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OPCW insiders slam ‘compromised’ new Syria chemical weapons probe

Current and former staff members of the OPCW have denounced the organization’s IIT report alleging Syrian government sarin use at Ltamenah, criticizing its reliance on rumor, hearsay, “scientifically flawed” claims and the influence of unqualified, secret “experts” aligned with the Western-backed opposition.

by OPCW Insiders

On April 8, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons released a report by its newly formed Investigation and Identification Team, a unit ostensibly established to identify alleged perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria. The IIT investigation examined three alleged incidents in the Syrian town of Ltamenah in March 2017. It concluded “that there are reasonable grounds to believe” that the Syrian army committed a sarin attack in two of the incidents, and a chlorine attack in the third.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised the IIT probe, calling it “the latest in a large and growing body of evidence that the Assad regime uses chemical weapons attacks in Syria as part of a deliberate campaign of violence against the Syrian people. The United States shares the OPCW’s conclusions.

But missing from Pompeo’s remarks and the ensuing U.S. media coverage across the spectrum is the crisis of credibility consuming the OPCW and its senior leadership. The IIT report’s tenuous conclusion “that there are reasonable grounds to believe” the official version of events closely resembles the conclusion of an earlier OPCW report that is now the subject of major controversy and derision. A series of leaks show that OPCW leaders suppressed the findings of inspectors who probed another much more consequential alleged Syrian chemical attack, in the city of Douma in April 2018, which triggered US airstrikes.

The evidence collected in Douma undermined allegations of Syrian government guilt and strongly suggested a staged event by the armed opposition. Leaked internal OPCW emails and documents show that the Douma investigators protested the censorship of their findings, setting off an unfolding cover-up scandal that has called the OPCW’s impartiality into question.

The Grayzone has published a series of leaks from the OPCW’s Douma scandal, and plans to reveal new material that further undermines the official story. The article below reveals how the dissension within the OPCW ranks extends well beyond the Douma investigation.

Here, OPCW insiders offer a withering critique of the IIT report, blasting it as another hyper-politicized piece of bunk. The Grayzone can verify that the authors represent the view of, at minimum, a small group of current and former OPCW officials who took part in its drafting and review.

Max Blumenthal and Aaron Maté, The Grayzone

Part 7 - A flawed report is met with no scientific challenge

The glaring weaknesses in the FFM and IIT’s methodology are clear; the political bias, compromised “evidence”, lack of transparency, singular reliance upon only one side of the story (the groups opposed to the Syrian government), and the flawed arguments on why staging would be “too difficult” for the opposition forces; leads us to serious doubts about the conclusions in the IIT report.

Perhaps to the credit of the IIT members who argued against more definitive, stronger language in their report, what the IIT produced was the desired Western opinion about what could have happened. Weak language stating that “there are reasonable grounds to believe” the official story, it could be argued, actually implies a 50/50 case in which there are similarly reasonable grounds “not to believe” it. 

Perhaps, more accurately, it suggests that the IIT thought “it’s not outside the realms of possibility” that things occurred as suggested in the report, rather than the possibility that the incident had been staged. 

But if the staging was considered unlikely, doesn’t it rank aside the unlikelihood, due to lack of motive, of the Syrians galvanizing the world against them (and angering their Russian supporters) by dropping sarin bombs onto farmland?

At the end of the day, we must be clear that this is little more than an expression of a one-sided opinion.

Unfortunately, lesser-informed elements encompassing practically all mainstream media outlets have interpreted the conclusion – the opinion – as fact. True professionals prefer to stick to facts, so please don’t count us in.

It is most unfortunate that the eagerness of the Western governments, NGOs, commentators, and the complicity of the mainstream media, has ensured that this flawed report is met with no scientific challenge whatsoever. Such is the momentum of the prevailing Syria narrative that most of these aforementioned elements, being sufficiently delighted, have not bothered to read it.

We know there are many competent experts in forensics, chemistry and ballistics who would find the conclusions in the IIT report to be questionable. The methodology and science of the Ltamenah IIT investigation should rather have been trusted to a panel of unbiased, impartial, internationally recognised scientists, investigators and weapons specialists, who would issue their assessment of the alleged chemical attacks in a transparent manner.

And, for the first time, the organization could have publicized the names and professional reputations of the “experts” behind their findings. 

***

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