It was recently revealed that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had suppressed evidence about an alleged chemical attack in 2018. This scandal was downplayed in the mainstream media, but its implications are serious. The OPCW had already been losing the confidence of a number of states, including those of the Non-Aligned Movement as well as China and Russia. The organisation’s credibility has now been called into question in the eyes of all impartial observers.
The suppression of the Engineering Assessment of the Douma incident was not an isolated aberration, according to the latest Briefing Note produced by Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason and Piers Robinson of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (WGSPM) – the organisation entrusted with the original leak of the suppressed assessment.
That trust is based on mutual respect between professional researchers. McKeigue and colleagues ‘are well aware that most staff in the OPCW continue to work professionally for the organisation’s mission of upholding the Chemical Weapons Convention.’
It is also grounded in a sense of shared purpose as human beings on this planet. The reason virtually every nation on Earth has ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) – whose provisions the OPCW is supposed to implement – is to prevent that particular source of atrocious crime from being used anywhere.
Quite simply, the very future of the OPCW is put in jeopardy by the political manipulations that have been undermining its credibility as an honest or impartial watchdog.
The latest WGSPM Briefing Note concerns real crimes – up to and including mass murder – that are not being properly investigated. It shows that investigations into them appear may have been hampered by the very organisation we have all entrusted to carry them out.
So the authors are clear what this means:
The credibility of the OPCW cannot be restored simply by finding some way to reverse what were purported to be the findings of the FFM on the Douma incident, but only by an independent re-examination of all its previous investigations of alleged chemical attacks in Syria, and a radical reform of its governance and procedures.
Read the Briefing Note: ‘How the OPCW’s investigation of the Douma incident was nobbled’, by Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason, Piers Robinson Members of Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media, 26 June 2019
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Very interesting, I hope they can find out more about 8.3: Latamneh 24 March 2017 – when exactly were those sarin positive soil samples taken?
My search so far if anyone is interested (hopefully useful links):
After scenes at Khan Sheikhoun such as https://youtu.be/gmjjgPevF94?t=57 Dr Hazem Najm standing in the crater the next day (samples taken here were tested by Turkey who found “Sarin gas, with cyanide and intensive chlorine” he says), people were keen to stress how sarin is non-persistent.
Nearly a year on from Eliot Higgins’ appeal for evidence and despite the extensive coverage of the same Latamneh hospital and valley the very next day by news channels, activists and NGOs there are no photos, no videos, not even a mention of an allegation before the OPCW interviews.
S/1636/2018 shows there are also no biomedical samples, barely any witnesses and 5.31 states “due to damage sustained to the medical facility on 25 March 2017, it was not possible to provide [medical] records”. But a video from March 26 shows the hospital itself apparently intact
France included an annex listing all allegations since 2012 with their 2017 National Evaluation. March 24 is not included
Idlib Health Directorate made a video with supposed local witnesses for March 30 2017 who state that March 30 was the first time they had been “attacked with poisonous gases by this type of warplanes” Note 5.9 “the sound of a plane”
S/1636/2018 also tells us that the hospital had a 6 am (5.11) “phone consultation with a physician experienced in treating chemical exposure” specifically “for exposure to an organophosphorus chemical”. Figure 6 shows 16 patients with miosis.
For March 30, S/1548/2017 Figure 6 shows the same hospital (see 5.20) again had 16 patients with miosis.
Human Rights Watch quotes a doctor from the same hospital that supposedly treated the victims on March 24. In their report they quote a Dr. Mahmoud al-Mohamad about March 30:
“we didn’t know what it was”
The head of the White Helmets team that takes environmental samples is this man, Mohammed Kayyal. As seen in a suit at Latamneh and Khan Sheikhoun
SNHR produced a report that included interviews about 30 March 2017, one via WhatsApp on August 3 2017 with Mohammad Kayyal “head of the Chemical Strike Respond Center at the civil defense”. He said “We’ve collected samples from two sites. One … at least was contaminated”
S/1548/2017 Figure 11 and videos from 30 March show the two sites referred to sampled by the White Helmets that day (the second a crater to the south). They also show 07SDS a ‘filler cap’ actually inside the crater just like Khan Sheikhoun.
Latamneh March 24 does not appear in SNHR’s list so sampling had not happened at that point or Kayyal chose not to mention it.
I hope someone out there can find out more, especially given the apparent match between the sarin and other samples such as the Khan Sheikhoun soil samples.
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