Report: OPCW Leaks Show US Cover-Up of Illegal Syria Bombing

Report: OPCW Leaks Show US Cover-Up of Illegal Syria Bombing

By Staff, Agencies

Leaked documents from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] show that the administration of US President Donald Trump bombed Syria in 2018 on false grounds and pressured officials at the chemical weapons watchdog to cover it up, an American weekly magazine reports.

Analyzing the leaks, The Nation reported on Friday that the OPCW had manipulated the original report on the alleged chemical attack in the city of Douma near the capital Damascus on April 7, 2018.

The US and its allies were quick to blame the incident on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Damascus, however, said that no chemical attack happened and that the incident was staged by foreign intelligence agencies to pressure the government in the face of army advances against foreign-backed terrorists.

One week after the Douma incident, the US, Britain and France launched a coordinated missile attack against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs with the purported goal of paralyzing the Syrian government’s capability to produce chemicals.

In March 2019, the OPCW concluded in its final report that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that a chemical weapons attack occurred in Douma and that “the toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.”

But, subsequent internal OPCW documents, including a trove published by WikiLeaks, revealed that the Douma investigators’ initial report had reached different conclusions from their organization’s published version.

According to the report, the leaks reveal that senior OPCW officials “reedited” the Douma investigators’ original report, “removed or misrepresented” key facts and rewrote conclusions in a bid to support the allegation that a chlorine gas attack had occurred in Douma.

“Yet the team’s initial report did not conclude that a chemical attack occurred, and left open the possibility that victims were killed in a ‘non-chemical related’ incident,” it added.

The report also referred to a toxicology review which found that observed symptoms of the civilians in Douma, particularly the rapid onset of excessive frothing, as well as the concentration of victims filmed in the apartment building so close to fresh air, “were inconsistent with exposure to chlorine, and no other obvious candidate chemical causing the symptoms could be identified.”

It further said chemical tests of the samples collected in Douma showed that chlorine compounds were, in most cases, “detected at what amounted to trace quantities in the parts-per-billion range” and that they could have resulted from “contact with household products such as bleach or come from chlorinated water or wood preservatives.”

The author of the initial POCW report protested the revisions in an e-mail, saying the altered version “misrepresents the facts,” thereby “undermining its credibility.”

After the e-mail of protest, a US government delegation met with members of the investigation team in an attempt to convince them that the Syrian government had committed a chemical attack with chlorine.

Veteran reporter Jonathan Steele said the Douma team saw the meeting as “unacceptable pressure and a violation of the OPCW’s declared principles of independence and impartiality.”

Meanwhile, the OPCW’s final report claimed that gas cylinders found in Douma likely came from Syrian military aircraft, but an unpublished engineering study found that the cylinders were manually placed.

“The OPCW leadership has yet to offer a substantive explanation for why they excluded critical findings and radically altered the original report. Instead, it has denigrated the two members of the Douma fact-finding mission team who challenged the manipulation of their investigation,” The Nation reported.

Ian Henderson and another unnamed OPCW inspector are the whistleblowers who challenged the whitewash at the chemical weapons watchdog.

OPCW Director General Fernando Arias claimed that the pair had committed “deliberate and premeditated breaches of confidentiality.”

A third OPCW official, who was speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he was “horrified” by the “abhorrent…mistreatment” of the pair.

“I fully support their endeavors,” he added. “They are in fact trying to protect the integrity of the organization which has been hijacked and brought into shameful disrepute.”

“The possibility that the United States may have bombed Syria based on falsehoods – and pressured a global investigative body to grant that intervention legitimacy after the fact –should break the media blockade. So too should the fact that it was exposed by whistleblowers who face risk for speaking out,” The Nation reported.

Former OPCW head Jose Bustani said, “The convincing evidence of irregular behavior in the OPCW investigation of the alleged Douma chemical attack confirms doubts and suspicions I already had.”

“The picture is certainly clearer now, although very disturbing,” he added, expressing hope that the outcry over the Douma leaks “will catalyze a process by which the [OPCW] can be resurrected to become the independent and non-discriminatory body it used to be.”

OPCW head falsely describes Syria whistleblower to discredit them: Greyzone

By News Desk -2020-05-07

New documents leaked from the global chemical watchdog show that two inspectors blowing the whistle about the 2018 Douma incident in Syria were right, and the director seeking to discredit them was wrong.

Two inspectors with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have challenged the organization’s final report on the April 2018 incident, which they say was altered to dismiss their findings and validate after the fact the US, UK and French missile strikes against the government in Damascus.

OPCW Director General Fernando Arias responded earlier this year by describing them as “rogue” inspectors who weren’t even members of the mission. Documents obtained by investigative journalist Aaron Mate at Greyzone, however, show that Arias’ statements were false or misleading.

Arias claimed that South African inspector Ian Henderson was “not a member” of the fact-finding mission (FFM) dispatched to Douma, and that he had played a “minor supporting role.”

However, the documents from April 2018 obtained by the Grayzone show that OPCW directors were “happy” to have Henderson lead the visits to the most important locations in Douma: the hospital and the sites of alleged chlorine cylinder impact, for instance.

Another document, described as a sensitive security-planning memorandum known as CONOPS, lists Henderson as part of the FFM under the section “Mission Personnel.”

Last, but not least, the “F038” memorandum to the Syrian government lists Henderson as “part of the team conducting the technical secretariat visits,” notifying Damascus of his role. Henderson has previously explained publicly that he was on a mission in Nepal, and was assigned to Douma immediately upon his return.

Moreover, another OPCW document shows that Henderson took over the OPCW Damascus command post on May 3, 2018 – two days after returning from Douma.

This goes directly against Arias’ version of events, according to which Henderson was already in Damascus, happened to play a minor role in the Douma mission, and then went “rogue” to sabotage the organization for reasons unknown.

Henderson and another whistleblower inspector – who remains anonymous – have said for months that they had not gone rogue, but were sidelined by OPCW because they produced evidence suggesting the Douma incident had been staged by the Army of Islam militants who controlled the area at the time.

The final OPCW report, they contend, was doctored to retroactively justify the US, UK and French missile strikes and enable them to blame Damascus.

The OPCW responded to their revelations by painting them as disgruntled employees who breached confidentiality and lacked expertise and access to all the evidence. Their own documents now clearly show those statements to be false.

Source: RT

See also

US TO GRANT $35 MILLION TO PROMOTE ITS FAKE NEWS BUBBLE IN SYRIA & CONTROL LOCAL MEDIA

Fake News Media

January 24, 2020, RT.comAlthough Western media has a shoddy track record of lying on Syria (and Libya, Iraq…), the US State Department will pump $35 million more into future war propaganda on Syria, under the guise of promoting honest reporting. 

A US State Department grant, “Support for Independent Media in Syria,” is unabashed in stating one of its main goals is “to advance U.S. Government policy objectives in Syria.”

That is probably the sole honest clause in the grant description: that it is in the end about US self-serving, hegemonic objectives in Syria.

The description goes on to claim these goals include the defeat of ISIS—although the illegal US-led coalition has attacked Syrian army positions on numerous occasions, ensuring the advance (not defeat) of ISIS in those areas. One of the most glaring instances being the September 2016 repeated attacks on the Syrian army in Deir ez-Zor province, which saw ISIS take over the region.

The US assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, recognized in the region as the man responsible for the near-defeat of ISIS, is another notable example of the US goals being to prolong, not defeat, ISIS in the region.

With their grant, the US plans to “advance human rights and promote tolerance and dialogue between ethnic and religious communities,” which is again morbidly laughable given that the US has been supporting wahhabi and other extremists whose human rights track records include caging, torturing, raping, and starving civilians, and public executions.

It wouldn’t be American policy if the State Department grant didn’t include mention of countering “Russian disinformation” and ending the presence of “Iranian forces and proxies in Syria.”

However, removing Iranian forces isn’t within America’s right to do; Syria invited Iran, Russia and other allies to actually fight terrorism in Syria, as opposed to the US-led occupation forces. And as discussed, it isn’t Russia that has the track record of disinfo on Syria, that honour goes to America and allies.

Western outlets in chorus promoted the accusations of Syria/Russia preventing food and aid into eastern Aleppo (even Reuters reported“rebels” had stockpiled aid) and Madaya and eastern Ghouta (none was true).

Western media sold the story of Russia/Syria bombing the home of Omran Daqneesh (didn’t happen), of the al-Quds hospital being “reduced to rubble” by Russian/Syrian bombing (didn’t happen), and a litany of other grotesque war propaganda stories.

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[READ: MintPress Meets The Father Of Iconic Aleppo Boy, Who Says Media Lied About His Son ]

[READ: Absurdities of Syrian war propaganda ]

Suddenly we’re meant to find credible journalists who embed with al-Qaeda and whitewash their crimes, and media which have on many occasions used photos not even in Syria to accompany sensationalist war propaganda stories. 

CNN and western media got it wrong about Omran Daqneesh, but I haven’t even seen any retractions for this lie.

And yet the US wants people to believe that the independent voices and Russian and Syrian media who actually reported factually and honestly on these and other issues…are not credible. 

The US wants people to live in a fake news bubble, where the narratives are controlled by the war mongers. And, strangely, America seemingly wants Syrians to be subjected to media that reports opposite of the reality they are living. As if after nine years of enduring Western (and Gulf) media’s lies Syrians will suddenly believe them and decide to overthrow the president they elected (and support)? America is grasping at straws…

The OPCW Truth Bombs

Western nations accuse Russia of disinformation around whether Syria used a chemical weapon in Douma, eastern Ghouta.

In April 2018, Western media pounced on and promoted the White Helmets’ lies, shedding crocodile tears over civilians allegedly exposed to a chemical agent, at the same time ignoring or mocking the testimonies of 17 Syrians from Douma (including the boy starring in the White Helmets’ hoax video). 

Turns out the body tasked to examine this accusation omitted from its final report key findings that poke massive holes in the (West’s) official narrative around Douma. Not one, but many revelations have been leaked about the critical omissions of the OPCW  report. 

The only ones taking this seriously are mainly Russia, Syria and independent researchers. In the face of these recent revelations, most Western media have largely thus far been silent.

Similarly, Western media didn’t cover the December 2018 panel detailing damning findings on the White Helmets’ association (and membership) with terrorist groups in Syria, and their involvement in staging chemical attacks and in organ harvesting…

[READ: Organ theft, staged attacks: UN panel details White Helmets’ criminal activities, media yawns ]

In the State Department’s quest for truthful reporting, one of the issues to be protected seemingly at all costs is of course the White Helmets (and the chemical hoaxes they help stage).

Anyone who has seriously researched the White Helmets, much less bothered to interview Syrian civilians about the fake rescue group, knows their footage and claims are as credible as the words of nurse Nayirah, Colin Powell, or the entries of Wikipedia.

Journalists who bothered to interview medical staff in Douma following the chemical hoax were told that doctors were treating patients with normal wartime injuries when “strangers” (including White Helmets members) entered yelling about a chemical attack, creating a panic (and demonstrating a lack of medical skills), and filming the scene with then 11 year old Hassan Diab.

[READ: Syrian civilians from ground zero expose chemical hoax ]

Diab was one of the Syrians dismissed by western media when he testified to the OPCW that he had not been subject to a chemical attack but had been used by the White Helmets. For Western media, only some children are credible (exploited)…when it suits their narrative.

One such youth, Muhammad, gained notoriety when eastern Ghouta was being liberated. Like the Aleppo child Bana before him, the Ghouta teen had an account in his name on Twitter (the dodgy logistics of which I raised in my last article) and was busy parroting the accusations.

Incidentally, Ghouta (to the silence of media which claimed concern in 2018) is rebuilding, in peace.

In any case, I get the feeling people are tired of lying Western media, chemical hoaxes and the antics of the White Helmets. I certainly see propaganda apologists getting called out on Twitter more than prior, and people are extremely skeptical of chemical weapons accusations.

As Vassily Nebenzia said of the OPCW official report on Douma: “Humpty-Dumpty, as we know, “sat on a wall, had a great fall and all the king’s horses, all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again”. I mean, that is exactly what happened to FFM report. Exactly.”

RELATED:

‘Truth is the 1st casualty of war’: Syria’s East Ghouta battleground distorted by MSM propaganda 

‘Brazen disinformation’: Syria narrative managers defend Douma chemical weapon hoax as OPCW comes under attack

Torture, starvation, executions: Eastern Ghouta civilians talk of life under terrorist rule 

MEDIA HAVE BEEN SPREADING PROPAGANDA AGAINST SYRIA FOR YEARS – JOURNALIST

Dec 31, 2019, RT America:

“Fallout continues from recent Wikileaks revelations, which confirmed that the OPCW had been pressured to alter its report to cover up evidence about the alleged April 2018 chemical attack in Douma, Syria. Investigative journalist and on-the-ground reporter Eva Bartlett joins In Question to discuss.”

*

I thank Robert Thorpe for his summary of the interview:

“Steadfast Canadian journalist Eva Karene Bartlett, who has spent months on the ground in many parts of Syria since 2014, discusses Western propaganda designed to mislead people about Syria, demonize the nation in support of Western efforts to overthrow its sovereign government, and the defacto complicity in terrorism of the US, British, Canadian and other NATO governments.

She raises the issue of the recent resignation of Newsweek journalist Tareq Haddad’s from the publication over the censorship of his coverage of recent leaked internal OPCW documents which show that the senior management of UN sponsored organization produced fraudulent reporting of the non-existent alleged gas attack (a White Helmet false flag) at Douma used to justify US, French and British missile attacks on Syria.

Related/Mentioned Links:

21st Century Wire YEAR IN REVIEW: 2019 Top Ten (Real) Conspiracies

21st Century Wire

It’s New Year’s Eve again, which means it’s time for our annual wrap-up, looking at some of the most important and unusual, and dare we say conspiratorial events of 2019. This past year was built on the back of a highly polarizing 2018, which saw the post-World War II world order coming apart at the seams, and the 20th century religions of neoliberalism and globalization being relegated to the ideological depths in the face of an evolving nationalist and mercantilist Anglo-American-dominated transatlantic order. Following on from 2018, this year saw the collapse of the seemingly sacrosanct ‘official conspiracy theory’ narratives of improbable ‘chemical attacks’ like Skripal in the UK, and Douma in Syria, both of which had profound geopolitical ramifications at the time. These are just a few stories which helped to shape the zeitgeist this past year. If 2019 taught us anything, it’s that conspiracies are real

There were a number of honorable mentions this past year which would have normally been good enough to break into the top ten in previous years, but not this time…

Honorable Mentioned Highlights – One event which would’ve normally made it into the top ten, but didn’t, was President Trump’s grand decree in October that he would be “pulling US troops out of Syria” – only this was the third time he made such an announcement in the past 24 months, and just like the previous ones, this one was another bait and switch. To compensate for leaving US forces to illegally occupy Syria’s own oil fields, Trump was able to ‘close the file’ on alleged ISIS leader Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi. We’re told that the illusive Caliph was supposedly chased-down, “whimpering and crying,” by a US military German Shepherd in a dead-end underground tunnel in Idlib. Of course, we’ll never know what actually happened because the US military proceeded to level the compound with an airstrike, thus destroying any evidence. Other official conspiracy theories of note included the untimely death of British mercenary entrepreneur, James Le Mesurier, who was founder of the controversial White Helmets ‘search and rescue’ group. After his death, ruled a likely suicide under the influence of medication (falling from his balcony while his wife was sleeping in the adjacent room) by Istanbul police, Le Mesurier’s defenders in mainstream media and intelligence agencies began blaming his death on members of public, journalists and academics who had either questioned or criticized Le Mesurier and the nature of US and UK-backed White Helmets operations alongside listed terrorist organizations in Syria. On a related geopolitical front, Iran featured heavily in what some dubbed as the Tanker Wars in 2019, which included a series of unidentified attacks on western and Gulf flagged oil tankers traveling in the Persian Gulf. Naturally, these were blamed on Iran by the US, and were followed by the British military hijacking and seizing an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar and preventing it from delivering fuel to the sanctions-hit economy of Syria. It seemed the West was testing various mechanisms to trigger a war with Iran, maybe hoping for an irrational response which never came. The US also baited the Iranians by flying in its airspace with their $150 million Globalhawk drone, which Iran shot down with their $12,000 anti-aircraft unit. Tensions remain high. 2018’s “Antisemitism in the Labour Party” canard was ramped-up and weaponized in 2019 to form part of an all-out establishment propaganda effort to reduce electoral support for Britain’s Labour Party in the run-up to the General Election. Sadly, it worked, but the political assassination of Jeremy Corbyn will go down in history as one of the darkest political acts ever, perpetrated by a shrewd coalition that included the Israeli Lobby, the Conservative Party, the Tony Blair wing of the Labour Party, and the mainstream media. Other honorable mentions for 2019 may include Brussels moving ever-closer to finalizing its new “EU Army”, aka EU Defense Union, something which Tories happily avoided talking about before the last election, possibly because they have quietly committed to opt-in to the new defense arrangement – even if there’s a Brexit. In Asia, the western press began ramping-up the human rights rhetoric in order to condemn China for its treatment of Muslim ethnic minority Uyghurs in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang, claiming China has interned millions of Uyghurs in cruel concentration camps. But the US seems to be taking a leaf from China’s authoritarian book, as Silicon Valley’s Kafkaesque political censorship and de-platforming program reach new highs in 2019, and looks set to continue in 2020 with the US elections. Twitter was also exposed as employing Saudi spies to dig up dirt on critics of the regime, as well as British spooks from Brigade 77 information warfare unit embedded at the tech firm too. Late in the year, the US also saw a bizarre mass shooting by a ‘rogue’ Saudi pilot training at the US base there, which was quietly swept under the rug by US officials. Around the same time, we saw yet another alleged ‘ISIS inspired’ terror attack on London Bridge – a quintessential Daily Shooter event if there ever was one, featuring another known wolf, on the radar of intelligence, wearing a tag, and even attending a ‘prisoner reform’ conference next door. Unfortunately the perp won’t be interrogated because he was executed on the city pavement before anyone could get to the bottom of what happened, and more importantly, why. Shades of Jean Charles de Menezes, and so many others by now.

One important thing to consider about 2019 is the slow motion break-down of all the western establishment’s official Russian conspiracy theories, all of which have featured so heavily in American and European politics since 2014. In other words, this worn-out framework has all but collapsed, but that won’t stop the usual media maven and political opportunists from still flogging that old horse.

With that in mind, here are some of the absolute blockbuster top real conspiracies of 2018…


10. Hong Kong’s ‘Democracy’ Protests – Hong Kong ends 2019 with more ‘democracy’ protests, supposedly disrupting normal festivities and shopping in China’s unique financial hub. Both US Democrats and Republicans gushed over protest leader Joshua Wong, flying him to Washington for photo-ops with Nancy Pelosi and Marco Rubio. However, it soon became known that the US government was actually directing and funding this supposed ‘grass roots uprising’ in China’s troubled territory. The US mainstream media then spun a propaganda campaign to try and paint the Chinese police in Hong Kong as ‘brutal’ and ‘repressive’, when in fact they were the opposite. Then evidence began to emerge showing extreme violence being used by the US-backed protest mobs, where Wong’s masked foot soldiers could be seen beating innocent passers-by, and even attacking elderly residents as well. ‘Pro-Democracy’ violence featured one particularly grisly attempted murder of multiple Hong Kong residents, including State Department-backed ‘freedom demonstrators’ who set a man on fire, attempting to burn him alive on the street. This push to demonize China can be viewed as part of the new US focus to disrupt and damage China’s reputation internationally as it attempts to forge ahead with its world-beating Belt and Road Initiative. Of course, the US is not taking China’s ascendancy lying down, but by the same token, fielding street thugs on the streets of Hong Kong may not net any long-term dividends, other than anger China and re-polarize the Pacific Rim. Maybe, that’s the plan.


