Skip to main content

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 5 - Behind-the-scenes “experts” and the staging argument

We have noted that the IIT has lent some credence to the question of “staging” in their first report. Or so they appear to have done, with some convincing-sounding arguments about how and why they consider it unlikely that the alleged chemical attacks had been staged. Upon closer examination, however, it is clear that the IIT report raises the topic of staging with the express purpose of dismissing it, again relying upon their battery of behind-the-scenes “experts”. This represents another one of the more flawed scientific arguments in the IIT report.

Not much can be said about considerations of staging in the witness accounts and reports of medical treatment at hospitals, as these are essentially story-lines that cannot be properly corroborated anyway, seeing as medical records were not available. The main focus of the staging discussion, particularly in the cases of alleged use of sarin, thus relates to the items brought by opposition forces to hand over to the FFM in Turkey. These are the soil and gravel samples and metal fragments that were used, with advice from the IIT’s selected “experts”, to confirm their belief that the Syrian Arab Air Force had dropped M4000 aerial bombs containing sarin. 

Never mind that taking seriously the handing over to the FFM of “evidence” by opposition forces – with some items delivered almost a year after the alleged incident – is somewhat dubious. Let’s consider the staging possibilities.

Firstly, in evaluating the results of analysis on soil samples and metal fragments, the IIT reported the “sarin in question is consistent with the sarin of the stockpile and the production processes of the Syrian Arab Republic. In particular, the IIT concluded that the chemical profile (i.e., a collection of chemicals) of the sarin used in Ltamenah on March 24 and 30, 2017 strongly correlates to the chemical profile expected for sarin produced through a binary reaction in which the key binary component (DF) is manufactured via routes, as well as by using precursors and raw materials, pursued by the Syrian Arab Republic in its sarin programme.

This, if intended to support the assertion that Syrian sarin was implicated, or that staging by the use of “spiking” chemicals was unlikely, is bordering on ludicrous. What possible reason could there be for the staging organizers, supporters (or advisors) to provide anything other than chemical samples carefully prepared by using the same precursors and sarin synthesis pathway as the well-known Syrian method? That chemistry has for many years been no secret; it is universally known and (apart from the use of hexamine as the acid scavenger) one of the “standard” ways of making sarin. That immediately defeats the “chemical marker” argument presented by the IIT. It is quite staggering that this argument has been taken seriously by any qualified or competent scientists.

Similarly, in the provision of metal fragments, there may well have been some work involved in sourcing the right bits and pieces to create a convincing scene. There are chopped-up M4000 aerial bomb graveyards in a few locations in Syria, as a result of their destruction of unfilled chemical munitions, part of the procedures required after they acceded to the Convention in late 2013. There is also the possibility of some bits and pieces of “leftovers,” perhaps also from exploded or non-functioning “repurposed” M4000 bombs. (The Syrians had explained that some empty M4000 bombs, normally designed for chemical use, had prior to accession been taken away from the chemical arsenal, to be filled with high explosive for use as conventional munitions).

An inconvenience that would have precluded the placement of larger parts, is that (assuming no intact  and undeclared bombs were still around) the bomb bodies had each been cut into three segments and the stirrers were cut up as part of the destruction of chemical weapons verified during the UN-OPCW Joint Mission. This may be the explanation why in all three cases (Ltamenah 24 and 30 March 2017, and Khan Sheikhoun 4 April 2017) the only metal fragments in question were small scattered odds and ends. 

So what happened to the main remaining parts of the bombs in such cases? In other words, were the scattered bits and pieces, representing a tiny part of the whole M4000 aerial bomb, all that were available for strategic placement by the opposition forces (because that was all that was given to them) – and thus all that was recovered despite their apparent diligence in scouting the area? 

It is well known that the relatively small burster charge on this type of munition does not shatter or vaporise the entire object (as appears to be suggested by the IIT experts), and would not be expected to leave just a few isolated smallish fragments that are assessed as “could have come from a M4000 aerial bomb”. That certainly smacks of staging; seemingly effective but limited by the materials at hand.

