Last week, an internal engineering report produced by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was leaked to the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media, an independent watchdog organization dedicated to disseminating facts from propaganda surrounding the turmoil in Syria. Dr. Piers Robinson from the group told Reuters that, “We have confirmation from multiple sources that it is authentic,”—going on to note that the OPCW has not denied the authenticity of the bombshell (no pun intended) document.
The OPCW told Peter Hitchens of The Daily Mail that the group was, “conducting an internal investigation about the unauthorised release of the document in question.” When Hitchens pressed for the name of the person who signed the leaked document, the OPCW responded, “…Per OPCW rules and regulations, and in order to ensure the privacy, safety, and security of personnel, the OPCW does not provide information about individual staff members of the Technical Secretariat.” The internal report contradicts the conclusions of the final report that claim the gas canisters were dropped from the air in the infamous Douma attack in April of 2018, concluding the end of the report with the statement, “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 delivered from an aircraft.”
Dr. Piers Robinson also told Reuters that, “The OPCW FFM final report was not signed off. No one’s name was put to it. That is very unusual for OPCW final reports,” going on to point out that while the internally sourced document from the OPCW’s own engineering team was not incorporated into the final report, the OPCW heavily relied on “obscure, unnamed, anonymous organizations” to support the final report’s conclusions that the gas canisters were dropped by air. Dr. Robinson wonders “what kind of political pressure might have been brought to bear on the OPCW” by Washington and other western nations that would bring the international watchdog to suppress an internal engineering report in preference for one produced by anonymous, unnamed sources. Russian Envoy to the OPCW, Alexander Shulgin, told Reuters that, “Admitting that it was a staged provocation… would deny the US and their allies the legitimacy they claimed for carrying out the missile strike on Syria.”
The OPCW’s final report should have at least included the evidence their internal engineering team found that cast doubt on their conclusions, if they were seeking an unbiased, objective report as opposed to only citing baseless claims by unverified, unknown “experts” to support their hypothesis. The evidence that pointed to the cylinders being manually placed instead of dropped from a government aircraft, is found in multiple portions of the “findings” section of the leaked document.
3 significant findings of “location 2,” alleged impact site of canister 1
“In the simulations, steel rebar clearly affected the deformation of the steel. Indeed, pronounced incidents of the rebar were obtained. Although, steel rebar was observed in the images of the observed concrete crater, no traces of interaction of the cylinder with the steel rebar were observed on the cylinder.”
“The model was not able to reproduce the reinforcement response observed in images of the observed crater, more specifically reinforcement bars which are locally bent over an angle higher than 90° at a location away from the impact location..”
“The simulation results demonstrated that the observed non-penetration of the concrete slab by the cylinder required the vertical component of velocity of the cylinder and the rebars to approach zero at some point. The cylinder slows down as it stopped by the rebar as the model clearly shows the concrete slab does not do this. In this regard the observed appearance of the cylinder and the rebar were not consistent. The front of the observed cylinder shows no signs of impact with the concrete slab or the rebar, and the appearance of the rebar does not indicate it having slowed the cylinder to a stop.”
3 significant findings of location 4” alleged impact site of the second canister
“In the scaled dimensional analysis on the location 4 cylinder, pre- and post deformation, compared with the crater on the roof, it was not possible to establish a set of circumstances where the post deformation cylinder could fit through the crater with the valve still intact, and the fins deformed in the manner observed. The observed deformation of the cylinder and direction of apparent inertial deformation of attachments were clearly consistent with a cylinder having impacted in a flat-configuration on a horizontal surface, and not that of a cylinder having penetrated through a crater.”
“Open source images showed the presence of of a truncated conical metal object in the bed room. By the time the FFM arrived at the scene, this object had been removed. Examination of the front of the cylinder did not shown signs of this ever having been attached to the front end of the cylinder; nor of it being stripped off as a result of impact”
“Examination of the cylinder, including paintwork,condition of metal surfaces, and the mild steel attachments, indicated a significant degree of degradation(corrosion) as a result of weathering in areas that had been damaged through impact. Whilst it may be speculative to consider it unlikely that an old, rusty, already damaged cylinder would be deployed from an aircraft; the cylinder showed appearance of of having spent some post-damage time being exposed to the elements, and would most likely not have degraded to such an extent in the case of it being inside a bedroom.”