9. Reconquista: Washington’s Take-down of South America – In 2019, Washington began turning back the clock to CIA’s golden years of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, where democratically Latin American governments were toppled one by one, and replaced by US-installed fascists and military juntas. The year started off with a bang, as the US State Department and its various operatives, over the span of three months, attempted no less than three failed coups in Venezuela. They even wheeled-out Jurassic neocon Elliot Abrams from the basement of Foggy Bottom to see if he had any of his 1980’s dark clandestine magic left in him. But the public support of the government of Nicholas Maduro was much stronger than the policy maven and spooks in Washington had anticipated. Comically, Neocons even went so far as to appoint their own President for Venezuela, a marionette named Juan Guaidó, which half of Venezuela hadn’t even heard of. A year on, the entire escapade has become a joke. Not surprisingly, a humiliated Trump Administration has quietly backed off of Venezuela, opting instead to continue sanctioning its economy, shorting its currency, stealing its foreign assets – all in all, punishing its citizens for rejecting a hostile US takeover. But Washington had better luck in Bolivia where a US-backed ultra rightwing fascist column was used in violent street protests demanding the removal of democratically elected President Evo Morales. To pull off the final move, the US had effectively bought off the country’s military and police forces who were used to depose Evo – in classic 1960’s CIA style. Evo was forced to flee his own country to Mexico, as US-backed mobs ransacked his home, and began hunting down and intimidating his political allies. That’s freedom and democracy, American style.


8. Yemeni Drones & Saudi Aramco – In September, an incredible underdog event took place. After nearly five years of a relentless war being waged against Yemen by its neighbor Saudi Arabia along with accomplices the United States, UK and the UAE – Yemen struck back, with its Houthi Resistance fighters launching a makeshift drone attack hitting two major Saudi Aramco oil installations across the border. Even though the Houthi Rebels immediately claimed responsibility for the assault on Abqaiq, the world’s largest oil processing plant, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo immediately rejected the claim, and instead the US and Saudi invented a new official conspiracy theory which blamed Iran, accusing the regional rival of having “now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.” Saudi put on an legendary TV press performance to show the world the ‘evidence’ it had of drone fragments, supposedly implicating Iran. They hoped this could raise tensions enough to justify military action against Iran. “There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” said Pompeo on Twitter. In the end, this intricate conspiracy theory spun by Washington simply fizzled out due to a lack of evidence to support their tenuous claim. As with its embarrassing failure in Venezuela, Washington just backed off quietly, and hoped no one would talk about it any more. What this incident really showed was that under-equipped, under-funded, and fully embargoed Yemen – could deliver a fatal blow inside of Saudi Arabia, and influence world energy markets by doing so. Make no mistake about it: Saudi and the US have been put on notice in Yemen.


7. Mueller and the Collapse of RussiaGate – Remember the official conspiracy theory pushed by the US establishment – that Russia somehow intervened in the 2016 US Presidential Election on behalf of Donald Trump, thus catapulting him into the White House? This past spring, the hysteria and excitement reached such a fever pitch, that Robert Mueller was canonized as the new patron saint of the Resistance movement. But it was a house of cards. Well after three long and torturous years, in an big top circus featuring 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants and staff assigned to investigate, more than 2,800 subpoenas issued by the Special Counsel Mueller’s office, some 500 search warrants executed, more than 230 orders for communication records, 50 authorized orders (lets the government know who someone is communicating with and when, but not what they said), 13 evidence requests to foreign governments, 500 witnesses interviewed, well over $30 million taxpayer costs… the much-anticipated Mueller Report and investigation found no evidence that Trump had conspired with Russia. No collusion, and no election ‘interference’ by Russia. Nothing. RussiaGate R.I.P.

It should go down in history as one of the biggest phony official conspiracy theories of all-time. During his own testimony, the vaunted former FBI director Mueller came off as an incompetent old crank. The entire affair was a disaster for Democrats and their loyal mainstream media networks, all of whom had relentlessly hyped this conspiracy for years. In the end, this epic dud can only help Trump in his 2020 re-election bid. Let that sink in for a minute…


6. UkraineGate and Trump’s Impeachment – Alas, the death of RussiaGate gave way to a brand new gate… UkraineGate, and with it came that impeachment hammer which Democrats had been promising from before Trump was even sworn in office. Suddenly, Trump was facing the most perilous threat to a tenure of POTUS since Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon and Andrew Johnson before that – all because of a telephone call on July 25th (the day after Robert Mueller tanked with his disastrous congressional testimony) with Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenksy. According to House Democrats, during the call, Trump threatened Zelensky with withholding a free donation of US weapons to Ukraine unless the Ukrainian president re-opened a corruption investigation into 2016 US election meddling under the previous President Poroshenko, and more importantly the activities former vice-president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. According to lead inquisitor Adam Schiff (CA-D), someone told someone about the call, who then told a “whistleblower” (a CIA analyst and friend of Obama and the Bidens) about it, who then then filed a complaint. In the end, Ukraine got its free stash of US missiles as ordered, but Democrats claimed Trump abused his power by asking for a “Quid Pro Quo” that somehow placed the national security of the US in grave danger, and that Trump tried to railroad a political opponent (Joe Biden is supposedly the DNC’s pre-determined selection for presidential nominee) by asking a foreign power to investigate him and his son, all of which they say rises to the level of “high crimes” by Trump. When asked, even Zelensky said there was no quid pro quo. This hardly mattered, as the verdict was already written before the hearings. Another grand official conspiracy theory cooked up by the establishment? Seems so. So shaky are Democrats about their case, that House leader Nancy Pelosi has failed to send her Articles of Impeachment before Christmas to the US Senate for the next step which is an Impeachment trial. This kicks the whole affair into the new year, and with poll numbers steadily rising against Democrat’s impeachment misadventure, it does not look good at all for Democrats heading into the 2020 election.


5. Greta – On paper, it sounded like the stuff of Hollywood: a 15-year-old Swedish student started a school strike for ‘the climate’ outside the Swedish Parliament, and her campaign went viral around the globe, and a new youth climate change movement was born. Incredible. Inspiring. Al Gore and associates were over the moon; their Joan of Arc had finally arrived to help save the planet. Time Magazine even named her “Person of the Year” in 2019. But on closer examination, the rise of Greta Thunberg was anything but grassroots. From the very first day, her campaign was driven by a multi-million dollar public relations machine that includes dozens of NGOs and media outlets, foundations and trusts, as part of an environmental astroturf extravaganza, the likes of which we’ve never seen. The practice is known as greenwashing – and in this case, Wall Street and City hedge funds, as well as a gaggle of foundations and NGOs – all hoping to capitalize on the new green bubble, and all determined to use this young child as their political battering ram to drive home an international ‘climate’ agenda. Greta gained headlines after scolding the public with her angry prose, “How dare you!” scowled the angry Swede at the infamous UN panel. “You have stolen my dreams!” railed the youngster to a room full of jovial stakeholders (while putting on an injured voice, reading off the script provided to her by a team of handlers). Their ‘climate emergency’ narrative is based on the theory that man-made CO2 is heating up the Earth’s atmosphere which will cause seas levels to rise and cause the “sixth mass extinction.” However, real data actually indicates that the Earth is heading into a cooling phase and that any changes in climate have nothing to do with man-made activity, but rather from the sun’s activity. Both sides of the debate do not appear to be budging, but the cooling camp seems to have real data in its favor, while the warmists seem to be relying heavily theory and computer-modeled climate predictions – programmed by scientists eager to show that man-made global warming is a real phenomenon. In the end, this unsuspecting child is being used by a cynical class of millionaires and billionaires, clearly stoking-up a generational culture war, with angry middle class youth demanding that western governments ‘unlock’, or rather rob trillions from existing pension funds in order to finance the bold dream of a ‘Green New Deal’ and the promise of a green utopia – they just need you to give them some $51 trillion to fund various and sundry “green tech,” which activists are convinced can lower the earth’s temperature and stave off the inevitable extinction of the human race by 2030, or maybe 2050, or is it 2100? We’re actually not sure, but we promise it’s totally real. What could possibly go wrong?


4. Epstein – As horrendous as revelations of Jimmy Saville were for western high society, the chronicles of billionaire VIP sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein were more devastating by orders of magnitude. His exploits ensnared US President Bill Clinton, and high-flying lawyer Alan Dershowitz, along with a long list of high-ranking VIPs. The fallout didn’t spare the British Royal Family either, with Prince Andrew being cast out into social oblivion for his own role in the scandal. The more the story marinated, the more seedy it became. His was a story of one locked door after another, concealing the adjoining halls of a castle dark which can only be acquired by navigating the circles of extreme wealth and influence. Many believe this was part of a high level blackmail operation designed to create leverage over top decision makers in politics and industry. There are also indications that Epstein “belonged to intelligence,” although it’s not certain which agencies he may have been supplying information to. For his own part, Epstein’s story ended abruptly after he was reportedly unconscious in a federal jail cell at New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on Saturday August 10, 2019. The death was quickly ruled a “suicide by hanging.” Somehow, the CCTV camera footage appears to have gone missing. The guards, we’re told, were not on duty. “It was a horrible series of coincidences,” so says the official conspiracy theory of the highly unlikely death of Jeff Epstein in federal custody. He was awaiting a federal trial for charges of conspiracy and sex trafficking of underage girls dating back to the early 2000s. After his death, the trial was shelved. So it goes without saying that many ‘important’ and powerful people benefited from this outcome. His main accomplice is still at large, Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the late media tycoon and Israeli super spy, Robert Maxwell. Many of the female victims are now speaking out publicly. Will there be any justice? Certainly, the mainstream media appear disinterested in pursuing the criminal segues of this story. Or will it become another grand conspiracy for the ages, alongside JFK, RFK and MLK?


3. A Global Uprising? – In 2019, we saw major uprisings and popular mobilzations on the streets in France, in the Spanish province of Catalan, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, India, Lebanon, Iraq, Haiti, Sudan, Hong Kong, as well as protests building in Netherlands, Italy, and Germany. Many of experts are scratching their heads, asking ‘what does it all mean’? Are these event interconnected, or are they being driven by the same underlying social or economic forces? Many of these events appear to be genuine grassroots events. However, others quite clearly were being co-opted and fueled by foreign powers seeking to capitalize on any succession of power that might be occurring, as was the case with protests in Hong Kong, Iraq, Russia and certainly there was evidence of this in Lebanon, although not as blatant as in other locations. Regardless, this trend is real and potentially world-changing and cannot be ignored, as billions of people (many of them younger) around the globe begin to realize that 20th century stalwarts like neoliberal vudoo economics, savage capitalism, US dollar and IMF debt-based control of the developing world, along with US-led neocolonial foreign policy and endless ‘regime change’ wars – are simply no longer going to cut it going forward. It seems that this new generation won’t settle for business as usual any more. Look out…


2. The OPCW Leaks – Never has there been such a profound story which was being categorically denied and ignored by the entire mainstream press. This past year saw a series of leaks coming out of the UN appointed watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which reveal that the alleged ‘chemical attack’ which the West and MSM said took place in Douma, Syria on April 2018 – never actually happened. Which means that the US, UK and France launched a retaliatory strike against Syria on the basis of a well-orchestrated ‘false flag’ hoax. Worst yet, there is proof the OPCW perpetrated an internal cover-up of evidence which would’ve exonerated Damascus. Consider this as Iraq WMD 2.0, because the very same fraudulent practices and heavy-handed US tactics, along with total media acquiescence to the official conspiracy theory narrative – has happened again. Like with the Integrity Initiative leaks which broke in late 2018, the OPCW leaks have been dripping out, some via WikiLeaks, and it’s been death by a thousand cuts for the US, UK and NATO establishment, who’ve been caught not only tampering with an investigation of what was meant to be a neutral international watchdog group, but have summarily closed ranks in an information blackout, even though the scandal is there for the world to see (for those willing to look). The reason for their evasive action is now clear: when the Douma ‘chemical attack’ happened, it was the mainstream media who colluded with western governments, and who relied on US and Saudi-backed terrorists Jayash al-Islam and the White Helmets – all working hand-in-hand to spin-up the West’s official narrative that somehow “Assad had gassed his own people.” And the leaks are still ongoing. Will the media and bamboozled politicians ever address this scandal, or will they play the ostrich until it’s too late? Either way, their credibility is now shot.


1. The Capture of Julian Assange – In April, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested and bundled out of his safe haven in the Ecuadorian embassy after his asylum and citizenship were suddenly revoked by the host country – very clearly part of a coordinated conspiracy waged by the governments of the US, UK, Sweden and Ecuador – to prepare Assange for extradition to the US to face espionage charges by disingenuously re-framing Assange and WikiLeaks, a journalist and a publication – now as a “cyber terrorist” and a “hostile foreign intelligence service.” His removal from the embassy by British police was an act of extraordinary rendition. Despite interventions and rulings by multiple UN representatives, determined British authorities continue to hold Assange without charge in solitary confinement, and heavily sedated (by his own admission), inside of London’s Belmarsh super max prison. The UN’s has ruled that his detention constitutes torture. He is also unable to prepare for his US extradition hearing in February – one of the most important precedent cases, maybe in history, for the future of the freedom of the press. His legal team even requested for more time to submit evidence and postpone of the extradition hearing, but the fix was already in, and the judge flatly refuse to entertain any argument or admit Assange should no longer be held on remand without charge in high security confinement. With his physical and mental health deteriorating rapidly, there is a real risk now that Assange could even die in custody. How long can the supposed guardians of freedom and democracy in the West stand idle while this incredible injustice continues to unfold? Whatever your preferred outcome, the answers to these questions may come soon in the new year. Needless to say, many are hoping that the plutocracy in Washington and London come to their senses, and realize what a historic mistake they are making – and reverse course on this unprecedented judicial disaster.. 

What a wild year. Expect more of the same in 2020.

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

SEE PREVIOUS TOP TEN CONSPIRACIES:

2018 Top Ten Conspiracies

2017 Top Ten Conspiracies

2016 Top Ten Conspiracies

2015 Top Ten Conspiracies

2014 Top Ten Conspiracies

Trump’s Syria Missile Strike Was a Scandal

December 31, 2019

Peter HITCHENS

I suspect the Third World War will begin with a claimed atrocity — probably the use of poison gas by a ‘regime’ against ‘its own people’. Such things are now the favorite way to make wars where there was peace.

Border violations went out of fashion years ago. Invasions are illegal under the UN Charter. There are no Archdukes left to assassinate. ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ will forever evoke hollow laughter. But democracy needs a popular pretext for war, and righteous mass outrage about the inhumanity of the enemy is almost invariably effective.

This is why it is rather important that the people we trust to verify such claims are honest and trustworthy. For who will verify the verifiers? Ignore this little matter and we could obliterate the world by mistake, sooner than you think.

Hence this story of one of the least-covered major scandals of the moment. Apart from Tucker Carlson on his Fox show, no journalist in the United States has even touched it yet. Things are not that much better in Europe.

It begins on April 7, 2018, when social media, quickly followed by professional news organizations, began to spread harrowing reports of mass murder by gas in the Damascus suburb of Douma. Many deaths were reported. Urgent amateur films then appeared showing the dead, horrible to behold, some of them children, many foaming at the mouth. President Trump reacted swiftly, Tweeting ‘Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia, and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!’

In fact he did not wait for that verification. Within a week, the USA had showered Syria with missiles crammed with high explosives. France and Britain swallowed any doubts they may have had and added their own small salvoes, in the usual coalition of the sycophantic.

But then the problems began. It is actually illegal to bomb sovereign countries unless you have a clear justification. And nobody really knew what had happened in Douma. There were no independent Western sources there at the time of the alleged atrocity. They would have been killed or kidnapped if they had been, by the notoriously feral jihadi militia, Jaysh al Islam, which then held the area. The journalists who wrote so confidently about it were in no cases nearer than Beirut, 85 miles away. More of them were even more distant, in Istanbul, London and New York. The sources they quoted from the scene were unnamed and uncheckable. As for the films, there was no way of knowing for sure where they had been made, or how.

It is to resolve doubts such as this that most of the nations of the world — the USA among them — pay for the impartial verification services of Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). From its toadstool-shaped headquarters in The Hague, capital of the Netherlands, the OPCW sent a small team of experts. The jihadis were gone. The area was clear. They were able to get swift access.

By late June of that year they had compiled their report. It contained no smoking gun. Rather the opposite. There was no trace at all of sarin — despite the fact that the corpses in the films showed symptoms normally associated with that cruel gas. And there was about as much chlorine there as you might find in your kitchen. It was present only in trace elements, parts per billion, and in forms so common that it could have come from household bleach.

And then the scientists discovered that they had come up with the wrong answer. Diligent fair inquiry was not wanted at all. Thanks to a courageous whistleblower, who passed on the details, I and a small number of other journalists reported this week that a disgraceful thing happened inside the OPCW. A new report had been prepared for publication. It was a travesty of what the investigators had written. Their careful, impartial work had been trashed by persons or persons unknown. Their document had been slashed and censored to remove crucial information, especially that the traces of chlorine were tiny.

There were protests. In response, a group of three unidentified US officials appeared unexpectedly at the OPCW’s high-security building. According to one scientist present, these men simply told them that the Syrian regime had conducted a gas attack. Even after this, the struggle for truth went on. Senior officials eventually promised — after much argument — to include the key information about the tiny traces of chlorine in the report that was about to be published. The promise was immediately broken.

The document that was finally issued was conveniently vague, and major news organizations rushed to decide, quite incorrectly, that it had said chlorine gas had been used. Actually, it said nothing of the sort. We have to wonder how so many agencies, broadcasters and major newspapers all reached this wrong conclusion from these few vague words ‘Various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from Locations 2 and 4’. But they did.

Now it has been established beyond doubt that the report was doctored. But most people still don’t know that, as it has barely been reported. Why is this? Is it possible that many in the media, just like many in politics, had invested so much in the original outrage that they now could not bear to find that there was, in fact, no proper evidence of the thing they had blazoned on their front pages and shouted in their bulletins? They had been furious and righteous and condemnatory. And now they were left without any proof that the thing had even happened.

We all know Hans Christian Andersen’s fable of the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’, which don’t exist, and of the little boy who cries out that the potentate is naked, and everyone in the town then joins in with the little boy. But experience in this case tells me this is all rubbish. In reality the Emperor’s secret police would have arrested the little boy and his father and told them to shut up. And of course, the imperial media would have kept quiet about the incident, providing detailed descriptions for their readers of the monarch’s sumptuous apparel. So it has been in the case of the OPCW. The whistle was blown, but hardly anyone heard it. Who is verifying the verifiers? Nobody is verifying the verifiers, who will one day take us to war — and hell — on a falsehood.

spectator.usThe views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.


OPCW Official Ordered Deletion Of ‘All Traces’ Of Dissenting Report On ‘Douma Chemical Attack’ – Wikileaks

Source

By Staff, Agencies

The leadership of the chemical weapons watchdog took efforts to remove the paper trail of a dissenting report from Douma, Syria which pointed to a possible false flag operation there, leaked documents indicate.

In an internal email published by the transparency website WikiLeaks on Friday, a senior official from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] ordered that the document be removed from the organization’s Documents Registry Archive and to “remove all traces, if any, of its delivery/storage/whatever.”

The document in question is a technical assessment written by inspector Ian Henderson after a fact-finding mission to Douma, a suburb of Damascus, in the wake of an alleged chlorine gas attack.

Western politicians and media said at the time that the government forces had dropped two gas cylinders as part of an offensive against terrorist forces, killing scores of civilians.

The OPCW inspector said evidence on the ground contradicted the airdropping scenario and that the cylinders could have been placed by hand. Considering that the area was under the control of anti-government forces, the memo lands credence to the theory that the so-called rebels had staged the scene to prompt Western nations to attack their opponents.

The final report of the watchdog all but confirmed that Damascus was behind the incident, but in the past months an increasing amount of leaked documents and whistleblower testimonies have emerged, pointing to a possible fabrication. The OPCW leadership stands accused of withholding opinions contravening the West-favored narrative and using misleading language to report what the inspectors found on the ground.