One could argue that the IIT’s entire logic of staging is somewhat self-defeating, particularly it’s reasoning around the effort required and the lack of propaganda “publicity” for the opposition forces (again, a line of argument raised by the IIT in their report). If the staging was done by or on behalf of the opposition forces, supported (as has been alleged) by Western agents, in order to provide a justification and perhaps prompt Western intervention, one would expect that the outcome that has been achieved with the IIT report has therefore been successful for both parties. To recognize this, one only has to consider some of the renewed calls in the media for military intervention in Syria in the wake of the IIT report.

And if, as alleged – and, it seems, proven – Western NGOs and intelligence personnel were operating in Syria, surely they would have provided the appropriate level of technical expertise to ensure the staging was successful? For example, looking at some other questionable “compelling evidence”, selecting or describing the type of crater required, and providing a fuse that had the appearance of having functioned “normally,” as of course this would all be reflected in the guidance, briefings and coordination provided to the opposition forces to give to the FFM.

One could even argue that the staging had elements of a self-contained loop, with the same (or similar) Western/NATO experts being involved in setting up the scenario as those providing later assessments for the IIT. Is that not a worthwhile endeavor in furthering the foreign policy agenda? It appears to have worked.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Neoliberal fascists continue the purge of the real Left and give us a small taste of what will happen under a Biden presidency

globinfo freexchange At about the time we were writing the article The time has come for neoliberalism to expose its true nature as a kind of refined fascism , the neoliberal regime did everything it could to justify us.  As the liberal elites proceed with the establishment of an increasingly authoritarian system to protect neoliberal order, the purge of real Leftists from key positions should be expected and considered almost certain.   Latest victims of the purge are two important figures in politics and journalism: Jeremy Corbyn and Glenn Greenwald.    The level of neoliberal Blairite evilness in the Labour Party hit a new record. In an unprecedented move, the new leadership decided to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn. In a fascistic manner, the Blairite faction wasted no time and took advantage of the EHRC report to do what it had in mind in the first place: get rid of the party's Leftist faction once and for all.   And all this, despite the fact that Corbyn repeatedly appeared to be

The time has come for neoliberalism to expose its true nature as a kind of refined fascism

globinfo freexchange In an interesting interview, Afshin Rattansi spoke with William Robinson, author of The Global Police State . They discussed how capitalism's crises have fuelled the rise of the global police state. The drastic inequality and poverty that has become a theme of modern capitalism which necessitates the global police state. Also, whether there is class warfare on the poor and the growing industry of militarism and oppression.   As Robinson points out: The global police state has been on full display in the United States in the uprising that took place in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd. But the largest story here, of course, is the mega cities of the world. Not just the hot war zones such as in the middle east.     The mega cities of the world are now the theaters for this global police state. And it's where these inequalities are so incredibly acute. And so all of the panoply of what i'm referring to as global police state is unle

Liberal plutocrats win a critical battle with their Biden puppet in the capitalist civil war and Trump keeps helping them

globinfo freexchange The globalist faction of the US capital (primarily consisted by the liberal plutocracy ) had the chance to counterattack against the capitalists around Trump through Biden's recent victory, in the ongoing capitalist civil war .   Yet, despite the fact that Trump brought some serious trouble to the liberal capitalists, ironically, he came right on time to rescue them. He helped them escape from the dead end, after eight years of an utterly disappointing Obama administration.  At the time when the liberal capitalists ran out of tricks (and social movements were pushing for real change in the US), Trump came to their rescue. Suddenly, the Obama fraud was almost forgotten and all the progressives had to align with the liberal fraudsters in order to defeat the "creepy orange clown". After four years of anti-Trump liberal hysteria and a pandemic nightmare that also came right on time, the liberal capitalists managed to put another puppet in power. And they

