirono|
|Member of the Honolulu City Council from the 6th district|
|In office January 2, 2011 – August 16, 2012|
|Preceded by||Rod Tam|
|Succeeded by||Carol Fukunaga|
|Member of the Hawaii House of Representatives from the 42nd district|
|In office 2002–2004|
|Preceded by||Mark Moses|
|Succeeded by||Rida Cabanilla|
|Born||April 12, 1981
Leloaloa, American Samoa, U.S.
(m. 2002; div. 2006)
Abraham Williams (m. 2015)
|Relatives||Mike Gabbard (Father)|
|Education||Hawaii Pacific University(BSBA)|
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||2003–present|
|Unit||Hawaii Army National Guard|
|Awards||Meritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Army Achievement Medal
De « Amerikaanse Factie » binnen de instellingen
Het Europees Parlement heeft zojuist [12 maart 2019] een resolutie aangenomen die vereist dat de Unie ophoudt Rusland te beschouwen als een strategische partner, maar eerder als een vijand van de mensheid. Tegelijkertijd stuurde de Commissie een waarschuwing over de Chinese dreiging. Alles ontvouwt zich alsof de Verenigde Staten de Unie ertoe aanzet om een rol te spelen in hun eigen suprematistische strategie.
Rusland kan niet langer worden beschouwd als een strategische partner en de Europese Unie moet klaar zijn om verdere sancties op te leggen als het het internationaal recht blijft schenden». Dit is de resolutie die door het Europees Parlement is goedgekeurd op 12 maart met 402 stemmen voor, 163 tegen, en 89 onthoudingen. De resolutie, gepresenteerd door de Letse parlementariër Sandra Kalniete, ontkent vooral elke legitimiteit voor de presidentsverkiezingen in Rusland en kwalificeert hen als “niet-democratisch”, en daarom presenteert president Poetin zich als een veroveraar.
Ze beschuldigt Rusland niet alleen van “schending van de territoriale integriteit van Oekraïne en Georgië”, maar ook van de “interventie in Syrië en inmenging in landen zoals Libië” en, in Europa, van “bemoeienissen die bedoeld zijn om verkiezingen te beïnvloeden en spanningen te vergroten” . Ze beschuldigt Rusland van “schending van de wapenbeheersingsovereenkomsten” en sluit het af met de verantwoordelijkheid het INF-verdrag te hebben begraven. Daarnaast beschuldigt zij Rusland van «belangrijke schendingen van de mensenrechten in Rusland, inclusief marteling en buitengerechtelijke executies», en «moorden gepleegd door Russische inlichtingen agenten door middel van chemische wapens op Europese bodem».
Na deze en andere beschuldigingen verklaarde het Europees Parlement dat Nord Stream 2 – de gaspijpleiding die is ontworpen om het aanbod van Russisch gas aan Duitsland over de Oostzee te verdubbelen – «de Europese afhankelijkheid van Russisch gas vergroot, de Europese binnenmarkt en zijn strategische belangen bedreigt […] en moet daarom worden beëindigd ».
De resolutie van het Europees Parlement is een getrouwe herhaling, niet alleen wat betreft de inhoud, maar zelfs in de formulering ervan, van de beschuldigingen die de VS en de NAVO richten op Rusland, en wat nog belangrijker is, het parroteert trouw hun eis om Nord Stream 2 – het object van de strategie van Washington, gericht op het verminderen van het aanbod van Russische energie aan de Europese Unie, om ze te vervangen door voorraden uit de Verenigde Staten, of althans van Amerikaanse bedrijven. In dezelfde context werden bepaalde mededelingen gedaan door de Europese Commissie gericht aan haar leden, waaronder Italië, die de intentie hadden om toe te treden tot het Chinese initiatief van de Nieuwe Zijderoute. De Commissie beweert dat China een partner is, maar ook een economische concurrent en, wat van kapitaal belang is, «een systemische rivaal die alternatieve vormen van bestuur promoot», met andere woorden alternatieve bestuursmodellen die tot nu toe werden gedomineerd door de westerse mogendheden.
De Commissie waarschuwt dat het vooral noodzakelijk is om “de kritieke digitale infrastructuren te beschermen tegen mogelijk ernstige bedreigingen van de veiligheid” van de 5G-netwerken die worden aangeboden door Chinese bedrijven zoals Huawei, en die door de Verenigde Staten zijn verboden. De Europese Commissie weerspiegelt getrouw de Amerikaanse waarschuwing aan haar bondgenoten. De opperbevelhebber van de geallieerden in Europa, de Amerikaanse generaal Scaparrotti, heeft aangegeven dat deze ultrasnelle mobiele netwerken van de vijfde generatie een steeds belangrijkere rol zullen spelen in de strijdkrachtige capaciteiten van de NAVO – bijgevolg zal geen “amateurisme” door de geallieerden worden toegestaan.
Dit alles bevestigt de invloed van de “Amerikaanse Factie”, een krachtig transversaal kamp dat het politieke beleid van de EU langs de strategische lijnen van de VS en de NAVO oriënteert.
Door het valse beeld van een gevaarlijk Rusland en China te creëren, bereiden de instellingen van de Europese Unie de publieke opinie voor om te accepteren wat de Verenigde Staten zich nu voorbereiden op de ’verdediging’ van Europa. De Verenigde Staten – verklaarde een woordvoerder van het Pentagon op CNN – maken zich op om grondgebaseerde ballistische raketten te testen (verboden door het INF-verdrag begraven door Washington), dat wil zeggen nieuwe Euroraketten die Europa opnieuw de basis zullen maken en tegelijkertijd tijd, het doelwit van een nucleaire oorlog.
Auteur: Manilo Dinucci, Voltaire Netwerk, 24 maart 2019. Vertaling: Martien van den Hurk. Bron Il Manifesto (Italië)