The alleged email was written by Sebastien Braha, Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW. Its authenticity is yet to be confirmed, but the organization never said any of the previously leaked documents were not real.

Another document published on Friday outlines a meeting with several toxicology experts and their opinions on whether symptoms shown and reported in alleged victims of the attack were consistent with a chlorine gas poisoning.

“The experts were conclusive in their statements that there was no correlation between symptoms and chlorine exposure,” the document said, adding that the chief expert suggested that the event could have been “a propaganda exercise.”

The Douma incident in April 2018 spurred Western governments into action, with the US, the UK and France delivering a barrage of missiles at what was dubbed chemical weapons sites in Syria days after.

Further Proof: U.S., UK, & France Committed War-Crime on 14 April 2018

December 29, 2019

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

U.S., UK, and French ‘news’-media hide the fact, but it is now incontestably a fact, that they committed an international war-crime on 14 April 2018. The OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) does everything they can to hide this fact. Therefore, starting with the latest, and then proceeding in chronological order, with the earliest and then the subsequent ones that had been issued prior to that latest one, here are the real and verified news-reports which have been published (none in the mainstream press), proving both this international war-crime, and the OPCW’s hiding of it:

https://www.rt.com/news/476965-opcw-wikileaks-leak-douma/

“Senior OPCW official ordered deletion of ‘all traces’ of dissenting report on ‘Douma chemical attack’ – WikiLeaks’ new leak”

F. 27 December 2019

The leadership of the chemical weapons watchdog [OPCW] took efforts to remove the paper trail of a dissenting report from Douma, Syria which pointed to a possible false flag operation there, leaked documents indicate.

In an internal email published by the transparency website WikiLeaks on Friday [see it here], a senior official [Chief of Cabinet] from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) ordered that the document be removed from the organization’s Documents Registry Archive and to “remove all traces, if any, of its delivery/storage/whatever.”

WikiLeaks@wikileaks

Email from the Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, demanding deletion of dissenting engineering assessment: “Please get this document out of DRA [Documents Registry Archive]… And please remove all traces, if any, of its delivery/storage/whatever in DRA”https://wikileaks.org/opcw-douma/#OPCW-DOUMA%20-%20Release%20Part%204 …

9:30 AM – Dec 27, 2019

The document in question [here ordered deleted] is a technical assessment written by [the chief] inspector Ian Henderson after a fact-finding mission [by Henderson] to Douma, a suburb of Damascus, in the wake of an alleged chlorine gas attack. Western politicians and media said at the time that the government forces had dropped two gas cylinders [on Douma] as part of an offensive against jihadist forces, killing scores of civilians.

The OPCW inspector [Henderson] said evidence on the ground contradicted the airdropping scenario [which had falsely implicated Syria’s Government as having dropped both from a plane] and that the cylinders could [and this was actually the only alternative scenario proposed] have been placed [there] by hand. Considering that the area was under the control of anti-government forces, the memo lands [RT meant “lends”] credence to the theory that the jihadists had staged the scene [in order] to prompt Western nations to attack their [the jihadists’] opponents [Syria’s Government forces, which the U.S., UK, and France, missile-attacked on 14 April 2018, in alleged retaliation for the alleged Syrian Government gas-attack].

The final report of the watchdog [the OPCW] all but confirmed that Damascus was behind the incident, but in the past months an increasing amount of leaked documents and whistleblower testimonies have emerged, pointing to [the alleged chemical-weapon event’s having been] a possible fabrication. The OPCW leadership stands accused [now is actually proven in this leaked document from the OPCW’s Chief of Cabinet] of withholding opinions [by the OPCW’s on-the-ground expert investigators] contravening the West-favored [actually its only] narrative and using misleading language to report what the inspectors [had] found on the ground.

ALSO ON RT.COM

New leaks provide further evidence that OPCW suppressed & altered findings on Douma ‘chemical attack’

https://www.rt.com/news/475926-opcw-leaks-report-syria-chemical/

15 December 2019

“A new cache of internal documents [from Wikileaks] reveal that members of the OPCW team tasked with probing the Douma “chemical attack” protested the organization’s final report on the incident, which they said misrepresented their conclusions. In a memo addressed to OPCW Director General Fernando Arias, one scientist who participated in the OPCW’s fact finding mission (FFM) wrote that there are “about 20 inspectors who have expressed concern” over how the OPCW presented its findings on the alleged Syrian chemical attack. According to the memorandum, the organization’s final report does not reflect the FFM’s findings, presented in their interim report, which is also part of the new document dump.”

The alleged [here RT.com is insinuating that Wikileaks could be releasing here a faked] email was written by Sebastien Braha, Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW. Its authenticity is yet to be confirmed, but the organization never said any of the previously leaked documents were not real. [RT.com is here alleging that Wikileaks’s publication of a document does not, in itself, constitute an official allegation by Wikileaks that the document is, in Wikileaks’s opinion, authentic — a bizarre and undocumented allegation by RT.com, asserting that Wikilweaks is untrustworthy. If RT considers Wikileaks untrustworthy, then isn’t RT obliged to provide some evidence of that?]

Another document published on Friday outlines a meeting with several toxicology experts and their opinions on whether symptoms shown and reported in alleged victims of the attack were consistent with a chlorine gas poisoning. “The experts were conclusive in their statements that there was no correlation between symptoms and chlorine exposure,” the document said, adding that the chief expert suggested that the event could have been “a propaganda exercise.” [The OPCW’s official published conclusion was that this event definitely wasn’t a sarin-gas attack but might possibly have been a chlorine gas attack. But now, Wikileaks has revealed that the OPCW’s technical experts, who had actually performed the investigation, said that it also wasn’t a chlorine gas attack, if there was, indeed, even any chemical-weapons attack there at all.]

The Douma incident in April 2018 spurred Western governments into action, with the US, the UK and France delivering a barrage of [105] missiles at what was dubbed chemical weapons sites in Syria days after [on April 14th]. This didn’t prevent the government from seizing control over the neighborhood, but put the reputations of the three governments [U.S., UK, and France] at stake. The OPCW report [now discredited by the OPCW’s own technical experts] gave credence to [i.e., alleged to have been possibly a reaction to an actual war-crime by Syria’s Government] the Western show of force. [In other words: RT here is trying to assert that the “credence to” those three Governments’ 14 April 2018 missile-attacks against Syria is in doubt — instead of having been disproven — because the OPCW’s management had trashed and rewritten their technical investigators’ reports about the on-site findings, which were that there was no evidence whatsoever that any gas-attack at all had occurred in Douma on 7 April 2018, and that if one had been done, then it hadn’t been done by Syria’s Government (i.e., by air-drop).]

ALSO ON RT.COM

‘Journalism is dying’: US govt ‘has its tentacles’ in every part of media, reporter who quit over ‘suppressed’ OPCW story warns

https://www.rt.com/news/475940-media-controlled-us-govt-newsweek/

15 December 2019

“Tareq Haddad announced his resignation from Newsweek last week, claiming that his editors had shot down his attempt to report on a leaked email which casts doubt on the OPCW’s findings regarding an alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria, in April 2018. … ‘The US government, in an ugly alliance with those [that] profit the most from war, has its tentacles in every part of the media — imposters, with ties to the US State Department, sit in newsrooms all over the world. … Inconvenient stories are completely blocked. As a result, journalism is quickly dying. America is regressing because it lacks the truth.’”

“SUPPRESSED OPCW FINDING: War-Crime Likely Perpetrated by U.S. Against Syria on 14 April 2018”

Eric Zuesse, 19 May 2019

////

UPDATE: On 4 June 2019, WashingtonsBlog headlined at Zero Hedge “Eminent American Scientist: Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack Was STAGED” and Dr. Postol presented there a detailed analysis of who and how and why at the OPCW the report from their engineering team had been hidden from the public (prior to that team’s report having become leaked to the public on 13 May 2019 — and yet still suppressed by the press, just as Dr. Postol’s June 3rd report likely also will be).

////

On May 13th, Tim Hayward of the Working Group on Syria made public on his website an utterly damning document that had been suspiciously excluded from the final investigative report by the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) regarding the U.S.-and-allied allegation that on 7 April 2018 the Syrian Government had sarin-attacked residents in its town of Douma and had killed a large number of non-combatants. Seven days after that alleged incident, the U.S. and two of its allies, UK and France, massively missile-invaded Syria on April 14th, in alleged international ‘response’ to that alleged national war-crime on the part of Syria’s Government. It now turns out that that alleged national war-crime was totally staged by America’s own proxy-soldiers, Islamic terrorists who were trying to overthrow Syria’s Government, and so the attack against Syria on 14 April 2018 by U.S., UK and France, constitutes an international war-crime, an unequivocal violation of the U.N.’s Charter.

This excluded finding by the OPCW is proof that “the US Government’s Interpretation of the Technical Intelligence It Gathered Prior to and After the August 21 Attack CANNOT POSSIBLY BE CORRECT”. That’s the way an independent detailed study by the two top U.S. experts had concluded their study of the U.N.’s evidence concerning the U.S.-and-allied allegations that there had been a 21 August 2013 sarin-attack by the Syrian Government against its town of East Ghouta. Their finding then was virtually identical regarding that U.S.-alleged sarin-use by Syria’s Government — identical to this recent OPCW finding. And that finding regarding the earlier ‘incident’ likewise was suppressed, instead of reported by the ‘news’-media. The two investigators in that earlier report, which was issued on 14 January 2014, were MIT’s Ted Postol and Richard Lloyd.

The clearest summary-report about the newer suppressed finding was “signed by Ian Henderson (an investigative team leader for the OPCW” and is best summarized by Kit Knightly’s May 14th “Leaked Report: Douma ‘Chemical Attack’ Likely Staged” at Off-Guardian.org (a terrific website of investigative journalism that exposes lies by mainstream ‘news’-media, such as Britain’s Guardian). As Knightly especially pointed out, that OPCW investigative team’s report to OPCW had concluded:

“In summary, observations at the scene of the two locations, together with subsequent analysis, suggest that there is a higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being dropped.”

As we shall later show, that statement at the end of the OPCW team’s report, was a huge understatement: they had, in fact, proven that “both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations [by the anti-Government side, as a set-up to stage the event and blame it on the Government] rather than being dropped [by a plane, from the Government, as the U.S. alleged].”

So: that’s virtually a clone of the earlier Postol-Lloyd finding regarding the 13 August 2013 incident, except that, whereas the earlier incident was real and had been carried out by America’s Syrian proxy-forces (fanatic Islamists), this more recent ‘incident’ was (as now is clear not only from the latest revelation) entirely staged by the U.S.-and-allied side. It had not existed at all.

Obviously, if that finding is confirmed by an international tribunal not for internal war-crimes but for international war-crimes, then Donald Trump, Theresa May, and Emmanuel Macron, could be sentenced to prison, or worse, but is there any tribunal anywhere that could handle such cases? Almost certainly not. Leaders, such as those, stand above any law. And isn’t that the real problem here?

On 17 May 2019, Russia’s Tass news agency headlined “Militants preparing provocation with chemical weapons in Syria” and reported that, “Militants from Jebhat al-Nusra terrorist group (banned in Russia) are preparing a provocation to accuse Russian servicemen of using chemical weapons in Syria, the Russian Center for reconciliation of the conflicting sides said on Friday [May 17th].” Jabhat al-Nusra is Syria’s branch of Al Qaeda, and U.S. President Barack Obama’s efforts to overthrow the Syrian Government depended very heavily upon that organization to train the non-Kurdish proxy-forces that the U.S. regime and its press called ‘rebels’ instead of jihadists (which they actually were). The U.S. armed and protected al-Nusra.

Back on 13 February 2018, less than two months prior to the faked 7 April 2018 Douma chemical ‘attack’, Russia’s RT had headlined “Tip-off received on Al-Nusra, White Helmets plotting chemical weapons provocation in Syria – Moscow”, and reported that:

Russia’s Center for Reconciliation in Syria says it’s been warned that Jabhat Al-Nusra terrorists brought in chlorine containers to a local village, where they aimed to work with the White Helmets to stage “a provocation.” … According to the source, on the afternoon of February 12, rebels from the Jabhat Al-Nusra (Al-Nusra Front) terrorist organization brought three cars packed with more than 20 cylinders of chlorine along with personal protective equipment to Serakab. Additionally, according to the caller, representatives of the local branch of the White Helmets, wearing individual means of protection, conducted rehearsals of “giving first aid” to “local residents” who were supposedly suffering from poisoning.”

That appears to have been an accurate description of what the OPCW investigators found in Douma after the faked 7 April 2018 incident there. However U.S.-allied press didn’t report anything of the kind, neither before nor after that faked incident. The reality was suppressed instead of reported there. The latest suppressed finding by the OPCW is a repeat of that pattern.

Further indication of how clear the evidence actually is that the 7 April 2018 Douma incident was staged has been presented by the excruciatingly detailed May 12th document from the team of Paul McKeigue, David Miller, and Piers Robinson, headlined “Assessment by the engineering sub-team of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission investigating the alleged chemical attack in Douma in April 2018”. It explains “that the cylinders were manually placed in position is ‘the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene’,” BECAUSE (and this is quoting now directly from paragraph 32 of the OPCW Engineer’s suppressed report of his team’s findings) “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. In each case the alternative hypothesis produced the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene.”

The full paragraph 32 opened by saying that “At this stage the FFM engineering sub-team cannot be certain that the cylinders at either location arrived there as a result of being dropped from an aircraft.” But when it went on to say “In each case the alternative hypothesis produced the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene,” that “alternative hypothesis” referred to the alternative to the cylinder’s “being dropped from a plane.” That “alternative hypothesis” refers to people on the ground having placed it there. That “alternative hypothesis” referred to the event’s having been staged by people on the ground. That “alternative hypothesis” referred to the U.S. side’s proxy-forces — America’s ‘Syrian rebels’) having staged this event and filmed its alleged aftermath so that the U.S.-UK-led White Helmets could then feed it to the U.S.-and-allied ’news’-media so as to enrage their publics against Syria’s Government enough for those publics to think that the subsequent U.S.-and-allied bombing of Syria, On 14 April 2018, was a ‘humanitarian’ action.

The OPCW’s Engineering team stated there, very clearly, that the U.S.-and-allied allegations that those cylinders had been dropped from a plane or planes “CANNOT POSSIBLY BE CORRECT,” as Postol and Lloyd had previously said about the U.S.-and-allied alleged Syrian Government 21 August 2013 sarin gas attack against East Ghouta. This is a tactful way of saying that the U.S. and its allied regimes had lied about it.

Britain’s Daily Mail headlined on May 16th “Strange News from the OPCW”, and Peter Hitchens, at his blog there, reported that “I have received the following reply from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.” It said that, “the OPCW Technical Secretariat is conducting an internal investigation about the unauthorised release of the document in question.” This had been an “unauthorized release”; no question was being raised as to the document’s authenticity.

Who will get the rope to hang Trump, May, and Macron? Of course, nobody. This is the type of world we are living in. Accountability and punishment are only downward, to the individuals below (and many of them are railroaded); credit and rewards are only upward, to the masters above; and so there is no ultimate downside for the people at the very top to perpetrate any crime. There really is no legal jeopardy for people in the positions of Trump, May, and Macron. Such people administer whatever laws actually apply to themselves. There is no accountability for such people, in our world. They are above the reach of any law. And their press say that they are a free press, and that their nation is a democracy. Has the term “democracy” now lost all significant meaning? Or is everything that’s important now, just propaganda, just lies? Is that what we should expect? How can democracy even function under such conditions? It obviously can’t.

The lengthy presentation and analysis of this Engineering report, that the group to which the document had been leaked issued, closed by saying “We thank the OPCW staff members who have communicated with us at considerable personal risk.” All of the decent people there must be terrified, much like a woman who has just been raped is. But this is on a much bigger scale.

“U.S., UK, & France, certainly committed an international war crime against Syria on 14 April 2018.”

Eric Zuesse, 6 November 2019

It is now clear that on 14 April 2018, the three Governments of U.S., UK, and France, fired over a hundred missiles against Syria, on no more ‘justification’ than staged videos that had been done by those regimes’ own proxy boots-on-the-ground fighters in Syria, who are trying to overthrow Syria’s existing, non-sectarian Government and replace it by a Sharia-law regime that would be selected by agents of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family. In other words: the fighters whom the U.S., UK, and France, had been arming and training, had themselves created this pretext of a faked ‘gas attack’ having been perpetrated against civilians, as an excuse in order for those three national regimes (which Governments are those jihadists’ own foreign supporters and backers — the real  international “Deep State” imposing the empire of which they themselves are already a part as the empire’s proxy boots-on-the-ground army) to, additionally and now directly, invade Syria, by means of over a hundred missiles against Syria, on that date: 14 April 2018. The U.S.-and-allied Deep State worked in conjunction with these jihadists in order to wage their war against Syria. This international war-crime, of “aggression” against a sovereign state — or, in common parlance, unprovoked aggression, for conquest — is now clear, and will be fully documented in the following news-report, providing the evidence for prosecution of those three Governments, in an appropriate forum:

On 27 October 2019, Caitlin Johnstone posted to Twitter a 2:18-long audio clip from the BBC World Service in which Jonathan Steele, who specializes in reporting on the Midddle East, reported that now a second whistleblower from within the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) (the U.N.-authorized agency to investigate possible chemical-weapons attacks) is alleging that the OPCW’s final report, regarding the alleged 7 April 2018 chemical attack against Douma Syria, had lied in some significant ways in order to avoid concluding that the ‘attack’ (which had been the excuse for the 14 April 2018 invasion) had been staged and never actually occurred. Johnstone then posted to the American Herald Tribune and other non-mainstream online news-media, an article “The USA’s History Of Controlling The OPCW To Promote Regime Change”, saying:

When the Courage Foundation and WikiLeaks published the findings of an interdisciplinary panel which received an extensive presentation from a whistleblower from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) investigation of an alleged 2018 chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria, it was left unclear (perhaps intentionally) whether this was the same whistleblower who leaked a dissenting Engineering Assessment to the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media this past May or a different one. Subsequent comments from British journalist Jonathan Steele assert that there are indeed two separate whistleblowers from within the OPCW’s Douma investigation, both of whom claim that their investigative findings differed widely from the final OPCW Douma report and were suppressed from the public by the organization.

The official final report aligned with the mainstream narrative promulgated by America’s political/media class that the Syrian government killed dozens of civilians in Douma using cylinders of chlorine gas dropped from the air, while the two whistleblowers found that this is unlikely to have been the case. The official report did not explicitly assign blame to Assad, but it said its findings were in alignment with a chlorine gas attack and included a ballistics report which strongly implied an air strike (opposition fighters in Syria have no air force). The whistleblowers dispute both of these conclusions.

CONCLUDING NOTE: If this sort of thing doesn’t make clear why the U.S. and UK regimes have, for over a decade, imprisoned Julian Assange without trial, and are now slowly murdering him, in solitary confinement, then what ever possibly could make these dictatorships clear?


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Lies, Newsweek and Control of the Media Narrative: Tareq Haddad’s First-Hand Account

By Tareq Haddad

Source

Newsweek_OPCW_82ecf.jpg

A mafia runs editors. Freedom of the press is dead. Journalists and ordinary people must stand up.

  • Introduction
  • Syria
  • Newsweek Suppression: A Timeline of Events
  • Editors at Fault
  • Is Rep. Ilhan Omar a Spy?
  • External Control of the Media Narrative

INTRODUCTION

Until several days ago, I was a journalist at Newsweek. I decided to hand my resignation in because, in essence, I was given a simple choice. On one hand, I could continue to be employed by the company, stay in their chic London offices and earn a steady salary—only if I adhered to what could or could not be reported and suppressed vital facts. Alternatively, I could leave the company and tell the truth.

