The principal demonstration of the destruction of “chemical weapons sites in Syria” by the USA/UK/France was the above photo of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre in Barzah, Damascus. The trouble is that site was specifically cleared as chemical weapons free by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in its 23 March 2018 report.
The report stated that:
“the second round of inspections at the Barzah and Jamrayah facilities of the SSRC was concluded on 22 November 2017. …The analysis of samples taken during the inspections did not indicate the presence of scheduled chemicals in the samples, and the inspection team did not observe any activities inconsistent with obligations under the Convention during the second round of inspections at the Barzah and Jamrayah facilities.”
US NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER THREATENED HEAD OF OPCW
The newly appointed US National Security Adviser John Bolton ,who has supported every US military intervention in the Middle East, was certainly the prime mover behind the recent attack on Syria and who now seeks confrontation with Iran has been exposed as a fascist bully who drove out the first Head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Those of us who still try to maintain our Atlanticist pro American beliefs in the face of neocon and Democrat imperial aggression and manic Russophobia feel particular revulsion at the behaviour of Bolton and the US government on whose behalf he threatened the first head of the OPCW. Rarely can one use the term Gestapo methods with literal justification but this is one occasion when it can be used – and for the actions of the representative of a democratic nation – indeed the “exceptional nation” as some embarrassing politicians like Hilary Clinton call it!
It was in 2003 as the USA was preparing to invade Iraq and Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell in Nr 10 Downing Street were lying and manipulating their way through their dodgy dossier to justify the war. The OPCW under the Brazilian Jose Bustani had concluded that Iraq had no chemical weapons or other “weapons of mass destruction” and after a 2001 inspection in Iraq Bustani sought to bring the Iraqis and Libyans into the world wide organisation.
John Bolton was in the George W Bush administration and he phoned Bustani:
“I got a phone call from John Bolton – it was the first time I had contact with him – and he said he had instructions to tell me that I have to resign from the organization, and I asked him why. He said that [my] management style was not agreeable to Washington.”
Bustani refused. Several weeks later Bolton visited him at the OPCW Head office in The Hague.
“He came to my office and said: ‘You have to resign and I give you 24 hours, this is what we want. You have to leave, you have to resign from your organization, director-general.”
Bustani said he was appointed by then circa 100 member states of the OPCW and would not kowtow to the demands of one state. Then Bolton said:
“OK, so there will be retaliation. Prepare to accept the consequences. We know where your kids are.”
In fact Bustani’s children were studying in New York and London. So Bolton was also issuing a threat to commit a crime on the territory of the United Kingdom.
By April 2002 Bustani had been voted out of office with 43 member states abstaining and 48 others towing the US line. Only 7 voted against his dismissal.
USA LEADING CHEMICAL WEAPONS NATION
If one nation has over many decades used and stored chemical weapons on a grand scale it is the USA. Professor Arthur Noble has covered this in his comprehensive article at:
In 1997 the United States pledged to destroy its massive chemical weapons stockpile under the Chemical Weapons Convention. The deadline for completion was in 2012. They are 6 years behind schedule and still possess over 3,000 metric tons of chemical substances – where a lethal dosage is measured in milligrams (that’s ONE BILLIONTH of ONE metric ton) and while claiming they lack funds to destroy their stocks earlier they have now said they will aim for 2023.
The Russian Federation on the other hand, as President Putin has pointed out, possessed more, and despite worse economic pressure and international sanctions has destroyed all of them.
ILLEGALITY OF THE SYRIAN RAID
An Opinion written by the Professor of International Law at the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law & Armed Conflict, Oxford University Dapo Akande for the Labour Party has exposed the Government’s legal case for the attack on Syria as fallacious.
The UN Charter prohibits the threat or use of force by any state against another state UNLESS one of the following applies:
- Individual or collective defence against an aggressor (an example would be the western Allies attack on ISIS in response to an Iraqi Government request)
- Authorisation by the UN under to “maintain international peace and security” (an example would be Libya 2011)
- Consent by the Government of the State attacked (an example would be Russia in Syria today BUT NOT THE WESTERN POWERS)
The British Government relies on the “humanitarian case” for intervention – presumably that civilians were dying due to an alleged chemical weapons attack. But:
- The Governments of France the UK and the USA refused to let the OPCW to do its work before attacking Syria
- The “humanitarian case” is equally applicable to civilians in all wars not just civilians allegedly poisoned by chemicals in Syria
- International law does not accept the humanitarian excuse. The USA lost its case in the International Court of justice in 1986 when it tried to justify its support for the Contras fighting the Government of Nicaragua.
BACKGROUND TO THE ATTACK ON SYRIA
The three western allies did not, prior to the attack:
- show why the Syrian Government would do such a stupid thing just as they were victorious in Douma
- allow the OPCW to do its work before attacking Syria
- explore whether the presumed chemical attack was a false flag by the rebel/terrorist opposition who have used chemical weapons before
- show they were acting according to international law
- show that they had acted democratically at home. Neither the British nor French parliaments were consulted. May had no pubic support and she had only a minority government
- show any concern about opposition groups using chemical weapons.
Despite the above, the air and missile raids went ahead, risking a confrontation with Russia which has been strongly supported by China in this matter and whose armed forces are well represented in the Eastern Mediterranean
WEEKS BEFORE there had been warnings that a false flag chemical attack was imminent. Indeed Russia reported as far back as March 2017 that the US forces were training rebels to fabricate chemical attacks as an excuse for air raids.
DISASTROUS RESULTS OF THE ATTACK
The Russian media have summarised the results of the raids and apart from the last point which would be disputed by the attacking countries (how credibly we don’t know) the other items are well accepted:
◦ not a single civilian perished.
◦ not a single soldier of the Syrian Arab Army was killed.
◦ not a single aircraft or helicopter was destroyed.
◦ there was not a single accidental flight into the zone of responsibility of Russian air defense systems.
◦ not a single damaged airfield used by the Syrian armed forces.
◦ seventy-one out of one hundred and three missiles are lost.
But the attackers courted a dangerous war involving Russia and China, international law and the UN were defied, action was taken without allowing international organisations to do their work and both domestic and international opposition has been roused. If there were ever an episode which show the urgent and critical need for a statesmanlike de-escalation of East West tension this Syrian crisis is it. But where are our Statesmen?
Reagan, Thatcher and Gorbachev brought the end of Cold War confrontation and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. May, Trump, Bolton, Clinton, Macron and Merkel are bent on the reversal of those achievements.