Ever since the infamous Ghouta attack, the first of many such allegations, Assad has repeatedly denied any usage of chemical weapons, with the Douma attack being no different. After all, he had no clear or practical motive to use them, knowing the international community was watching and such actions would cause more problems than solutions in his war on terrorism. Ever since the Douma attack, there has been rampant speculation into whether it was “staged,” it wouldn’t be the first time. A former OPCW official told James Harkin of the Intercept that when investigating the Aleppo chemical attack in September of 2016, he concluded that pieces of alleged photographic evidence was fabricated and that “some opposition witnesses had clearly been coached.” The investigative piece, written earlier this year before the leaked OPCW report, concluded, “That canister, its nose neatly wedged into a balcony roof, would become Douma’s smoking gun.” Now that the OPCW’s leaked internal engineering report has come to light, it would seem that the immediate response by foreign nations to launch cruise missiles at Syria was misguided.
Even before the leak, the responding attack by Western forces was viewed by many as unjust in the sense that evidence of the attacks had not even been analyzed, let alone properly analyzed. Why would these countries “jump the gun” and attack Syria’s sovereign government without reasonable evidence, let alone certainty of who perpetrated the attacks? The coordinated strike was executed less than two days before the OPCW’s initial investigative team was due to arrive in Douma to collect evidence, before any facts were confirmed. The majority of mainstream media reporting Assad as the culprit in a manner that was “more than speculative” at the time contributed to the strike being generally accepted by the populations of the governments that perpetrated the strikes, despite a complete lack of reasonable evidence to justify such aggressive actions.
Long term BBC reporter Riam Dalati shocked the world three months ago when he tweeted “I can prove without a doubt the Dhouma hospital scene was staged,” following up with a tweet that read, “Russia and at least one NATO country knew about what happened in the hospital. Documents were sent. However, no one knew what really happened at the flats apart from activists manipulating the scene there. This is why Russia focused solely on discrediting the hospital scene.” Continuing the thread, he tweeted, “Truth is James Harkin got the basics right in terms of Douma’s “propaganda” value. The ATTACK DID HAPPEN, Sarin wasn’t used, but we’ll have to wait for OPCW to prove Chlorine or otherwise. However, everything else around the attack was manufactured for maximum effect.”
Dalati made the tweets in response to the aforementioned article by James Harkin of the Intercept. Harkins spent months investigating on the ground, gathering information, visiting the sites, and interviewing eyewitnesses. He also tweeted, “At least some of that caution appears to have been warranted. Three months after the attack, the OPCW released its interim report into what happened in Douma. The report found no evidence of organophosphorus nerve agents like sarin either at the site or in samples from the casualties — something of a surprise, because the suspected use of sarin had been one of the justifications for American airstrikes back in April, and alleged Syrian chemical weapons facilities their primary target. But the investigators did find something else.” It’s worth noting that Dalati, on April 11th, 2018, just days after the attack, months before this thread, had hinted that the scene was staged when he sent a now-deleted tweet that read, “Sick and tired of activists and rebels using corpses of dead children to stage emotive scenes for Western consumption. Then they wonder why some serious journos are questioning part of the narrative”
A few hours after the series of tweets, Dalati made his account private on account of Russian media using his tweets in headlines. They have requested he release the conclusive evidence, to which he has not obliged yet. With the occurrence of this OPCW debacle, now would be a strategic time to do so, if he does possess proof. The possibility that the canisters were manually placed before detonation would imply it was the rebels (backed by the US) who placed the canisters, as the attacks occurred in rebel-held areas. The hospital scene potentially being “staged” is highly important as it would have required “The White Helmets” to have participated in manufacturing the evidence.