In the end, that decision was rather simple, all be it I understand the cost to me will be undesirable. I will be unemployed, struggle to finance myself and will likely not find another position in the industry I care about so passionately. If I am a little lucky, I will be smeared as a conspiracy theorist, maybe an Assad apologist or even a Russian asset—the latest farcical slur of the day.

Although I am a British citizen, the irony is that I’m half Arabic and half Russian. (Bellingcat: I’m happy to answer any requests.)

It is a terribly sad state of affairs when perfectly loyal people who want nothing but the best for their countries are labelled with such preposterous accusations. Take Iraq war veteran and Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard for example, who was the target of such mud slinging for opposing U.S. involvement in Syria and for simply standing up to the Democratic Party’s most corrupt politician, Hillary Clinton. These smears are immature for a democracy—but I, in fact, welcome such attacks.

When the facts presented are utterly ignored and the messengers themselves are crucified in this way, it signals to right-minded people who the true perpetrators of lies are and where the truth in fact lies.

That truth is what matters most to me. It is what first drove me to journalism while I was working in Jersey’s offshore finance industry after completing my degree from Binghamton University’s School of Management in upstate New York. I was so outraged when I grew to realize that this small idyllic island I love and had grown up on since the age of nine, a British Crown dependency fifteen miles off the coast of France, was in fact a hub for global tax evasion. This realization came to me while the British people were being told that austerity had to continue—public funding for schools, hospitals, policing and all matter of things were to be slashed—all while the government “recovered” after bailing out the banks following the 2008 crash. That austerity lie was one I could no longer stomach as soon as I came to understand that my fairly uninspiring administrative role was in fact a part of this global network of firms to help multinational companies, businessmen, politicians and members of various royal families in avoiding paying trillions in tax—all under a perfectly legal infrastructure that the government was fully aware of, but kept quiet about.

In my naivety, as I left that industry and began my journalism training, I wrote a piece that detailed some of this corruption in hopes of changing the public awareness around these issues and in hopes that they no longer continued—albeit I did so in a manner of writing and sophistication I would be embarrassed of presently—but to my disappointment at the time, the piece was hardly noticed and the system remains little changed to now. Nonetheless, since that moment, I have not once regretted speaking truthfully, most especially for my own mental wellbeing: I would not have been able to regard myself with a grain of self-respect had I continued to engage in something I knew was a lie. It is the very same force that compels me to write now.

There is also another, deeper force that compels me to write. In my years since that moment when I decided to become a journalist and a writer, although I suspect I have known it intrinsically long before, I have come to learn that truth is also the most fundamental pillar of this modern society we so often take for granted—a realisation that did not come to us easily and one that we should be extremely careful to neglect. That is why when journalistic institutions fail to remember this central pillar, we should all be outraged because our mutual destruction follows. It may sound like hyperbole, but I assure you it’s not. When our record of where we come from is flawed, or our truth to put it more simply, the new lies stack on top of the old until our connection to reality becomes so disjointed that our understanding of the world ultimately implodes. The failure of current journalism, among other factors, is undoubtedly linked to the current regression of the Western world. In consequence, we have become the biggest perpetrators of the crimes our democracies were created to prevent.

Of course, for those who pay attention, this failure of mainstream journalism I speak of is nothing new. It has been ongoing for decades and was all too obvious following the Iraq war fiasco. The U.S. and U.K. governments, headed by people who cared for little other than their own personal gain, told the people of their respective countries a slew of fabrications and the media establishment, other than a handful of exceptions, simply went along for the ride.

This was something that consumed my interest when I was training to be a journalist. How could hundreds of reputable, well-meaning journalists get it so wrong? I read numerous books on the issue—from Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent and Philip Knightley’s The First Casualty to work by Chris Hedges, the Pulitzer-prize-winning former foreign correspondent for the New York Times who was booted out for opposing that war (who I disagree with on some things, for the record)—but still, I believed that honest journalism could be done. Nothing I read however, came close to the dishonesty and deception I experienced while at Newsweek. Previously, I believed that not enough journalists questioned the government narrative sufficiently. I believed they failed to examine the facts with close enough attention and had not connected the dots as a handful of others had done.

No. The problem is far worse than that.

SYRIA

In the aftermath of the Iraq war and during my time studying this failure of the media since, I was of course extremely aware of the high likelihood that the U.S. government narrative on Syria was a deception. For starters, there were the statements made by the retired four-star general, General Wesley Clark, to Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman in 2007, four years prior to the beginning of the Syria conflict. The following is worth watching to in full.

Nonetheless, once I joined IBTimes UK in 2016, after training with the Press Association and working at the Hull Daily Mail (both of whom I am eternally indebted to for giving me an excellent foundation for starting my career) I solidly understood that journalism was not the profession of making unverifiable claims. I, or any journalist for that matter, could not out-right say that the nature of the Syrian conflict was based on a lie, no matter how strongly we suspected it. To do so, we would need unshakeable evidence that pointed to this.

Through the years, good journalists did document evidence. Roula Khalaf, who will soon take over from Lionel Barber as the editor of the Financial Times, wrote one such piece alongside Abigail Fielding-Smith in 2013. It documented how Qatar provided arms and funded the opposition of Bashar al-Assad’s legitimate government to the tune of somewhere between $1 and $3 billion from the outset of the conflict, rubbishing claims that it was a “people’s revolution” that turned violent. Footage captured by Syrian photographer Issa Touma—made into a short film titled 9 Days From My Window in Aleppo—similarly showed how Qatar-funded jihadists from the Al-Tawhid Brigade were present in the streets of Syria’s capital from the very outset of the war.

“Fighters re-enter my street,” Touma says as he films covertly out of his window. “They look different. They are heavily armed men with beards. I had only heard about them before. This is Liwa al-Tawhid. National television calls them terrorists. The international press calls them freedom fighters. I don’t care what they call it—I refuse to chose a side. But it’s a lie that the revolution started peacefully everywhere. At least in my street, Al Said Ali Street, it started with guns. It didn’t start peacefully at all.”

Veterans of the trade Seymour Hersh and Robert Fisk also poked holes in the U.S. government narrative, but their treatment by other journalists has been one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the press.

Hersh—who exposed the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War, the clandestine bombing of Cambodia, the torture at Abu Ghraib prison, in addition to telling the world the real story of how Osama Bin Laden died—was shunned from the industry for reporting a simple fact: Bashar al-Assad’s government is not the only actor with access to chemical weapons in Syria. After a sarin attack in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta in 2013, he was further smeared for reporting that Barack Obama withheld important military intelligence: samples examined in Britain’s Porton Down did not match the chemical signatures of sarin held in the Syrian government’s arsenals.

Fisk, writing days before the Syrian conflict escalated, in a piece that asked Americans to consider what they were really doing in the Middle East as the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 approached, also raised important questions, but he too was largely ignored.

I also did my best to document evidence that poked holes in the narrative as best I could. In 2016, I wrote how Egyptian authorities arrested five people for allegedly filming staged propaganda that purported to be from Syria. Though I’m not aware of any evidence to suggest that the two are connected and I make no such claims, these arrests came to light after The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The Sunday Times revealed that a British PR firm, Bell Pottinger, was working with the CIA, the Pentagon and the National Security Council and received $540 million to create false propaganda in Iraq a month prior.

The following year, after the alleged chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun, I documented the intriguing story of Shajul Islam, the British doctor who purported to have treated the alleged victims and appeared on several television networks including NBC to sell the case for retaliation. He gushed with heroism, but it was not reported he was previously charged with terror offences in the U.K. and was in fact considered a “committed jihadist” by MI6. He was imprisoned in 2013 in connection with the kidnapping of two Western photo-journalists in northern Syria and was struck off Britain’s General Medical Council in 2016. Why he was released without sentencing and was allowed to travel back to Syria remains a mystery to me.

I also refused to recycle the same sloppy language used, inadvertently or not, by a number of other publications. Al Qaeda and their affiliates had always been referred to as terrorists as far as I was aware—why the sudden change to “rebels” or “moderate rebels” for the purposes of Syria? Thankfully, the news editor I worked with most frequently at the time, Fiona Keating, trusted my reporting and had no problems with me using the more appropriate terms “anti-Assad fighters” or “insurgents”—though one could arguably say even that was not accurate enough.

When buses carrying civilian refugees hoping to escape the fighting in Idlib province were attacked with car bombs in April of 2017, killing over 100, most of them women and children, I was disappointed with the Guardian and the BBC for continuing with their use of this infantile word, but this was not the language I felt to be appropriate in my report.

At roughly the same time, in light of the Khan Sheikhoun attack, confronted with an ever-growing list of irregularities and obvious falsifications—such as increasing evidence that the White Helmets were not what they purported of being, or the ridiculousness that the Western world’s de facto authority on Syria had become 7-year-old Bana al-Abed—I wrote an opinion piece that came short of calling the narrative around the Syrian conflict a lie, but simply pleaded that independent investigations of the alleged chemical weapons attack were allowed to take place before we rushed head first into war. I still believed honesty would prevail.

That piece was ultimately declined by IBTimes—though I covertly published it in CounterPunch later—but the rejection email I received from the editor-in-chief at the time makes for interesting reading.

I was sad to hear that asking for an independent investigation into a chemical weapons attack was an “incendiary theory,” but I was forced to move on.

By that summer, I was let go alongside a number of other journalists from the publication after the Buzzfeed-style model of click-bait-aggregation journalism was heavily punished by a new Google algorithm and had largely failed: page views plummeted and editors couldn’t seem to understand it was because we weren’t doing any real journalism. Having felt frustrated with the industry, I decided to not pursue another position in reporting and decided to move to mainland Europe in hopes of pursuing my other passion—literature—with aspirations of being able to write more freely.

Fast forward to 2019, I decided to return to journalism as I was feeling the pressure to have “a grown-up job” and could not count on my ability to be a novelist as a means of long-term career stability. So when I joined Newsweek in September, I was extremely thankful for the opportunity and had no intention of being controversial—the number of jobs in the industry appeared to be shrinking and, besides, the Syrian conflict appeared to be dying down. As soon as I arrived, Newsweek editor-in-chief Nancy Cooper emphasised original reporting and I was even even more pleased. I wanted to come in, get my head down and start building my reputation as a journalist again.

Then on October 6, President Donald Trump and the military machine behind him threw my quiet hopes of staying well clear of Syria into disarray. He announced the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the country and green-lit the Turkish invasion that followed in a matter of days. Given my understanding of the situation, I was asked by Newsweek editors to report on this.

Within days of the Turkish invasion into Syria beginning, Turkey was accused of using the incendiary chemical white phosphorus in an attack on Ras al-Ayn and, again, having pitched the story, I was asked to report on the allegations. This spurred a follow-up investigation on why the use of the substance—a self-igniting chemical that burns at upwards of 4,800 degrees Fahrenheit, causing devastating damage to its victims—was rarely considered a war crime under the relevant weapons conventions and I was commended by Nancy for doing excellent journalism.

It was while investigating this story that I started to come across growing evidence that the U.N.-backed body for investigating chemical weapons use, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), issued a doctored report about an alleged chemical attack in Douma in April of 2018, much to the anger of OPCW investigators who visited the scene. Once Peter Hitchens of the Mail on Sunday published his story containing a leaked letter that was circulated internally from one of the disgruntled OPCW scientists, I believed there was more than enough evidence to publish the story in Newsweek. That case was made even stronger when the letter was confirmed by Reuters and had been corroborated by former OPCW director-general Dr. Jose Bustani.

Although I am no stranger to having story ideas rejected, or having to censor my language to not rock the ship, this was a truth that had to be told. I was not prepared to back down on this.

Let me be clear: there is evidence that a United Nations body—whose jurisdiction was established after the world agreed to never repeat the horrors of World War I and World War II, such as German forces firing more than 150 tons of chlorine gas at French colonial troops in Ypres—is being weaponized to sell the case for war.

After OPCW experts found trace levels of chlorine when they visited Douma—i.e. no different than the levels of chlorine normally present in the atmosphere—or raised concerns that the canisters may have been tampered with or placed, both of which were reflected in their original reports, they made protestations because this information was withheld from the final report that was released to the world’s media. Instead, the final wording said chlorine was “likely” used and the war machine continued.

This is not a “conspiracy theory” as Newsweek sadly said in a statement to Fox News—interestingly the only mainstream publication to cover my resignation. Real OPCW scientists have met with real journalists and explained the timeline of events. They provided internal documents that proved these allegations—documents that were then confirmed by Reuters. This is all I wanted to report.

Meanwhile, OPCW scientists were prevented from investigating Turkey’s alleged use of white phosphorus. This flagrant politicization of a neutral body is opening the world up to repeating the same horrors we experienced in those two devastating wars.

This is unacceptable and I resigned when I was forbidden from reporting on this.

NEWSWEEK SUPPRESSION: A TIMELINE OF EVENTS

I first became aware of the Mail on Sunday report on Monday, November 25, and this is when I raised it with Alfred Joyner, Newsweek’s global executive producer, who had been my main point of contact for pitching stories.

Following a conversation with Alfred, he asked me to write the pitch in a note to him and Newsweek’s foreign affairs editor, Dimi Reider, on the company’s internal messaging system. The following is a copy and paste of that pitch, alongside the conversation that followed in the next few days.

Dimi Reider Alfred Joyner Chat.pdf

Once I returned to the office on Thursday, November 28, I proceeded to have a conversation with Dimi, but to my disappointment, he did not address any of my protestations against why the article could not be published. He made the famous joke about former Soviet politician Leonid Brezhnev irrelevantly, one he had already made to me a couple of weeks before, and after listening to my reasoning for wanting to have the story published for several minutes, all he had to say was: “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid it’s a no.”

The following morning, feeling incredibly frustrated, I wrote an email to Nancy and Newsweek’s digital director and London bureau chief, Laura Davis, to express my concerns.

Several stressful days passed where I did not hear from either Laura or Nancy, but in the meantime, as I tried to continue as best as I could with my every day reporting role, I noticed how an entertainment editor by the name of Tufayel Ahmed began to pick up most of the following stories I wrote.

In my experience of working with editors in the past, if an issue ever arose with a story, we would have a perfectly civil conversation, I would make the relevant adjustments where necessary and the article would be published without further problems. That was not my experience with Tufayel.

At first, when he sent me long, overly critical and often hostile criticisms on articles I wrote, I considered asking him to step into a meeting room in order to ask him whether I had inadvertently done something to offend him. Having come from a newspaper background where mistakes in articles required embarrassing apologies printed in the paper the next day, and having held the belief that editors were your best friend and should always be kept on side, I always prided myself in filing copy that was free of any errors and throughout my career, I was frequently commended for doing exactly this.

In my time at the Hull Daily Mail for example, regarded as one of the U.K.’s best regional newspapers, I do not recall a single correction being printed on any of the articles I wrote. That was the case despite covering murder trials, rape cases and numerous other sensitive stories.

On the eve of the Brexit referendum, despite still being a trainee reporter, I had built such a reputation for my accurate journalism and my attention-to-detail skills that I was even entrusted to single-handedly edit and publish copy from two politics reporters to the publication’s website, while managing the live blog, all social media channels and filing my own stories on national developments as the results came in. The following morning, following a short nap, the editor was so impressed with my efforts that I was asked to conduct the interviews with the local leaders of each political party, despite being one of the most junior reporters on the team.

Brexit.pdf

Furthermore, in close to 1,000 published articles for IBTimes UK, I can only recall one incident where an article required a correction. An Israel lobby group—forgive me for being unable to recall which one—objected to my use of the word “settlements” and requested that it be replaced with “settlement units” instead. This was a reasonable request and the article was updated to reflect this without further incident.

I do not say these things to be self-congratulatory. I say these things because I was deeply saddened and disturbed. Because when I finally received a response from Laura about the OPCW story on December 5, six days after my initial email and after repeated attempts to speak to her in person, only one paragraph was devoted to the leaked letter and the rest of the email attacked my capability as a journalist.

It listed all the instances that Tufayel had criticised me on, unfairly mischaracterising my actions, in addition to listing one genuine mistake I made in the course of everyday reporting—something not to be unexpected when every day I was expected to write four stories, often about complicated topics, sometimes with no prior experience in them. Nonetheless, even for this story, I had taken immediate action needed to resolve and had apologised to editors at the time, the characterisation of what took place in Laura’s email was deeply maligned.

That was the moment I knew beyond doubt what my gut had been telling me before: there was no valid reason for this OPCW story not to be published. It was simply being suppressed. I was being attacked for pushing back against this.

As I have nothing to hide, I will publish Laura’s response in full.

You will see my full response in due course, but first, some further comments about Laura’s criticisms must be addressed.

EDITORS AT FAULT

My first “indiscretion” is rather simple to address. I believe—however I must admit I am not certain, as the information was never published—that the article Laura is referring to this. Regardless of which piece it was, the following events took place.

In 2018, confirming the earlier reporting by Hersh, former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced that the Pentagon has no evidence to support the allegations that the Syrian government used sarin in Ghouta, as reported here by the Associated Press. As Newsweek did not report this fact (more evidence of suppression?) I linked to an opinion piece on our website that addressed that report. The first line of that piece links back to the AP story. When questioned by Tufayel why I did this, I explained that I was simply trying to link to references on our website, explaining to him the source was AP—ironically, I was trying to help Newsweek gather more clicks. The information which was ultimately removed from my article was not badly sourced.

The second point listed by Laura—the only occasion out of 156 stories written during my two-month stint at Newsweek where an article required a correction—raises another serious problem at the publication: editors tell journalists what to report.

This article was assigned to me by Alfred on Newsweek’s internal messaging system, as is commonplace for editors to do, and I felt obliged to report the story, although I had concerns and it is not one I personally would have chosen to do. I raised these concerns with Alfred—whose background is in video editing, not journalism—but instead of ditching the story, a new angle was suggested and a new headline was provided too. Feeling that I couldn’t challenge his authority any further without being rude, I proceeded as best as I could, but in the course of doing so, I made two mistakes: One, I neglected to reach out for comment on two of the five parties involved (thinking Facebook, who I contacted, would comment on behalf of the remaining). Two, I wrongly reported that some funds were donated by Mark Zuckerburg as opposed to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

When the Facebook spokesperson returned my request, she simply pointed me in the direction of tweets made by the remaining individuals and asked if I could update accordingly. The tweets did not criticize our reporting, but of the original reporting done by Popular Information, the source assigned to me by Alfred to base my reporting on.

Once their statements came to my knowledge (which reflected the concerns I had about the article in the first place), I alerted Alfred immediately and did my best to redress. Laura’s criticism also neglected to mention that Newsweek’s chief sub-editor—whom I will not name as he has been among a handful of editors to treat me fairly—was the one to look over the article and he had no problems in publishing my piece.

This practice of editors telling journalists what to write, with what angle and with headlines already assigned is completely backwards and is the cause of numerous problems. How can journalists find genuine newsworthy developments if what to write has already been scripted for them?

I spoke to several Newsweek journalists about this very problem prior to my departure and they shared the same concerns. This was the very same problem that led to Jessica Kwong’s firing a week before my resignation.

Kwong, who I do not know, wrote a story titled “How is Trump Spending Thanksgiving? Tweeting, Golfing and More,” a day before the day in question—only for it to emerge that Trump made a surprise visit to Afghanistan. No proper journalist would have written that piece by their own volition—it was only done because editors were on their tireless crusade for clicks.

In the end, she was fired because she did not approach the White House for comment, although all the information came from the president’s public diary.

“Dear press office,” her email should have read supposedly. “I am writing a piece that is of no useful public information, but will be criticising the president for what he choses to do in his leisure time on Thanksgiving. Can you please provide a statement at your earliest convenience.”

For goodness sake, whatever your opinions are of President Trump, what were most of you doing on Thanksgiving Day?