Συνεχίζονται οι επιχειρήσεις προπαγάνδας και αποπροσανατολισμού της μιντιακής χούντας εν μέσω πανδημίας

του system failure   Είναι ξεκάθαρο, πλέον, ότι η κυβέρνηση Μητσοτάκη έχει χάσει τον έλεγχο στο μέτωπο της καταπολέμησης της πανδημίας. Και το χειρότερο είναι ότι ο έλεγχος έχει χαθεί όχι τόσο λόγω ανικανότητας, αλλά περισσότερο λόγω αναλγησίας και ιδεολογικού φανατισμού που χαρακτηρίζει τα περισσότερα μέλη της. Είχαμε ήδη επισημάνει από τον Μάρτιο ότι οι κυβερνώντες παίζουν κρυφτούλι και δείχνουν απρόθυμοι να κάνουν τις απαραίτητες προσλήψεις για να ενισχύσουν τα δημόσια νοσοκομεία. Αλλά και τα γνωστά "παπαγαλάκια", εν μέσω τέτοιας υγειονομικής κρίσης, δεν σταματούν ούτε στιγμή να λοιδορούν με άφθονη προπαγάνδα το Εθνικό Σύστημα Υγείας.   Όπως είχαμε επίσης επισημάνει, είναι φανερό ότι η κυβέρνηση Μητσοτάκη έχει ρίξει όλο το βάρος στα αυστηρά μέτρα περιορισμού, ώστε να μην αναγκαστεί να κάνει το αυτονόητο: να ενισχύσει αποφασιστικά τα δημόσια νοσοκομεία με ιατρικό προσωπικό και εξοπλισμό.    Την ίδια στιγμή, η μιντιακή χούντα, που στηρίζει με νύχια και με δόντια το κα

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party suspension is about crushing the Left

Keir Starmer’s baseless decision to suspend former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is a transparent attack on the Left. Labour members must fight it, or everything Corbyn stood for will depart with him.   by Ronan Burtenshaw   Yesterday, the EHRC report into Labour’s antisemitism controversy was released. Contrary to the doomsday predictions on both sides — that it would label the party institutionally antisemitic or personally indict Jeremy Corbyn and his team — it was a sober and earnest document that focused on procedural issues. By lunchtime, it seemed likely it would be broadly accepted across the Labour Party. The report found that Labour’s processes for handling antisemitism complaints were lacking. Its structures were too weak, they were subject to political pressures, under-resourced, and lacked proper guidance. Its staff had not had access to appropriate training. The most damning finding — of harassment — related to two cases where representatives of the party, former mayo

Confirmed: Biden never wanted the Green New Deal and now he has a perfect excuse to bury it

globinfo freexchange   In a revealing interview for the Greek radio-station Radio 98.4 , former Greek Minister of Finance and current DiEM25 leader, Yanis Varoufakis, spoke about the current situation in Greece under COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the result of the recent US general election.  The current Greek government ( one of the worst the last decades as it seems), receives a lot of negative criticism from the opposition and from the independent press in Greece, for the fact that it didn't take advantage of the first lock-down to reinforce Greece's public healthcare system.   It seems that during this second wave of the pandemic (and the second lock-down), the Greek government is losing control as the COVID-19 cases rise dramatically and the public healthcare system now operates close to its limits. Mitsotakis administration receives negative criticism for the fact it left the tourism sector open during the summer to protect specific private interests. Most importantly,