Most appallingly, in a team meeting between the New York and London offices following the firing, where “lessons to be learned” were discussed at length, the editor in question tried to make a joke along the lines of: “Don’t worry guys! I’ve learned my lesson! I’ll happily edit the story ‘What’s Trump doing on Christmas Day?” Silence followed. You should have seen the faces of the journalists in the room.

A final note on the contents of Laura’s email, for the rest is addressed in my response.

Yes. I did make adjustments in the content management system and republished some articles. Journalists are permitted to do this if they spot small mistakes—such as in spelling or grammar, for example—but I did not editorialise as the email claims. And yes. On the white phosphorus story, I did question an editor’s judgement. It was Nancy’s in fact.

After the article had been published, she amended the headline so that it was more attention grabbing, but the grammar she used made it non-sensical and she also didn’t abide by Newsweek’s own house style in doing so. (She wrote “US” not “U.S.”) I didn’t want an article I spent three weeks working on to be ruined because of sloppiness. Is there something so wrong with that? For the record: I am still unhappy with the headline on the piece as it stands.

Now, before I return to my response and to my ultimate resignation, there were several other important things to note.

IS REP. ILHAN OMAR A QATARI SPY?

On Saturday, November 30, a day after I sent my initial email to Laura and Nancy, I was working a weekend shift and there had been a change in the rota: Tufayel was to be the news editor for the day. There was nothing demonstrably unusual about this, but what did strike me as odd is how I was immediately assigned a story about some relatively unknown congressional candidate who had been kicked off Twitter for tweeting something in relation to the Democratic Congresswoman of Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, and allegations that she was a spy.

The nature of the story was not odd in itself, but only seemed strange because of Dimi’s earlier refutation of my OPCW piece.

“It’s not just about Syria,” he wrote. “This was part of my reluctance to put take up this weird story going around since yesterday about Ilhan Omar being a Qatari spy. Not a single serious U.S. site picked it up, which confirms my hunch it’s BS.”

At the time, not knowing about the story, I thought that was fair enough—it seemed like a ridiculous claim. In fact, when I had seen that line written in Dimi’s refutation, it further enraged me: why was my provable story about the existence of this leaked letter (verified by Reuters!!!) being smeared by being placed next to this?

Regardless, when I was assigned the story by Tufayel, I did my best to be professional and I did what I always did: I pulled up as many resources as I could find on the matter at hand and began to research and fact-check. That was when I was shocked to discover this report in Al Arabiya about Ilhan.

The publication acquired a 233-page legal deposition, made to a U.S. district court, by a Kuwaiti-born Canadian businessman by the name of Alan Bender. He gave evidence against the Qatari emir’s brother, Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al-Thani, after al-Thani was accused of ordering his American bodyguard to murder two people and after holding his hired American paramedic prisoner. In that deposition, Bender claimed to have high connections among Qatari officials—presumably why he was asked to testify—and it was there that he made the Ilhan spy allegations.

Now, I have no further evidence to support Alan Bender’s claims—I will be the first to admit I know very little about Qatari politics—but surely a well-connected businessman’s deposition in a U.S. court of law did not justify Dimi’s “hunch it’s BS” without providing further evidence. If Alan Bender’s claims are untrue and he is lying under oath, he has to answer for them. I suddenly realised that this was a test.

Would I get the hint and do my reporting in line with management orders? Or would I continue to report perfectly publishable details that are in the public interest?

Of course, there is the possibility I was assigned the article by mere happenstance, but what took place after I submitted my draft copy to Tufayel for editing was revealing. The draft I submitted was as follows.

All reasonable journalists, I hope, will not find anything wrong with my reporting here. Despite this, following the submission of my draft, all references to Alan Bender were scrubbed from my piece, and so too was the link to the Al Arabiya’s story. All that was left of the newsworthy information I provided on the matter were the words “baseless claims”.

How was Tufayel so certain that the claims were baseless? Did he have information to the contrary of what Alan Bender said? Or was there any other journalistic justification for removing information that was provided in a court of law, although I clearly stated there was no other evidence to currently support the claims? Was there any good reason at all? I suspect not, other than the fact that it could be deeply damaging if the allegations emerged to be true, and that management orders had been to suppress anything Alan Bender said, as was the same across most media organizations across the U.S.

Curiously, Nancy later amended the article again, this time changing the word “baseless” to “unverified”—softening the language, I imagine, in order to not draw unnecessary attention to it.

This is shown by the content management system (CMS) logs that capture all changes made.

EXTERNAL CONTROL OF THE MEDIA NARRATIVE

While all this was going on, and while I waited for a response from Laura, I started to have strong suspicions that something wasn’t quite right with Dimi, the so-called foreign affairs editor. For starters, he rarely did any foreign affairs editing. He rarely did any editing at all.

Newsweek has a system where reporters paste the relevant CMS link of draft articles ready to be edited into a “publishme” channel of the internal messaging system and editors make their way down the list, picking up stories that reporters had filed. Once they are looked over and published, editors dropped them in another channel called “published_stories” for all to see.

I made a habit of watching this list closely—it was useful to know what other reporters had filed in order to be able to link to their stories and also for ensuring articles were not repeated accidentally. In the two months I spent at Newsweek, I saw Dimi post in the “published_stories” channel only a handful of times. This is odd as most editors publish several stories a day. Instead, his most active contributions to the messaging system were with funny tweets or articles in the “general” thread. Sadly, I do not have physical evidence to support this, but the journalists I worked with will know this to be true.

The only times Dimi appeared to be involved is when a story had the potential to be controversial. He worked on my white phosphorus investigation, made the decision to not publish anything about the original Ilhan spy claims and rejected my attempts at publishing the OPCW leaks.

While working on that white phosphorus story, before I was fully aware of his background, he spoke to me of how he co-founded +972 Magazine—a liberal Israeli publication that started out by covering the 2008-2009 Gaza War. I glanced at his resume and was honored to be working with such an accomplished foreign affairs journalist. I had genuinely hoped to build a closer relationship to him.

That was why I was so bewildered when he flatly refused to publish the OPCW revelations. Surely any editor worth their salt would see this as big? Of course, I understood that the implications of such a piece would be substantial and not easy to report—it was the strongest evidence of lies about Syria to date—but surely most educated people could see this coming? Other evidence was growing by the day.

But no. As the earlier messages showed, there was no desire to report these revelations, regardless of how strong the evidence appeared to be. Dimi was simply happy to defer to Bellingcat—a clearly dubious organization as others have taken the time to address, such as here and here—instead of allowing journalists who are more than capable of doing their own research to do their job.

It was this realization that made me start to question Dimi. When I looked a little deeper, he was the missing piece.

Dimi worked at the European Council on Foreign Relations from 2013 and 2016—the sister organization to the more prevalent think-tank, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Some may be asking why this matters, but the lobbying group—the largest and most powerful in the United States—is nicknamed “Wall Street’s think-tank” for a reason, as the book by Laurence H. Shoup with the same title explains.

To understand just how influential the body is, it is worth noting that 10 of George H. W. Bush’s top 11 foreign policymakers were members, as was the former president himself. Bill Clinton, also a member, hired 15 foreign policymakers with CFR membership from a total of 17. George W. Bush hired 14 CFR members as top foreign policymakers and Barack Obama had 12, with a further five working in domestic policy positions.

Its European sister act is also highly influential, as this graphic from its website about current members demonstrates.

It is also worth noting that the CFR’s current chairman is David Rubenstein, co-founder and executive chairman of the Carlyle Group—the same Carlyle Group which previously described itself as the “leading private equity investor in the aerospace and the defense industries,” until it probably decided it was not a good look to boast about its war profiteering, though its investments in those industries remain.

It is the same Carlyle Group that hosted Osama bin Laden’s brother as the guest of honor for the group’s annual investor meeting in Washington D.C. the same day the Twin Towers fell. George H. W. Bush, an informal advisor to Carlyle, was also present.

Furthermore, one of the CFR’s most notorious exports was former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger—a man famously described by Christopher Hitchens as America’s greatest ever war criminal. His long list of crimes against humanity cannot be summarized quickly.

Jeffrey Epstein was also a member from 1995 to 2009 and in a PR push, the CFR recently announced its decision to donate $350,000 to help fight sexual trafficking victims, equivalent in amount to the donations received from him. It may be obvious to state, but the Epstein story is another that’s not being investigated adequately by the media.

For those wanting to learn more about the influence of the CFR over the years, there is more in this paper published in the political science journal Reviews in American History.

But what about the think tank’s influence on journalism?

I’m unaware if what I will report here is common knowledge to the rest of the industry, but what I discovered when researching this topic is unacceptable to me.

I learned that aside from a large number of prominent journalists holding membership, I discovered that the CFR offers fellowships for journalists to come work alongside its many State Department and Department of Defensive representatives. A list of historical fellows includes top reporters and editors from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and CNN, among others—not forgetting journalists from Newsweek.

The most prominent CFR member to join Newsweek’s ranks was Fareed Zakaria. After stints at Yale and Harvard, at the age of 28, Zakaria became the managing editor of Foreign Affairs—the CFR’s own in-house publication. From there, he became the editor of Newsweek International in 2000, before moving on to edit Time Magazine in 2010.

 

When CIA intelligence analyst Kenneth Pollack wrote a book titled The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq, Zakaria lauded the work and described Pollack as “One of the world’s leading experts on Iraq.”

Zakaria’s Newsweek columns prior to the war also make for interesting reading. “Let’s get real with Iraq,” one headline reads as early as 2001. “Time to take on America’s haters,” another one goes on. Others include “It’s time to do as daddy did,” and “Invade Iraq, but bring friends.” I could go on.

Interestingly, once the war had started in 2003, Foreign Affairs—where Zakaria writes to this day—was ranked first by research firm Erdos and Morgan as the most successful in influencing in public opinion. It achieved the accolade in 2005 and again in 2006. Results for other years are not known.

Scrolling through LinkedIn and Twitter, numerous individuals listed as journalists have taken the same path Zakaria has taken. They complete State Department-funded “diplomacy” degrees from prestigious universities—such as Harvard, Yale, Georgetown and Johns Hopkins, or at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London—before gritting their teeth at publications or think tanks funded by the CFR or Open Society Foundations. Once their unquestioning obedience is demonstrated, they slowly filter into mainstream organizations or Foreign Affairs.

It also emerged that this is the same path that Dimi has taken. +972 Magazine’s biggest funder is the Rockefeller Brother’s Fund, whose president and CEO, Stephen Heintz, is a CFR member. In addition to his work with the ECFR, Dimi is also listed as a research associate at SOAS.

This conflict of interests may be known to other journalists in the trade, but I will repeat: this is unacceptable to me.

The U.S. government, in an ugly alliance with those the profit the most from war, has its tentacles in every part of the media—imposters, with ties to the U.S. State Department, sit in newsrooms all over the world. Editors, with no apparent connections to the member’s club, have done nothing to resist. Together, they filter out what can or cannot be reported. Inconvenient stories are completely blocked. As a result, journalism is quickly dying. America is regressing because it lacks the truth.

The Afghanistan Papers, released this week by the Washington Post, showed further evidence of this. Misinformation, a trillion dollars wasted and two thousand Americans killed—and who knows how many more Afghanis. The newspapers ran countless stories on this utter failure, however, none will not tell you how they are to blame. The same mistakes are being repeated. The situation is becoming more grave. Real journalists and ordinary people need to take back journalism.

This was the letter I sent to Newsweek when I resigned.

Reporter resigns, says Newsweek ‘suppressed’ Syria chemical attack story

Source

Monday, 09 December 2019 7:35 AM

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

This picture shows a bulletproof vest lying at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)’s headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands, April 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

A Newsweek reporter has resigned after the American magazine refuses to publish his article questioning Western-backed findings about the origin of a chemical attack in Syria.

Last April, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) published a report alleging that Syria had carried out a chemical attack against its southwestern city of Douma. The United States, Britain, and France later used the report as an excuse to launch a coordinated missile strike against sites and research facilities near the Syrian capital Damascus and the city of Homs in the Arab country’s west.

The reporter Tareq Haddad submitted his resignation on Friday after his editor refused to publish his article mentioning an internal OPCW email that had revealed inconsistencies between actual findings on the ground by the organization’s experts and the United Nations chemical watchdog’s final report.

“Yesterday, I resigned from Newsweek after my attempts to publish newsworthy revelations about the leaked OPCW letter were refused for no valid reason,” Haddad tweeted on Saturday.

Tareq Haddad@Tareq_Haddad

Yesterday I resigned from Newsweek after my attempts to publish newsworthy revelations about the leaked OPCW letter were refused for no valid reason.

5,876 people are talking about this
The email sent by an OPCW member was revealed by whistleblower website WikiLeaks in late November. In the communication, the inspector had accused the watchdog of doctoring the report, which had been compiled by its experts, who had visited Douma.

The author of the email had rejected as “highly misleading and not supported by facts” the OPCW claim that “sufficient evidence” was found to determine chlorine was “likely released” from cylinders the organization’s experts had analyzed at two different locations in the Syrian city.

Haddad, meanwhile, said he was threatened with legal action after asking his editor why his story about the damning leak had been refused.

“I have collected evidence of how they suppressed the story in addition to evidence from another case where info inconvenient to US govt. was removed [by the outlet], though it was factually correct,” he said.

Fellow journalists, however, lauded Haddad for his courage.

“Newsweek , Newsweek UK, do you have any comment on this tweet from your former reporter Tareq Haddad?” Peter Hitchens of Britain’s The Mail on Sunday paper tweeted. “Mr Haddad, please contact me at The Mail on Sunday in London,” Hitchens added.

Peter Hitchens

@ClarkeMicah

@newsweek . @newsweekuk Do you have any comment on this tweet from your former reporter @Tareq_Haddad? Mr Haddad, please contact me at the Mail on Sunday in London. https://twitter.com/Tareq_Haddad/status/1203274308811993088 

Tareq Haddad@Tareq_Haddad

Yesterday I resigned from Newsweek after my attempts to publish newsworthy revelations about the leaked OPCW letter were refused for no valid reason.

204 people are talking about this
Syria surrendered its entire chemical stockpile in 2013 to a mission led by the OPCW and the United Nations.

Several reports have previously suggested the use of chlorine against civilians by anti-Damascus militants and Western-backed “rescue workers” in an attempt to implicate Damascus and justify foreign military intervention in the Arab country.

 

Syria News: Terror Attacks, Call for OPCW Transparency

 

Syria Jarabulus car explosion Turkey terrorists in-fighting

Western colonial media currently wallows in the misery its politicians have brought to its populations while ignoring the misery it has brought to Syria. On the heels of British media erupting in righteous concern over the fate of ISIS terrorists in Syria, came the ISIS terror attack on London Bridge, complete with every imaginable quirks, including heroes with fire extinguishers and narwhal tusks, heroes in the form of a convicted murderer and a man walking from the scene carrying a clean knife.

Meanwhile, in Syria another car bomb was remotely detonated in downtown Ayn al-Arous south of Tal Abyad in Raqqa northern countryside, 30 November. The terrorist perpetrators are part of Erdogan’s mercenary gangs. SANA has reported no details, simply that at least 13 persons were killed or injured in the massive explosion.

Two children, ages 8 and 9, were murdered by a landmine while grazing sheep in the farmland of Hosh Nasri village in the Douma area of Eastern Ghouta. Landmines left behind — and frequently buried in farmland — by fleeing terrorists remains an ongoing problem. Despite an MoU signed by the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) signed in July 2018, this group’s best work involves Agnes Marcaillou keeping impressive stats on death and dismemberment, reported to the Security Council on a somewhat regular basis.

Speaking of Douma, H.E. Bassam Sabbagh addressed the 24th conference of the State Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention in The Hague, 29 November and voiced his government’s concern over the recent leaked “contents of correspondences of a member of the fact finding mission to the Office of the Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)…which unveil that the OPCW report misrepresented some of the facts on the alleged Douma chemical attack in Damascus countryside” 7 April 2018, which “was used as a pretext for the United States, France and Britain to launch their tripartite military aggression” against the Syrian Arab Republic.

Envoy Sabbagh called for transparency, and noted that the three countries are currently trying to keep a blackout on the leaked report.

To explain in non-diplomatic protocol, the OPCW — corrupt since its ejection of Jose Bustani, per the demand of Dick Cheney via neocon John Bolton — lied in its report on the Douma chemical hoax, in order to allow the war criminal states of the US, UK, and France to maintain their cover story for their illicit, breach of international law, bombing of Syria, based on the lies of al Qaeda terrorists who occupied Douma at that time.

One need only have looked at the video and still photographs provided by the terrorists, dutifully reported by transatlantic NATO stenographer journalists, to know that there were no chemical weapons used, that the human garbage committed a massacre of mostly women and children, so that the criminal tripartite aggressors would bomb Syria, as they had bombed Syria one year earlier, for al Qaeda occupiers of Khan Sheikhoun.

One might also note the length of time between the investigations in Khan Sheikhoun and Douma, for the OPCW findings and also that investigators were too afraid of the various factions of al Qaeda in Khan Sheikhoun to enter, instead accepting fake evidence from the terrorists, and investigators on the ground in Douma, under the protection of the Syrian Arab Army.

Syria has begun participation in the meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), in Rome, to discuss means of combating terrorism in the region. This engagement may mean a breakthrough in return of normalized diplomatic relations between the countries; in February 2018, General Ali Mamlouk visited Rome to discuss security with top Italian officials, but this visit was not publicly acknowledged, by Italy.

SANA has announced a medical breakthrough by the neurosurgery team of the Ibn al-Nafis Hospital in Damascus, in using artificial bone created with 3D printing technology, to expand the cranium size of a patient. This was the first operation of this kind in the SAR.

Also on 30 November are reports of a Jarabulus car bomb detonation, along with its driver, euphemistically referred to as a “militant.” Jarabulus, Syria, has been under the occupation of Caliph wannabe Erdogan thugs, since late 2016.

Syria Jarabulus Turkey terrorists warlords fighting over bounties car bomb explosion
Erdogan’s terrorists killing each other in Jarabulus, Syria.

Erdogan’s warlords are fighting over bounties.

May they continue.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

— Miri Wood

Wikileaks: OPCW Modified Chemical Weapons Report on Syria’s Douma had Crucial Details Omitted

Wikileaks: OPCW Modified Chemical Weapons Report on Syria’s Douma had Crucial Details Omitted

By Staff, Agencies

Three countries – the United States, the United Kingdom and France – carried out airstrikes against Syrian government targets, justifying their assault by claiming that the chemical weapons were allegedly used by the Syrian Army.

Wikileaks revealed that the OPCW’s redacted version of the so-called fact-finding report on Douma’s events had been intentionally doctored, misrepresenting the facts that the investigation team found on the ground in Syria after Western powers have attacked Syria.

According to the whistleblower organization, citing an e-mail sent by a member of an OPCW fact-finding mission to Syria to his superiors, this misrepresentation was achieved by selective omission, introducing a bias which undermines the credibility of the report.

The e-mail, exposed by Wikileaks, says that the crucial facts in the redacted version, “…have morphed into something quite different to what was originally drafted”, alleging that the document’s fixing was done at the behest of the Office of the Director-General [a post held by Turkish diplomat Ahmet Uzumcu at the time].

Notably, the document.,gt said that the OPCW investigators found upon arrival that much of the physical evidence was no longer available.

Local militants have claimed, cited by Western media, that toxic gas came from cylinders dropped from aircraft, alleging Syrian government forces who had complete air superiority at the time. The redacted OPCW report seemed to support these conclusions, but the author of the e-mail outlined aspects he considered “particularly worrisome”.

“Likely one or more chemicals that contain a reactive chlorine atom. Such chemicals could include… the major ingredient of household chlorine-based bleach. Purposely singling out chlorine gas as one of the possibilities is disingenuous”, the leaked e-mail points out, stressing that the redacted report also removed context from a statement in the original draft, which doubted the likelihood of the gas having emanated from cylinders found at the scene in Douma.

The e-mail’s author stressed this was “a major deviation from the original report”.

The redacted OPCW report also dropped another crucial detail about the Douma events. One piece of evidence broadcast across the world was footage claiming victims being treated in a hospital in the alleged aftermath of the attack in Douma. The symptoms shown were, however, not consistent with what witnesses reported seeing that day, the e-mail said.

“Omitting this section of the report [including the epidemiology which has been removed in its entirety] has a serious negative impact on the report as this section is inextricably linked to the chemical agent identified… In this case, the confidence in the identity of chlorine or any other choking agent is drawn into question precisely because of the inconsistency with the reported and observed symptoms. The inconsistency was not only noted by the fact-finding mission team, but strongly supported by three toxicologists with expertise in exposure to chemical warfare agents”, the e-mail revealed.

Another point of contention is the placement and condition of the cylinders reported to have contained the chemical agent. It has been alleged that their condition may not be consistent with having been dropped from the air making it unlikely that the cylinders were air-dropped, a point also discussed in an unreleased engineering report from OPCW that was earlier leaked by Wikileaks.

“This information was important in assessing the likelihood of the ‘presence’ of toxic chemicals versus the ‘use’ of toxic chemicals”, the e-mail stressed, adding that these particular sections are largely absent from the redacted report.

“I am requesting that the fact-finding report be released in its entirety as I fear that this redacted version no longer reflects the work of the team. The original report contains facts and observations that are all equally valid. The fact that inconsistencies are highlighted or observations not fully understood does not justify their omission. the inconsistencies and observations are based on the evidence and data collected”, the e-mail argued.

Following the publication of the initial OPCW report in March, the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed the OPCW ignored evidence provided by Russia and Syria, which confirmed that the attack had been staged by the White Helmets, and expressed concern that the document sought to justify foreign strikes against Syria.

Residents of Douma interviewed earlier were unable to confirm that a chemical attack had taken place. The residents said they knew nothing about such an attack and were not aware of anybody having been affected by toxic chemicals.

The OPCW relied in its probe on data provided by the White Helmets, a rebel-linked group also known as Syria Civil Defence (SCD), that bills itself as a volunteer rescue force. Videos of alleged victims in a hospital being treated for what was claimed to be a chemical gas sparked a media frenzy last year but Russia believes the footage was staged.

The annual conference of the OPCW starts this Monday.

Voices from Syria’s Rukban Refugee Camp Belie Corporate Media Reporting

Global Research, July 05, 2019
MintPress News 4 July 2019

Eva Bartlett visited refugees in Syria escaping the horrid conditions in the Rukban Refugee Camp, a desolate outpost in the US administered deconfliction zone. What she found was very different than the ‘reality’ depicted by the Western press.

***

A little over a year ago — just after the Syrian army and its allies liberated the towns and villages around eastern Ghouta from the myriad armed jihadist groups that had waged a brutal campaign of torture and executions in the area — I interviewed a number of the civilians that had endured life under jihadist rule in Douma, Kafr Batna and the Horjilleh Center for Displaced People just south of Damascus.

A common theme emerged from the testimonies of those civilians: starvation as a result of jihadist control over aid and food supplies, and the public execution of civilians.

Their testimonies echoed those of civilians in other areas of Syria formerly occupied by armed anti-government groups, from Madaya and al-Waer to eastern Aleppo and elsewhere.

Despite those testimonies and the reality on the ground, Western politicians and media alike have placed the blame for the starvation and suffering of Syrian civilians squarely on the shoulders of Russia and Syria, ignoring the culpability of terrorist groups.

In reality, terrorist groups operating within areas of Syria that they occupy have had full control over food and aid, and ample documentation shows that they have hoarded food and medicines for themselves. Even under better circumstances, terrorist groups charged hungry civilians grotesquely inflated prices for basic foods, sometimes demanding up to 8,000 Syrian pounds (US $16) for a kilogram of salt, and 3,000 pounds (US $6) for a bag of bread.

Given the Western press’ obsessive coverage of the starvation and lack of medical care endured by Syrian civilians, its silence has been deafening in the case of Rukban — a desolate refugee camp in Syria’s southeast where conditions are appalling to such an extent that civilians have been dying as a result. Coverage has been scant of the successful evacuations of nearly 15,000 of the 40,000 to 60,000 now-former residents of Rukban (numbers vary according to source) to safe havens where they are provided food, shelter and medical care.

Silence about the civilian evacuations from Rukban is likely a result of the fact that those doing the rescuing are the governments of Syria and Russia — and the fact that they have been doing so in the face of increasing levels of opposition from the U.S. government.

A harsh, abusive environment

Rukban lies on Syria’s desolate desert border with Jordan, surrounded by a 55-km deconfliction zone, unilaterally established and enforced by the United States, and little else aside from the American base at al-Tanf, only 25 km away — a base whose presence is illegal under international law.

It is, by all reports, an unbearably harsh environment year-round and residents of the camp have endured abuse by terrorist groups and merchants within the camp, deprived of the very basics of life for many years now.

In February, the UNHCR reported that young girls and women in Rukban have been forced into marriage, some more than once. Their briefing noted:

Many women are terrified to leave their mud homes or tents and to be outside, as there are serious risks of sexual abuse and harassment. Our staff met mothers who keep their daughters indoors, as they are too afraid to let them go to improvised schools.”

The Jordanian government, home to 664,330 registered Syrian refugees, has adamantly refused any responsibility in providing humanitarian assistance to Rukban, arguing that it is a Syrian issue and that keeping its border with Syria closed is a matter of Jordan’s security — this after a number of terrorist attacks on the border near Rukban, some of which were attributed to ISIS and one that killed six Jordanian soldiers.

According to U.S. think-tank The Century Foundation, armed groups in Rukban have up to 4,000 men in their ranks and include:

Maghawir al-Thawra, the Free Tribes Army, the remnants of a formerly Pentagon-backed group called the Qaryatein Martyr Battalions and three factions formerly linked to the CIA’s covert war in Syria: the Army of the Eastern Lions, the Martyr Ahmed al-Abdo Forces, and the Shaam Liberation Army.”

Those armed groups, according to Russia, include several hundred ISIS and al-Qaeda recruits. Even the Atlantic Council — a NATO- and U.S. State Department-funded think-tank consistent in its anti-Syrian government stance — reported in November 2017 that the Jordanian government acknowledged an ISIS presence in Rukban.

The Century Foundation also notes the presence of ISIS in Rukban and concedes that the U.S. military “controls the area but won’t guarantee the safety of aid workers seeking access to the camp.”

Rukban

The Rukban camp, sandwiched between Jordan, Syria borders and Iraq, Feb. 14, 2017. Raad Adayleh | AP

Syria and Russia have sought out diplomatic means to resolve the issue of Rukban, arguing repeatedly at the United Nations Security Council for the need to dismantle the camp and return refugees to areas once plagued by terrorism but that have now been secured.

As I wrote recently:

The U.S. stymied aid to Rukban, and was then only willing to provide security for aid convoys to a point 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) away from the camp, according to the UN’s own Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock. So, by U.S. administration logic, convoys should have dropped their Rukban-specific aid in areas controlled by terrorist groups and just hoped for the best.”

The U.S., for its part, has both refused the evacuation of refugees from the camp and obstructed aid deliveries on at least two occasions. In February, Russia and Syria opened two humanitarian corridors to Rukban and began delivering much-needed aid to its residents.

Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari, noted in May 2019 that Syria agreed to facilitate the first aid convoy to Rukban earlier this year, but the convoy was ultimately delayed by the United States for 40 days. A second convoy was then delayed for four months. Al-Ja’afari also noted that the U.S., as an occupying power in Syria, is obliged under the Geneva Conventions to provide food, medicine and humanitarian assistance to those under its occupation.

Then, in early March, the Russian Center for Reconciliation reported that U.S. authorities had refused entry to a convoy of buses intending to enter the deconfliction zone to evacuate refugees from Rukban.

According to a March 2019 article from Public Radio International:

[W]hen Syrian and Iranian forces have entered the 34-mile perimeter around the base, American warplanes have responded with strikes — effectively putting Rukban and its residents under American protection from Assad’s forces.”

Despite the abundance of obstacles they faced, Syria and Russia were ultimately able to evacuate over 14,000 of the camp’s residents to safety. In a joint statement on June 19, representatives of the two countries noted that some of the camp’s residents were forced to pay “militants” between $400 to $1000 in order to leave Rukban.

Media reports on Rukban … from abroad

While Rukban — unlike Madaya or Aleppo in 2016 — generally isn’t making headlines, there are some pro-regime-change media reporting on it, although even those reports tend to omit the fact that civilians have been evacuated to safety and provided with food and medical care.

Instead, articles relieve America and armed Jihadist groups of their role in the suffering of displaced Syrians in Rukban, reserving blame for Syria and Russia and claiming internal refugees are being forced to leave against their will only to be imprisoned by the Syrian government.

Emad Ghali, a “media activist,” has been at the center of many of these claims. Ghali has been cited as a credible source in most of the mainstream Western press’ reporting on Rukban, from the New York Times, to Al Jazeera, to the Middle East Eye. Cited since at least 2018 in media reporting on Rukban, Ghali has an allegiance to the Free Syrian Army, a fact easily gleaned by simply browsing his Facebook profile. He recently posted multiple times on Facebook mourning the passing of jihadist commander and footballer Abdul Baset al-Sarout. As it turns out, Sarout not only held extremist and sectarian views, but pledged allegiance to ISIS, among other less-than-noble acts ignored by most media reports that cite him.

Ghali ISIS

Ghali paid homage to ISIS commander Abdul Baset al-Sarout on his Facebook page

Citing Ghali as merely a “media activist” is not an unusual practice for many covering the Syrian conflict. In fact, Ghali holds the same level of extremist-minded views as the “sources” cited by the New York Times in articles that I reported on around the time Ghouta was being liberated from jihadist groups in 2018.

Four sources used in those articles had affiliations to, and/or reverence for the al-Qaeda-linked Jaysh al-Islam — including the former leader Zahran Alloush who has been known to confine civilians in cages, including women and children, for use as human shields in Ghouta — Faylaq al-Rahman, and even to al-Qaeda, not to mention the so-called Emir of al-Qaeda in Syria, the applauded Abu Muhammad Al-Julani.

Claims in a Reuters article of forced internment, being held at gunpoint in refugee centers, come from sources not named in Rukban — instead generically referred to as “residents of Rukban say”…

An article in the UAE-based The National also pushed fear-mongering over the “fate that awaits” evacuees, saying:

[T]here is talk of Syrian government guards separating women and children from men in holding centres in Homs city.There are also accusations of a shooting last month, with two men who had attempted an escape from one of the holding centres allegedly killed. The stories are unconfirmed, but they are enough to make Rukban’s men wary of taking the government’s route out.”

Yet reports from those who have actually visited the centers paint a different picture.

An April 2019 report by Russia-based Vesti News shows calm scenes of Rukban evacuees receiving medical exams by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, who according to Vesti, have doctors there every day; and of food and clean, if not simple, rooms in a former school housing displaced refugees from Rukban. Notably, the Vesti journalist states: “There aren’t any checkpoints or barriers at the centre. The entrance and exit are free.”

The Russian Reconciliation Center reported on May 23 of the refugee centers:

In early May, these shelters were visited by officials from the respective UN agencies, in particular, the UNHCR, who could personally see that the Syrian government provided the required level of accommodation for the refugees in Homs. It is remarkable that most of the former Rukban residents have already relocated from temporary shelters in Homs to permanent residencies in government-controlled areas.”

Likewise, in the Horjilleh Center which I visited in 2018 families were living in modest but sanitary shelters, cooked food was provided, a school was running, and authorities were working to replace identity papers lost during the years under the rule of jihadist groups.

Calling on the U.S. to close the camp

David Swanson, Public Information Officer Regional Office for the Syria Crisis UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs based in Amman, Jordan, told me regarding claims of substandard conditions and of Syrians being forcefully held or mistreated in the centers that,

People leaving Rukban are taken to temporary collective shelters in Homs for a 24-hour stay. While there, they receive basic assistance, including shelter, blankets, mattresses, solar lamps, sleeping mats, plastic sheets, food parcels and nutrition supplies before proceeding to their areas of choice, mostly towards southern and eastern Homs, with small numbers going to rural Damascus or Deir-ez-Zor.

The United Nations has been granted access to the shelters on three occasions and has found the situation there adequate. The United Nations continues to advocate and call for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian assistance and access to Rukban as well as to all those in need throughout Syria. The United Nations also seeks the support of all concerned parties in ensuring the humanitarian and voluntary character of departures from Rukban.”

Hedinn Halldorsson, the Spokesperson and Public Information Officer for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) based in Damascus, told me:

We looked into this when the rumours started, end of April, and concluded they were unfounded – and communicated that externally via press briefings in both Geneva and NY. The conditions in the shelters in Homs are also adequate and in compliance with standards; the UN has access and has done three monitoring visits so far.”

Syria Rukban

Syrian Arab Red Crescent members unload food and water for Rukban’s evacuees. Photo | Eva Bartlett

Halldorsson noted official UN statements, including:

“Alleged mistreatment of Rukban returnees

  • The United Nations is aware of media reports about people leaving Rukban having been killed or subject to mistreatment upon arrival in shelters in Homs.
  • The United Nations has not been able to confirm any of the allegations.

Regarding the issue of shelters, Halldorsson noted that as of July 1st:

  • Nearly 15,600 people have left Rukban since March – or nearly 40 per cent of the estimated total population of 41,700.
  • The United Nations has been granted access to the shelters in Homs on three occasions and found conditions in these shelters to be adequate.”

Confirming both UN officials’ statements about the Syrian government’s role in Rukban, the Syrian Mission to the United Nations in New York City told me:

The Syrian Government has spared no effort in recent years to provide every form of humanitarian assistance and support to all Syrians affected by the crisis, regardless of their locations throughout Syria. The Syrian Government has therefore collaborated and cooperated with the United Nations and other international organizations working in Syria to that end, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 46/182.

There must be an end to the suffering of tens of thousands of civilians who live in Al-Rukban, an area which is controlled by illegitimate foreign forces and armed terrorist groups affiliated with them. The continued suffering of those Syrian civilians demonstrates the indifference of the United States Administration to their suffering and disastrous situation.

We stress once again that there is a need to put an end to the suffering of these civilians and to close this camp definitively. The detained people in the camp must be allowed to leave it and return to their homes, which have been liberated by the Syrian Arab Army from terrorism. We note that the Syrian Government has taken all necessary measures to evacuate the detainees from the Rukban camp and end their suffering. What is needed today is for the American occupation forces to allow the camp to be dismantled and to ensure safe transportation in the occupied Al-Tanf area.”

Given that the United States has clearly demonstrated not only a lack of will to aid and or resettle Rukban’s residents but a callousness that flies in the face of their purported concern for Syrians in Rukban, the words of Syrian and Russian authorities on how to solve the crisis in Rukban could not ring truer.

Very little actual coverage

The sparse coverage Rukban has received has mostly revolved around accusations that the camp’s civilians fear returning to government-secured areas of Syria for fear of being imprisoned or tortured. This, in spite of the fact that areas brought back under government control over the years have seen hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians return to live in peace and of a confirmation by the United Nations that they had “positively assessed the conditions created by the Syrian authorities for returning refugees.”

The accusations also come in spite of the fact that, for years now, millions of internally displaced Syrians have taken shelter in government areas, often housed and given medical care by Syrian authorities.

Over the years I’ve found myself waiting for well over a month for my journalist visa at the Syrian embassy in Beirut to clear. During these times I traveled around Lebanon where I’ve encountered Syrians who left their country either for work, the main reason, or because their neighborhoods were occupied by terrorist groups. All expressed a longing for Syria and a desire to return home.

In March, journalist Sharmine Narwani tweeted in part that,

the head of UNDP in Lebanon told me during an interview: ‘I have not met a single Syrian refugee who does not want to go home.’”

Of the authors who penned articles claiming that Syrians in Rukban are afraid to return to government-secured areas of Syria, few that I’m aware of actually traveled to Syria to speak with evacuees, instead reporting from Istanbul or even further abroad.

On June 12, I did just that, hiring a taxi to take me to a dusty stretch of road roughly 60 km east of ad-Dumayr, Syria, where I was able to intercept a convoy of buses ferrying exhausted refugees out of Rukban.

Merchants, armed groups and Americans

Five hundred meters from a fork in the highway connecting a road heading northeast to Tadmur (Palmyra) to another heading southeast towards Iraq — I waited at a nondescript stopping point called al-Waha, where buses stopped for water and food to be distributed to starving refugees. In Arabic, al-Waha means the oasis and, although only a makeshift Red Crescent distribution center, and compared to Rukban it might as well have been an oasis.

A convoy of 18 buses carrying nearly 900 tormented Syrians followed by a line of trucks carrying their belongings were transferred to refugee reception centers in Homs. Members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent distributed boxes containing beans, chickpeas and canned meat — the latter a scarcity among the displaced.

Rukban evacuation

Buses transported nearly 900 refugees from Rukban Camp to temporary shelters in Homs on June 12. Photo | Eva Bartlett

As food and water were handed out, I moved from bus to bus speaking with people who endured years-long shortages of food, medicine, clean water, work and education … the basic essentials of life. Most people I spoke to said they were starving because they couldn’t afford the hefty prices of food in the camp, which they blamed on Rukban’s merchants. Some blamed the terrorist groups operating in the camp and still others blamed the Americans. A few women I spoke to blamed the Syrian government, saying no aid had entered Rukban at all, a claim that would later be refuted by reports from both the UN and Red Crescent.

Image on the right: An elderly woman recounted enduring hunger in Rukban. Photo | Eva Bartlett

Syria Rukban

An old woman slumped on the floor of one bus recounted:

We were dying of hunger, life was hell there. Traders [merchants] sold everything at high prices, very expensive; we couldn’t afford to buy things. We tried to leave before today but we didn’t have money to pay for a car out. There were no doctors; it was horrible there.”

Aboard another bus, an older woman sat on the floor, two young women and several babies around her. She had spent four years in the camp:

“Everything was expensive, we were hungry all the time. We ate bread, za’atar, yogurt… We didn’t know meat, fruit…”

Merchants charged 1,000 Syrian pounds (US $2) for five potatoes, she said, exemplifying the absurdly high prices.

I asked whether she’d been prevented from leaving before. “Yes,” she responded.

She didn’t get a chance to elaborate as a younger woman further back on the bus shouted at her that no one had been preventing anyone from leaving. When I asked the younger woman how the armed groups had treated her, she replied, “All respect to them.”

But others that I spoke to were explicit in their blame for both the terrorist groups operating in the camp and the U.S. occupation forces in al-Tanf.

An older man from Palmyra who spent four years in the camp spoke of “armed gangs” paid in U.S. dollars being the only ones able to eat properly:

The armed gangs were living while the rest of the people were dead. No one here had fruit for several years. Those who wanted fruit have to pay in U.S. dollars. The armed groups were the only ones who could do so. They were spreading propaganda: ‘don’t go, the aid is coming.’ We do not want aid. We want to go back to our towns.”

Mahmoud Saleh, a young man from Homs, told me he’d fled home five years ago. According to Saleh, the Americans were in control of Rukban. He also put blame on the armed groups operating in the camp, especially for controlling who was permitted to leave. He said,

“There are two other convoys trying to leave but the armed groups are preventing them.”

Image below: Mahmoud Saleh from Homs said the Americans control Rukban and blamed armed groups in the camp for controlling who could leave. Photo | Eva Bartlett

Syria Rukban

A shepherd who had spent three years in Rukban blamed “terrorists” for not being able to leave. He also blamed the United States:

“Those controlling Tanf wouldn’t let us leave, the Americans wouldn’t let us leave.”

Many others I spoke to said they had wanted to leave before but were fear-mongered by terrorists into staying, told they would be “slaughtered by the regime,” a claim parroted by many in the Western press when Aleppo and other areas of Syria were being liberated from armed groups.