Η έξαρση της πανδημίας επισπεύδει την καταστροφή που φέρνει το Μητσοτακικό καθεστώς

globinfo freexchange Φαίνεται, δυστυχώς, ότι για άλλη μια φορά είχαμε δίκιο, καθώς αυτή η επιεικώς απαράδεκτη κυβέρνηση κάνει ότι μπορεί για να μας επιβεβαιώσει.   Γνωρίζαμε ότι η φράξια των νεοφιλελεύθερων τζιχαντιστών του Μητσοτακικού καθεστώτος είχε ως κεντρική αποστολή να ξεπουλήσει τα πάντα και να ιδιωτικοποιήσει το Εθνικό Σύστημα Υγείας. Δεν μπορούσαμε όμως να φανταστούμε, ότι οι φανατικοί του Μητσοτάκη θα έφταναν σε τέτοιο σημείο, ώστε όχι μόνο να εμπαίζουν πολίτες, γιατρούς και νοσηλευτικό προσωπικό, αλλά και να βρίσκουν μιας πρώτης τάξεως ευκαιρία, με αφορμή την κρίση, να συρρικνώσουν, αντί να στελεχώσουν το ΕΣΥ!   Αυτά τα γράφαμε τον Μάρτιο και κατά τη διάρκεια του πρώτου κύματος της πανδημίας, όπου το νοσοκομείο Καστοριάς, μιας περιοχής που είχε πληγεί ιδιαίτερα και τότε από την πανδημία, δοκιμάστηκε σκληρά από την αναλγησία και απροθυμία των κυβερνώντων να το ενισχύσουν ουσιαστικά.   Όπως είχαμε αναφέρει, οι ανεκδιήγητοι του Μητσοτάκη, όχι μόνο αρνήθηκαν να ενισχύσου

Media responds with apathy, disappointment as US-backed coup Gov’t concedes defeat in Bolivia

Across the spectrum, corporate media has endorsed last year’s rightwing takeover of Bolivia, refusing to label it as a coup. Coverage of Sunday’s historical elections hasn’t been much better.   by Alan Macleod    Part 2 - Media disappointment at return of democracy Across the spectrum, corporate media endorsed the events of November, refusing to label them a coup. The New York Times editorial board claimed that the “ increasingly autocratic ” tyrant Morales had actually “ resigned, ” after “ protests ” over a “ highly fishy vote. ”  The Washington Post did the same. “ There can be little doubt who was responsible for the chaos: newly resigned president Evo Morales, ” their editorial board wrote, as they expressed their relief that Bolivia was finally in the hands of “ more responsible leaders ” like Añez, (who, at the time, was giving security forces orders to shoot her opponents in the streets).    Despite this, The Wall Street Journal ’s board decided the events of November constit

Why is the World going to Hell?

by Jonathan Cook   Part 5 - Our mental black boxes   The third chapter gets to the nub of the problem without indicating exactly what that nub is. That is because The Social Dilemma cannot properly draw from its already faulty premises the necessary conclusion to indict a system in which the Netflix corporation that funded the documentary and is televising it is so deeply embedded itself. For all its heart-on-its-sleeve anxieties about the “existential threat” we face as a species, The Social Dilemma is strangely quiet about what needs to change – aside from limiting our kids’ exposure to Youtube and Facebook. It is a deflating ending to the rollercoaster ride that preceded it. Here I want to backtrack a little. The film’s first chapter makes it sound as though social media’s rewiring of our brains to sell us advertising is something entirely new. The second chapter treats our society’s growing loss of empathy, and the rapid rise in an individualistic narcissism, as something entirely

Labour ‘anti-Semitism’ report exposes real ‘political interference’

Jonathan Cook dissects the investigation by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission into the U.K. Labour Party.  by Jonathan Cook Part 1 I recently published in Middle East Eye a detailed analysis of last week’s report by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission into the question of whether the U.K. Labour Party had an especial anti-Semitism problem. (You can read a slightly fuller version of that article on my website.) In the piece, I reached two main conclusions. First, the commission’s headline verdict — though you would never know it from reading the media’s coverage — was that no case was found that Labour suffered from “ institutional anti-Semitism. ” That, however, was precisely the claim that had been made by groups like the Jewish Labour Movement, the Campaign Against Antisemitism, the Board of Deputies and prominent rabbis such as Ephraim Mirvis. Their claims were amplified by Jewish media outlets such as The Jewish Chronicle and individual journalists such as Jonatha