The testimonies I heard when speaking to Rukban evacuees radically differed from the claims made in most of the Western press’ reporting about Syria’s treatment of refugees. These testimonies are not only corroborated by Syrian and Russian authorities, but also by the United Nations itself.

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Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and occupied Palestine, where she lived for nearly four years. She is a recipient of the 2017 International Journalism Award for International Reporting, granted by the Mexican Journalists’ Press Club (founded in 1951), was the first recipient of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism, and was short-listed in 2017 for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. See her extended bio on her blog In Gaza. She tweets at @EvaKBartlett

Featured image:  An elderly women evacuated from Rukban complained of hunger due to extremely high food prices. Photo | Eva Bartlett

Bias, Lies and Videotape: Doubts Dog ‘Confirmed’ Syria Chemical Attacks

Disturbing new evidence suggests 2018 incident might’ve been staged, putting everything else, including U.S. retaliation, into question.

Global Research, June 21, 2019

Thanks to an explosive internal memo, there is no reason to believe the claims put forward by the Syrian opposition that President Bashar al-Assad’s government used chemical weapons against innocent civilians in Douma back in April. This is a scenario I have questioned from the beginning.

It also calls into question all the other conclusions and reports by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which was assigned in 2014 “to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic.”

As you recall, the Trump administration initiated a coordinated bombing of Syrian government facilities with the UK and France within days of the Douma incident and before a full investigation of the scene could be completed, charging Assad with the “barbaric act” of using “banned chemical weapons” to kill dozens of people on the scene. Bomb first, ask questions later.

The OPCW began their investigation days after the strikes. The group drew on witness testimonies, environmental and biomedical sample analysis results, and additional digital information from witnesses (i.e. video and still photography), as well as toxicological and ballistic analyses. In July 2018, the OPCW released an interim report on Douma that said “no organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected, either in the environmental samples or in plasma samples from the alleged casualties,” but that chlorine, which is not a banned chemical weapon, was detected there.

The report cited ballistic tests that indicated that the canisters found at two locations on the scene were dropped from the air (witnesses blamed Assad’s forces), but investigations were ongoing. The final report in March reiterated the ballistics data, and the conclusions were just as underwhelming, saying that all of the evidence gathered there provides “reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place,” due in part to traces of chlorine and explosives at the impact sites.

Now, the leaked internal report apparently suppressed by the OPCW says there is a “high probability” that a pair of chlorine gas cylinders that had been claimed as the source of the toxic chemical had been planted there by hand and not dropped by aircraft. This was based on extensive engineering assessments and computer modeling as well as all of the evidence previously afforded to the OPCW.

What does this mean? To my mind, the canisters were planted by the opposition in an effort to frame the Syrian government.

The OPCW has confirmed with the validity of this shocking document and has offered statements to reporters, including Peter Hitchens, who published the organization’s response to him on May 16.

The ramifications of this turn of events extend far beyond simply disproving the allegations concerning the events in April 2018. The credibility of the OPCW itself and every report and conclusion it has released concerning allegations of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government are now suspect. The extent to which the OPCW has, almost exclusively, relied upon the same Syrian opposition sources who are now suspected of fabricating the Douma events raises serious questions about both the methodology and motivation of an organization that had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for “its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.”

In a response to Agence France-Presse (AFP), OPCW director general Fernando Ariasacknowledged there is an internal probe into the memo leak but that he continues to “stand by the impartial and professional conclusions” of the group’s original report. He played down the role of the memo’s author, Ian Henderson, and said his alternative hypotheses were not included in the final OPCW report because they “pointed at possible attribution” and were therefore outside the scope of the OPCW’s fact finding mission in Syria.

Self-produced videos and witness statements provided by the pro-opposition Violations Documentation Center, Syrian Civil Defense (also known as the White Helmets), and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), a non-profit organization that operates hospitals in opposition-controlled Syria, represented the heart and soul of the case against the Syrian government regarding the events in Douma. To my mind, the internal memo now suggests that these actors were engaging in a systemic effort to disseminate disinformation that would facilitate Western military intervention with the goal of removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

This theory has been advanced by pro-Assad forces and their Russian partners for some time. But independent reporting on the ground since the Douma incident has sussed out many of the same concerns. From James Harkin, director of the Center for Investigative Journalism and a fellow at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center, who traveled to the site of the attacks and reported for The Intercept in February of this year:

The imperative to grab the fleeting attention of an international audience certainly seems to have influenced the presentation of the evidence. In the videos and photos that appeared that evening, most analysts and observers agree that there were some signs that the bodies and gas canisters had been moved or tampered with after the event for maximum impact. The Syrian media activists who’d arrived at the apartment block with the dead people weren’t the first to arrive on the scene; they’d heard about the deaths from White Helmet workers and doctors at the hospital.

The relationship between the OPCW and the Syrian opposition can be traced back to 2013. That was when the OPCW was given the responsibility of eliminating Syria’s declared arsenal of chemical weapons; this task was largely completed by 2014. However, the Syrian opposition began making persistent allegations of chemical weapon attacks by the Syrian government in which chlorine, a substance not covered by Syria’s obligation to be disarmed of chemical weapons, was used. In response, the OPCW established the Fact Finding Mission (FFM) in 2014 “to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic.”

The priority of effort for the FFM early on was to investigate allegations of the use of chlorine as a weapon. Since, according to its May 2014 summary, “all reported incidents took place at locations that the Syrian Government considers to be outside its effective control,” the FFM determined that the success of its mission was contingent upon “identification of key actors, such as local authorities and/or representatives of armed opposition groups in charge of the territories in which these locations are situated; the establishment of contacts with these groups in an atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence that allows the mandate and objectives of the FFM to be communicated.”

So from its very inception, the FFM had to rely on the anti-Assad opposition and its supporters for nearly everything. The document that governed the conduct of the FFM’s work in Syria was premised on the fact that the mission would be dependent in part upon “opposition representatives” to coordinate, along with the United Nations, the “security, logistical and operational aspects of the OPCW FFM,” including liaising “for the purposes of making available persons for interviews.”

One could sense the bias resulting from such an arrangement when, acting on information provided to it by the opposition regarding an “alleged attack with chlorine” on the towns of Kafr Zeyta and Al-Lataminah, the FFM changed its original plans to investigate an alleged chlorine attack on the town of Harasta. This decision, the FFM reported, “was welcomed by the opposition.” When the FFM attempted to inspect Kafr Zeyta, however, it was attacked by opposition forces, with one of its vehicles destroyed by a roadside bomb, one inspector wounded, and several inspectors detained by opposition fighters.

The inability to go to Kafr Zeyta precluded the group from “presenting definitive conclusions,” according to the report. But that did not stop the FFM from saying that the information given to them from these opposition sources, “including treating physicians with whom the FFM was able to establish contact,” and public domain material, “lends credence to the view that toxic chemicals, most likely pulmonary irritating agents such as chlorine, have been used in a systematic manner in a number of attacks” against Kafr Zeyta.

So the conclusion/non-conclusion was based not on any onsite investigation, but rather videos produced by the opposition and subsequently released via social media and interviews also likely set up by opposition groups (White Helmets, SAMS, etc.), which we know, according to their own documents, served as the key liaisons for the FFM on the ground.

All of this is worrisome. It is unclear at this point how many Syrian chemical attacks have been truly confirmed since the start of the war. In February of this year, the Global Policy Institute released a report saying there were 336 such reports, but they were broken down into “confirmed,” “credibly substantiated,” and “comprehensively confirmed.” Out of the total, 111 were given the rigorous “comprehensively confirmed” tag, which, according to the group, meant the incidents were “were investigated and confirmed by competent international bodies or backed up by at least three highly reliable independent sources of evidence.”

They do not go into further detail about those bodies and sources, but are sure to thank the White Helmets and their “implementing partner” Mayday Rescue and Violations Documentation Center, among other groups, as “friends and partners” in the study. So it becomes clear, looking at the Kafr Zeytan inspection and beyond, that the same opposition sources that are informing the now-dubious OPCW reports are also delivering data and “assistance” to outside groups reaching international audiences, too.

The role of the OPCW in sustaining the claims made by the obviously biased Syrian opposition sources cannot be understated—by confirming the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma, the OPCW lent credibility to claims that otherwise should not—and indeed would not—have been granted, and in doing so violated the very operating procedures that had been put in place by the OPCW to protect the credibility of the organization and its findings.

There is an old prosecutorial rule—one lie, all lies—that comes into play in this case. With the leaked internal report out there, suggesting that the sources in the Douma investigation were agenda-driven and dishonest, all information ever provided to the OPCW by the White Helmets, SAMS, and other Syrian opposition groups must now, in my mind, be viewed as tainted and therefore unusable.

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Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research

Featured image is from Mikhail Semenov /Shutterstock

Stephen Lendman: Douma Chemical Incident a US-NATO False Flag… OPCW Is a US Imperial Tool

ST

Sunday, 19 May 2019

The chemical watchdog group is mandated “to implement the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention to achieve a world free of” CWs.

Its mission includes conducting “credible and transparent” on-site inspections to verify use of and destruction of these weapons.

Time and again, it flagrantly breaches its mandate, serving US-led Western interests, producing dubious reports with falsified, distorted rubbish, suppressing vital information.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova earlier slammed the group for failing to discharge its duties as mandated by the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Last March, its falsified Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) report on the alleged April 7, 2018 CW incident in Douma, Syria said the following:

“Regarding the alleged use of toxic chemicals as a weapon in Douma (Syria)…evaluation and analysis…of information gathered by the FFM (gathered much too late to matter) provide(s) reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon has taken place on April 7, 2018. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.”

The incident was a US/NATO false flag, Syria wrongfully blamed for a victimless nonevent – no one killed, hospitalized or ill from exposure to toxins, not chlorine or any other banned substance, nothing. The OPCW lied suggesting otherwise.

Douma eyewitnesses and local medical personnel debunked the falsified narrative. Visiting the site days after the alleged incident, Russian technical experts found no evidence of chemical or other toxins in soil samples and other analysis.

Like many other times, Damascus was falsely blamed for what it had nothing to do with. At the time, Russia’s envoy to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin said testimonies from 17 witnesses, including physicians who were right at the scene on that day…recount(ed) the true story of the (false flag) incident.”

“We had no doubt that the allegations of chemical use in Douma are a fabricated and provocative play staged by the so called White Helmets and Western media outlets.”

We can prove that the video of the White Helmets is fabricated, and therefore there is no basis or validity to the signals of Western countries that this material is evidence of a chemical attack in the city of Douma.”

Instead of reporting accurately on what happened, the OPCW bowed to US interests, delivering a falsified report months later.

Damascus slammed the report, saying it “does not differ from the previous mission reports filled with distorted facts” — falsely blaming Syrian forces for CW incidents staged by US-supported terrorists.

Regarding the Douma incident, Syria’s Foreign Ministry blasted the OPCW’s “lack of professionalism,” adding: “It was easy for the Syrian specialists to discover that the OPCW experts were lying when claiming that they investigated the (Douma) incident in the report from various aspects.”

The organization “ignored the possession of toxic chemicals by terrorist groups, although the mission found those substances in the warehouses of terrorists when they visited them.”

The independent Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media obtained an unpublished OPCW report on the Douma incident — indicating it was staged, Damascus having nothing to do with it.

According to the group’s Piers Robinson,”We have confirmation from multiple sources that (the unpublished OPCW report) is authentic.”

Chlorine cylinders found on the scene were placed next to a pre-existing crater — by Western funded, al-Qaeda connected White Helmets. They were not dropped by Syrian aircraft or helicopters as falsely claimed.

Expert independent evaluation determined that two chlorine cylinders were manually placed at the scene to falsely blame Damascus for what it had nothing to do with.

The OPCW’s unpublished report refuted the findings of its published one last March. Ahead of the April 2018 incident, Moscow and Damascus warned of an impending false flag CW attack by US supported terrorists to be wrongfully blamed on Syrian forces.

On Friday, Russia presented a draft Security Council resolution, calling for the OPCW to fulfill its mandate, saying the following:

The Security Council “emphasizes the need to unite the efforts of States Parties to the (chemical weapons) Convention in order to enhance strict compliance with their obligations under the Convention avoiding politicization,” adding: The SC “calls on the States Parties to the Convention to cooperate with each other in a constructive manner and seek to restore the spirit of consensus in the OPCW for the sake of preserving the integrity and inviolability of the Convention.”

Russia’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia accused the OPCW of being “hijacked by politics,” adding: “We are trying to get the (organization) back on track because (it’s) off track and now it is so politicized.”

“It was always a technical organ where consensus prevailed, and now we see that it is completely politicized, with politicized agenda from various parties” — its credibility lost.

Throughout years of US launched aggression on the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011, not a shred of credible evidence indicates CW use by government forces. Indisputable evidence shows US supported terrorists used banned toxins numerous times, incidents falsely blamed on Damascus.

A Trump regime veto of Russia’s draft resolution is likely, supported by Britain and France, wanting nothing interfering with their ability to manipulate the OPCW to serve their interests.

Source: Global Research

H.M

Related

White Helmets Readying Movie Sequel in Idlib

white-helmets

September 20, 2018

The White Helmets scum are readying a sequel to their heinous massacre in Khan Sheikhoun, 4 April 2017.  SANA has just posted a chilling, very large, breaking news ticker, and in red, from the Russian Foreign Ministery. Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization is supplying armed groups in Syria with chemical weapons, including sarin gas.

Though threats of a demonic, murderous sequel have been ongoing since soon after the original White Helmets sarin hoax was produced, the threats have been accelerating at an accelerated rate, since early this year. It now appears that the tripartite aggressor warmongers of the UN may be displeased even by the colonialist support of de Mistura, for the Russian-Erdoganstan agreement for a ‘demilitarized area’ to protect the mostly foreign, criminally insane terrorists in and around Idlib.

Should the current threat go live, prepare for the White Helmets to again share videos of mostly women and children who will have been slaughtered for another snuff porn video (somehow, “the regime” which has successfully liberated Aleppo and Douma from terrorist demons, never seems to hit the terrorists when the White Helmets cameras are rolling). Over recent weeks, these ghouls have kidnapped dozens of Syrian children.

Should this unfathomable atrocity occur, please be mindful that the Oscar-winning, stethoscope-less, ignorant of CPR & spinal precautions fake responder White Helmets who are largely funded by British intelligence and the CIA, shoved their original, cobbled Khan Sheikhoun video into the Orwellian memory hole. They did this to erase evidence that their victims were killed by a poison, given via forced ingestion.  This evidence was primarily seen in comparing the agonal breathing of babies and children with the same agonal breathing seen in the deadly rabbit demonstration in Turkey, 21 December 2012.

Unlike seizure activity, the death throes of agonal breathing can not be faked. This is why the necrophiliac and pedonecrophiliac White Helmets merely showed the dozens of corpses — again, mostly women and their children — in their repulsively horrific Douma production.

Should this planned atrocity be committed, and should sarin actually be used, please be mindful of two things: 1. The original sarin hoax began in Israel, April 2013, to sabotage any UN investigation into chemical weapons use by terrorists against the SAA and the Syrian civilian population. 2. The White Helmets and various takfiri affiliates are savages too primitive to use sarin without self-harm. When they tried to upgrade from weapons grade chlorine to HCN, in Ghouta 2013, they killed so many of their own that they complained that Prince Bandar should not give them such weapons without proper instructions.

white-helmets
The savages are forced to shower & shave before doing UN & State Dept photo ops, but this is their accurate look.

Should sarin actually be unleashed on hostages — mostly women and children, but also some of the 100s of men recently abducted in Idlib on suspicion of willingness to join Reconciliation — this will mean that highly skilled operatives with the best of chemical and biohazard protection, will be the Dr. Mengeles committing the atrocities; the Nusra White Helmets will only come to do their fake ‘rescue’ garbage.

Such an unspeakable horror previously occurred in April 2014, when a genetically altered Clostridium tetani bioweapon was tested on the Syrian Arab Army’s Regiment 74, stationed in Tel el Jabya. All but one soldier was massacred (likely he had a natural immunity, as he was beheaded for having the temerity of not being murdered). On 24 April, a ghastly video showing the primitive savages walking through the corpses of the martyred soldiers was proudly uploaded to the internet.

As it provided essential evidence, it too, was shoved down the Orwellian memory hole.

 

— Miri Wood

FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA, PETER FORD, WARNS OF PENDING WAR PROPAGANDA ON COMMISSION OF INQUIRY REPORT TO UNHRC

In Gaza

Image result for Peter Ford, former British Ambassador to Syria

Peter Ford, former British Ambassador to Syria:
You will be seeing lurid accounts in the Western media of the latest  report to the UN Human Rights Council from the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria. This was issued on 12 September.
In particular it is being stated that the report vindicates claims that weaponised chlorine was used in Douma. This is not what the report (text below) actually says.
If you read the actual report – you have to reach section 92 so obviously few hacks will do that – you will see that it is carefully worded.

The inspectors, who unlike OPCW did not actually visit the site, ‘received a vast body of evidence suggesting that..’ (of course they did, from the jihadis and from hostile intelligence services); ‘they received information on [deaths and injuries] (which is not the same as seeing bodies or examining victims); they ‘recall that weaponisation of chlorine is prohibited’ (but do not actually say that Syrian forces used it in Douma).

Besides the text of the relevant part of the report I have added the paragraph on Raqqa and the ‘indiscriminate attacks and serious violations of international law’ by the coalition of which the UK is part, including the bombing of a school and killing of 40 people.
You will note also the acknowlegement that ISIS exploited hospitals in Raqqa (as other jihadi groups have done in every part of Syria). Naturally the media and our government will not want to discuss that paragraph of the report.
**
Excerpt from the text of the report by the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria:

92. Throughout 7 April, numerous aerial attacks were carried out in Douma, striking various residential areas. A vast body of evidence collected by the Commission suggests that, at approximately 7.30 p.m., a gas cylinder containing a chlorine payload delivered by helicopter struck a multi-storey residential apartment building located approximately 100 metres south-west of Shohada square. The Commission received information on the death of at least 49 individuals, and the wounding of up to 650 others.

93.                 While the Commission cannot make yet any conclusions concerning the exact causes of death, in particular on whether another agent was used in addition to chlorine that may have caused or contributed to deaths and injuries, it recalls that the weaponization of chlorine is prohibited under customary international humanitarian law and under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, ratified by the Syrian Arab Republic in 2013.
95. The Commission also continues to investigate aerial attacks launched against ISIL positions in Raqqah city between June and October 2017, which destroyed much of the city and displaced nearly the entire population. The Commission is concerned that the widespread destruction wrought upon Raqqah city included indiscriminate attacks and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. Significant challenges continue to arise, including with regard to how ISIL prevented civilians from documenting attacks as a matter of policy, how chaos often left victims and witnesses unable to identify whether a given attack was carried out by aerial or ground operations, and how ISIL terrorists embedded themselves and their military installations in numerous civilian infrastructures, including hospitals, thus significantly complicating investigations.
96.          The Commission further notes that the coalition led by the United States acknowledged on 28 June that it had killed 40 civilians during its aerial attack against Al-Badiya school in Mansurah, Raqqah on the night of 20 to 21 March 2017
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SANCTIONS ON SYRIA: THE CRIMINAL, SILENT, KILLER

In Gaza

In 2016, I visited the centre depicted in the linked RT news report on the effect of western sanctions on children with cancer. At the time, the director told me they were trying to help 240 children, were underfunded and in debt, the people working there were volunteers, and (at that time) were facing constant power outages, as was the norm in Aleppo due to terrorists outside of Aleppo controlling the power plant.
Formerly, cancer patients in the north of Syria had excellent treatment at the Kindi Hospital, a massive complex that was respected throughout the region. It was truck-bombed by terrorists in late 2013, completely destroyed. In November 2016, I met and interviewed the former director of Kindi, Dr. Ibrahim Hadid. He emphasized how he tried to get the attention of international organizations both when the hospital was initially occupied by terrorists, and later when it was destroyed. He was met with silence.

Yet another obstacle for cancer patients needing treatment was the fact that for years, the road out of Aleppo would be cut by terrorists, meaning the 1.5 million or more civilians within greater Aleppo were under siege. Aleppo residents told me there were times where the siege lasted for weeks, and more.
The director of this centre rightly insisted there should not be sanctions on medicine. This is criminal. As noted in the RT report, 30 children had died of cancer in that area, due to western sanctions, according to the director.
I previously wrote about the issue of these criminal western sanctions on Syria, quoting Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, who I interviewed in December 2015. I noted:
In terms of how to provide actual relief to the Syrian people, Dr. Shaaban stated:
“The first thing the West should do in this battle against terrorism is to lift the sanctions from the Syrian people. The sanctions are helping terrorists against the Syrian people, who are suffering doubly from the terrorists and from Western measures against the Syrian people.”
Stephen Gowans recently wrote about the US government’s long-time plans to topple the Syrian government, sanctions being one part of the plot.
“Documents prepared by US Congress researchers as early as 2005 revealed that the US government was actively weighing regime change in Syria. …As an alternative to direct military intervention to topple the Syrian government, the United States chose to pressure Damascus through sanctions and support for the internal Syrian opposition.”
The advocacy website, End The Sanctions on Syria, notes: “Similar sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s were shown to have caused the deaths of more than half a million Iraqi children.”
The site went on to report that (as of May 2014), “701 of 1,921 Syrian health centres have been ‘completely gutted’ by the terrorist attacks. Yet rehabilitation of these centres is retarded by the US-EU sanctions, which have already left ‘a deep mark on the healthcare system’… including by blocking access to medicines, medical equipment, transport and communications.”
A May 27, 2015 article in The Lancet reports: “The cost of basic food items has risen six-fold since 2010, although it varies regionally. With the exception of drugs for cancer and diabetes, Syria was 95 percent self-sufficient in terms of drug production before the war. This has virtually collapsed as have many hospitals and primary health-care centres.
Economic sanctions have not removed the President: …only civilians are in the line of fire, attested to by the dire state of household and macro-economies. Sanctions are among the biggest causes of suffering for the people of Syria.”
Recall that last April, when the US and allies illegally bombed Syria on false pretext of Syria having used a chemical or nerve agent in Douma (didn’t happen), one of the targets was a facility in densely-inhabited Damascus which was involved in the local production of cancer treatment components.
As I wrote:

Regarding the actual nature of the buildings bombed, Syrian media, SANA, describes the Pharmaceutical and Chemical Industries Research Institute as “centered on preparing the chemical compositions for cancer drugs.” The destruction of this institute is particularly bitter, as, under the criminal western sanctions, cancer medicines sales to Syria are prohibited.

Interviews with one of its employees, Said Said, corroborate SANA’s description of the facility making cancer treatment and other medicinal components. One article includesSaid’s logical point: “If there were chemical weapons, we would not be able to stand here. I’ve been here since 5:30 am in full health – I’m not coughing.”

Of the facility, the same SANA article noted that its labs had been visited by the OPCW, which issued two reports negating claims of any chemical weapons activities. This is a point Syria’s Ambassador al-Ja’afari raised in the April 14 UN Security Council meeting, noting that the OPCW “handed to Syria an official document which confirmed that the Barzeh centre was not used for any type of chemical activity” that would be in contravention to Syria’s obligations regarding the OPCW.

Lavrov to US: Do not to ‘Play with Fire’ in Syria

Local Editor

Russia’s foreign minister is the latest official to warn the US against using a possible chemical weapons provocation to justify a new strike against Syrian forces. He said Moscow warned the West not to play with fire in Syria.

Sergei Lavrov reiterated the warning that a staged chemical weapons attack in Syria’s Idlib province may trigger a US-led attack on the forces loyal to Damascus.

“A new provocation is being prepared by the West to hamper the anti-terrorist operation in Idlib,” Lavrov said during a joint media conference with his Syrian counterpart, Walid Muallem. “We have facts on the table and have issued a strong warning to our Western partners through our Defense Ministry and our Foreign Ministry not to play with fire.”

Earlier, the Russian military reported that a group of terrorists in Syria was preparing a provocation, in which chlorine gas would be used to frame the Syrian government forces. The incident would be used by the US and its allies to justify a new attack against the country, similar to what happened in April, according to the claim.

Amid international tensions, Russia has launched a massive naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, which involves 25 ships and 30 aircraft, including Tu-160 strategic bombers.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

 

Moallem: Syria’s Decision is to Combat Al-Nusra Terrorists

Local Editor

Syrian Minister Walid Moallem said on Thursday that Syria’s decision is to combat Al-Nusra terrorists in Idlib, whatever the sacrifices were, but the priority is for of local reconciliations, warning against “the stupidity of committing a new Western aggression on Syria.”

“Moscow has recently been the center of regional contacts on Syria and we exchanged views on the outcome of these contacts and our views were identical, so I can say that these talks are constructive and positive.” Moallem added at a joint press conference with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

“We and the Russian Federation have been partners in countering terrorism and have fulfilled great field achievements and we are now close to end this terrorism. Naturally, we should think about Syria’s reconstruction program and our friends in the Russian Federation have the priority in contributing to this program,” Moallem added.

He further added: “We are on the way to achieve security and stability for our people in Syria. We cannot forget the practices of the countries that have been plotting against us from seven years and till now in obstructing us from eliminating terrorism.”

The head of the Syrian diplomacy pointed out that when the Syrian Arab Army liberated the city of Douma and the Eastern Ghouta from terrorism, Washington and its allies invoked the use of chemicals and launched aggression against Syria last April. Now they are repeating the same scenario to prepare for a new aggression with the aim of saving al-Nusra and prolonging the crisis.

Al-Moallem affirmed that Syria will perform its legitimate right to defend itself, warning against the stupidity of committing a new Western aggression on the Syrian people because its repercussions will affect the political process inevitably.

“The decision of the Syrian leadership is to combat Jabhat al-Nusra in Idleb, whatever the sacrifices were. We say that the priority is for the local reconciliations which we have carried out in several areas across Syria. We are ready to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties. We opened Abu al-Dahour corridor for a week and interacted with the local reconciliation committees. Unfortunately al-Nusra arrested most of the members of these committees and prevented civilians from exiting via that corridor,” al-Moallem noted.

“We discussed the issue of our joint efforts to bring the displaced Syrians back to their country. We say to the West, who is crying for human rights in Syria, if you really want to help the return of the displaced, you should make efforts to secure the reconstruction of their homes and infrastructure and lift the unilateral sanctions imposed on Syria,” he added.

“We welcome and call on the Syrian citizens to return home and contribute to programs of reconstruction and be part of building future… and we will try to provide all economic and social conditions for that purpose,” al-Moallem said.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

 

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Roger Waters: “You want to start a war with the Russians? Are you crazy?”

Image result for Roger Waters,

Roger Waters: Israel Is Anti-Semitic

The Saker

August 28, 2018

Translated by Scott Humor

Roger Waters – about his upcoming concerts in Russia, his humanitarian activities and conflict with the “White helmets.”

source: An exclusive interview for the Izvestia newspaper.

At the end of August, Roger Waters, one of the founders of Pink Floyd, will visit Russia as part of his Us+Them World Tour, and the audience in Moscow and St. Petersburg will be able to see his new show. In the capital, the concert will be held at the Olympic stadium on August 31st. On the eve of the concerts, the legendary rock musician talked to the portal iz.ru about things that are common for Russians and Americans, why he opposes demonization of Russia, and reveals some plans on jogging in Moscow.

Q: First, I want to ask you about the upcoming concert. Your show, including its special effects, got a very positive feedback. Some even suggest that you should get an Oscar for it. How did you prepare for this project and how much time it took for you to get it all together?

A: It all started a couple of years ago when a music company Goldenvoice from California asked me to perform in Palm Springs at the Desert Trip music festival. Paul Tollet, the head of the company, had an idea to organize a festival like Coachella, which is held in spring and where I performed back in 2008. But this time he wanted the event to take place in autumn with a small number of performers.

As a result, he planned the performance of six bands, three of which were headliners. I think his idea was to collect The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, and on the sidelines to put Bob Dylan, Neil Young and the band The Who. It was just a crazy idea! Paul (McCartney) contacted me and asked me to represent Pink Floyd, and I agreed. McCartney said, “you’ll be the Beatles, that’s all right.”

At the end we had a performance. I think it was a great opportunity to do something extraordinary. The Desert Trip was the starting point of what we are doing now. It was then I first proposed an idea of having a scenery in the form of the recreated Battersea Power Station at concerts — it became a kind of symbol of the military-industrial complex, which I do not approve of because of its destructive power.

Then the model of the power plant went with us to concerts in Mexico City, and now we are thinking how to get the power plant decorations to appear on stage of indoor venues. I think that in Russia, in Moscow and in St. Petersburg, this part of the performance will be presented.

Q: Have you prepared something special for concerts in Russia? Will they be any different from the other concerts of your tour?

A: We try to do something special for each country. For example, during the show a flying pig appears, circling over the Battersea power station, with a sign saying: “Stay human or die.” We want to translate this inscription into the Russian language.

Also, throughout the concert and during intermissions we will show what difficulties people face in the current conditions, and the careless attitude to human lives that is so prevailing now. We are trying to remind that the world is teetering on the verge of complete disappearance, which can happen, among other things, because of the current struggle against the Russians.

We have stood on the brink of an Apocalypse so many times since 1945. It is simply insane that ordinary people from all over the world cannot come together and demand the destruction of all nuclear weapons, including weapons possessed by Israel. Israel refuses to admit, but it is obvious that they also have it. This is a very dangerous and strange game played by the leaders of the superpowers. We, ordinary citizens, must say: “No, we don’t want this game.” The same is true of climate change. And this once again shows that we are heading towards disappearance of all living creatures. It’s all people’s fault. Is this the life we really want?

By the way, this (Is this the life we really want. ed.) is one of my songs from my last album, from which we will play a few songs at the concert.

Q: A huge number of people listen carefully to your every word. When you called organization the “White helmets” fake, media around the world wrote about this. How did you come to this conclusion?

A: This is a very important question. It happened at a concert in Barcelona last April. Two important events took place then: first, in the evening of April 7th the “White helmets” released a video shot in the Syrian city of Duma. It was a footage of a hospital with many masked children who were being soaked with water all over, and the authors of the video claimed that it was the consequences of a chemical attack.

Based on this video, Donald Trump with his characteristic infantile stupidity, as well as Theresa May and Macron decided to launch a joint bombing attack on Syria. The US, UK and France made this decision based on this one video. And it was obvious that it was a fake, that there was no chemical attack, now we know it for sure. All this happened on April 7, the news came on the 8th, and it so happened that my concert was just that evening.

Then I was approached by a guy, a Frenchman, to support the “White Helmets”. He asked whether it is possible for them to go on stage and to speak in support of the “children of Syria.” I said, ” No, you can’t.” There are too many serious questions about this organization.

Many of their materials were found to be obvious lies. As for Duma, the militants, the jihadists were already leaving the city. With the Syrian army attacks it was obvious that they wouldn’t be able to hold the city, for more than two days. A day later, two journalists arrived at the scene: Robert Fisk from the Independent newspaper and Pearson Sharp from a very conservative Christian television company in Texas. There were no other journalists at that time in Duma.

PEARSON SHARP JOURNALIST IN DOUMA ‘No chemical attack’

They both visited this hospital, talked to the doctors and residents, who weren’t associated with Assad and the Syrian government. They all said the same thing. According to them, the medical personnel stated that there was no chemical attack. No one died in Duma the day it was supposed to happen, not a single person. Because the video claimed that there were about 50 or 60 dead, and the doctors said that the hospital had some people with breathing problems, but these problems were caused by the dust, because of the war activities. That’s why I said from the stage that this is all a falsification and we, the citizens of the United States, France and the UK, should demand from our governments to stop bombing a foreign state based on unproven claims.

This is just an episode of a propaganda war trying to demonize Putin, Assad, Iran and so on. Therefore, we need to be extremely careful and attentive. I said something similar at my concert in Oslo. If there was any evidence that the White Helmets were an organization of ordinary Syrians who wanted to help their fellow citizens, I would support them fully, I would apologize deeply to them. And I’d really like to be wrong about them (the WH).

But, it appears that all the messages that came from the occupied Aleppo pointed out that they were just militants. This is what witnesses say. Now it’s easy to find any information, if you do not follow the general propaganda line.

Q:  Had they offered you money to support them?

A: They tried to attract me in London, a few years back. But I said “no.” Because there are people who are dealing in oil, and they would like to overthrow Assad, and to take everything over. I don’t care about people like that! The whole world policy is based on the protection of human rights, but at the same time — and that’s really pisses me off — they do not care about the people who live there, who were forced to flee, because it became impossible to live there.

Q:  Now, that the conflict in Syria nears its end and the situation is stabilizing. But this war also was the war of fakes and disinformation. When the war in Syria is over, do you think we will be able to find out what was fake and what was true?

A: I don’t know. In general, the winners write history. It’s hard to come back and to revisit the past wars. The Allies rewrote the history of World War II. Some people do research, of course, if they are interested. It requires to study many documents and it’s hard to get to the truth, considering how much is kept secret.

Q: You will come to Russia at a difficult for us time, do you think there will be people who say that you are going to the enemy’s lair?

A: Why would you say that Russia goes through some difficult time, now?

Q: We have the sanctions, “the case of the Skripals”, provocations in Syria and so on…

A: But why does it have to complicate life in Russia? It’s all nonsense. The attack on the Skripals is nonsense. It’s obvious even for those with part of the brain. Many must have no brain at all if they believe this absurdity! I would like to say to the entire world:

“Do you want to start a war with the Russians? What are you, crazy? Do you know who you’re dealing with? The Russians liberated you from the Nazis at the cost of 20 million lives of their countrymen! Do you want to fight them? What have they done to you? What are you talking about?”

The same should be said about Ukraine. Victoria Nuland, (official representative of the US state Department in 2011-2013. Ed. iz.ru) it’s all her fault, she organized it all, and now the country is divided into two parts. I don’t know how Ukraine will get out of this situation, but to blame Russia for this is ridiculous. However, the Americans are good at it, and people believe them, because they control the media and they can twist the situation to benefit themselves.

I myself believe that we won’t have a war with Russia. Russians are brave, persistent and resolute people.  You have a really big and very powerful country.

Q: So, it wasn’t difficult for you to decide to come to Russia?

A: Of course not. People write to me saying that since I am always trying to dissuade artists from performing in Israel, how come I am going to Russia? The Russians have asked me by the thousands to pay attention to how things are going inside the country. The Palestinians also asked me to help to draw the world’s attention to their problems. And I answer those requests.

This concerns the rights and freedoms of citizens. You have a problem with that. But this is your country, and it’s up to you to decide what to do. If you love Putin, then please, it’s not my business! If you don’t love him, it’s none of my business, neither! It’s up to you to choose the government you want.

Q: In the Arab-Israeli conflict, you openly support Palestine. You, as far as we know, even had a conflict with musician Tom York about it. We have a similar situation in Russia with Crimea: some rock stars are still arguing about the status of the peninsula. What do you think about it?

A: I’m not very good at geopolitics. I know that Sevastopol is very important for Russia and Russians. There are many treaties and backed securities, according to which Russia has all rights for this city. The change of power in Ukraine, planned by Washington, just provoked Moscow to further action.

But what I want to say is that now the political elite of the United States does not understand the true meaning of the agreements. They constantly break them and declare that they can do whatever they want. This position scares me because someday it will just kill us all.

Q: Last time you visited Russia seven years ago. After the World Cup, many positive things were said about our country. Even the British fans have noted surprising to them Russian hospitality. Do you expect any surprises from this visit?

A: No, because I have already been to Russia, read your literature and understand your culture. The demonization of Russia, the Russian people and Putin is sad. After all, this isn’t done to fight Russia. This is done to control their own citizens and to earn more money.

Q: A rather philosophical question about your song called The Wall. What kind of walls are being erected in the world now, and what walls are crumbling down?

A: I don’t really understand what you mean by crumbling walls. In fact, now there are now two obvious walls. The first is the wall in Israel, where people’s land, Palestinian land, is being stolen from poor people. And the second is a ridiculous wall on the border with Mexico, which Trump is going to build. It’s absurd, you can’t just stop people who want to cross the border.

We must always remember that no matter what we look like and how we live, we are all brothers and sisters, we are all of the same blood. We are not made to fight against each other. We must help each other in difficult times. This is especially true now, when crowds of refugees are leaving Syria, Libya and West Africa. No matter where they run from, the main thing is that we are to blame. We broke the system down.

And I’m not just talking about Pro-Western forces, I’m talking about all the empires that have ruined everything. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find a force that can help us to organize ourselves and to teach us how to respond to humanitarian crises in a human way. After all, any pressure provokes reciprocal aggression.

It’s like being in a bar when you’re standing and someone’s staring at you and coming closer and closer, raising his fist, and then you’re like, “Hey, you, take it easy. Do you really want a fight?” And all this can really end in a big conflict, and it will be a tragedy. A tragedy for no reason. The only reason for all wars is money.

People who benefit from wars are psychos and sociopaths with no sense of empathy. They do not understand that the pleasure in life lies in the ability to love each other, not in the ability to kill each other. This is something I pay attention to during my show.

Q: You always address the problems of humanity. Which is important. These things are easy to understand, but you keep talking about those issues throughout your life, but it just gets worse… How do you feel about it?

A:  A few years ago, in Washington I was interviewed by your colleagues from the Russia Today. I told them:

“Imagine, we are sitting here, and suddenly all the light go off and electromagnetic waves come. That would mean a hydrogen weapon was used a few hundred miles from here. And in this moment, we might understand that this is it, the end of everything. Who will be interested in all these political disputes, then?

Q: Last question. How do you manage to stay in such good shape?

A: I go to the gym. I have to stay in shape, otherwise, I won’t be able to do what I’m doing right now. I go with my friend: yesterday we ran in the park and today I worked out.

Q: Are you going to run in Moscow parks too?

A: It is a good idea. Running at my age is hard, but necessary, to recharge my batteries, to get myself a boost. I would advise everyone to do some sport activities. The main goal for majority of people is work. We are ready to die at work. But the rich enjoy sports using our money! It’s absolutely great to run in the park and look at birds, instead of sitting in front of the TV at home on the couch. Go to the gym, exercise, or just take a walk!

——-
Comment by the Saker: first, I want to say that it is a big joy for me to see one of my favorite composers, musicians and singers speak up on behalf or Russia and, even more so, on behalf of common sense.  Especially at a time when Russian singers like Boris Grebenshchikov and Iuri Sevchuk display a total lack of moral compass or care and spend all their time either bashing Putin (Sevchuk) or partying with the worst russophobic scum like Saakashvili (Grebenshchikov).  I wrote about this disgraceful behavior here.  As for western singers, let’s not even go there.  They are more concerned with transgender toilets or banning firearms then about an openly Nazi regime in the Ukraine (or in Israel, for that matter).  Generally, I think that artists should stay out of politics because being a good artist does not necessarily qualify you to comment on issues where you have no expertise in whatsoever.  Roger Waters, however, is unique in that 1) he does have the courage to go against the hyper-politically-correct fad of the day and that 2) he has always looked at social, civilizational and political issues, which brings him very close the the Russian tradition of poets and authors being the “conscience of the nation”.

The Ukronazis are, of course, absolutely furious and they have immediately declared that Waters is a “criminal”.  See here for more details on the latest Ukronazi hysterics.  The original Ukie page is here: https://myrotvorets.center/criminal/uoters-rodzher/ (with some Ukropop music with Nazi slogans to boot!).

It is good to see that honest men still exit.

The Saker

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