The world knows Assad as a murderous dictator who has repeatedly launched chemical weapons on his own people in rebel-held areas, but is that the reality? The international spotlight turned to Syria in August of 2012, when president Obama warned the Syrian leader,“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus.” This “red-line declaration” was prompted by a question concerning whether the Syrian government could properly secure their chemical weapons and prevent them from falling in terrorists hands, as the Syrian government had not been seriously accused of using chemical weapons as of yet at this point in time—“Mr. President, could you update us on your latest thinking of where you think things are in Syria, and in particular, whether you envision using U.S. military, if simply for nothing else, the safe keeping of the chemical weapons, and if you’re confident that the chemical weapons are safe?”
It is worth noting that while Obama’s warning addressed Assad and “any player on the ground,” nothing was actually done when rebels used sarin gas two times in March and April, on government soldiers in the time between the red-line declaration and Assad’s first alleged sarin attack on Ghouta in August of 2013. Days after the Ghouta sarin attack, two more sarin gas attacks were launched by rebels on government soldiers and civilians. These four sarin attacks by the rebels on government forces were confirmed by the UN in the December 2013 report. Why would Assad have used chemical weapons after being explicitly warned by the commander in chief of the most powerful military in the world to not use such weapons? Would the rebels have more to gain if they perpetrated the attack, but blamed Assad for it, as they clearly had sarin gas and the willingness to use it.
To understand the situation better, one should be aware of a formerly classified DOD intelligence report written in 2012 that acknowledges the support of the opposition by western powers. The redacted report starts off outlining “the general situation” in a Lettered format:
- Internally, events are taking a clear sectarian turn
- The Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI(Al-Qaeda in Iraq) are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria
- The West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the Regime
Right off the bat, the document highlights the fact that the main groups driving the insurgency are Islamic extremists. It goes on to acknowledge our support for these extremist. Why would we be supporting groups of terrorists that include Al-Qaeda, the very enemy that had us still occupying Afghanistan to dismantle. The document gives a partial answer, stating in a later page that, “If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared salafist principality in eastern Syria, and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Assad regime, which is considered the strategic depth is Shia expansion(Iraq and Iran),” going on to say “The deterioration of the situation has dire consequences on the Iraqi situation and are as follows: This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI(Al-Qaeda in Iraq) to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi, and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one common enemy, the dissenters. Isi could declare an Islamic state through a union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”
The document shows not only that the US and allied powers helped create ISIS by knowingly supporting various terrorists groups, not only that they predicted an Islamic state would form as a consequence of their support, but that “that’s exactly what the supporting powers of the opposition want”—we were never funding “moderate rebels.” That was propaganda. It really is that simple. So on one hand we are fighting a “global war on terror,” while on the other we are supporting literal terror groups in order to stop “shia expansion?” We were funding jihadis from the start, as was Saudi Arabia and Qatar and other powers. Why? Why were we so focused on removing Assad behind the scenes through covert means before he even used chemical weapons? If we are willing to fund terrorist organizations to remove Assad, why is it inconceivable to many that western powers would be willing to get “moderate” rebels to perpetrate acts of terrorism and assign the blame on Assad. It should be obvious that this is not an ideological issue at this point, but a geopolitical and economic one. What motivation could western powers have to commit a series of “false flags” in Syria, using their rebel proxies who have a common goal: to remove Assad? It would not be the first time a false flag was executed as pretext to war, Vietnam and Iraq being two indisputable examples.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (nephew of assassinated president JFK) wrote an article on Syria titled, “Why The Arabs Don’t Want Us in Syria”, that hints at possible reasons. It is an article every citizen of the western governments involved in the conflict should read. It begins by giving context for Syria, describing how the the CIA overthrew Syria’s first democratically elected president, Al-Quwatli’, in 1949 for hesitating to approve the Trans-Arabian pipeline, an American project that would have linked the ports of Lebanon to the oil fields of Saudi Arabia. The CIA’s personal dictator, Al-Za’him “barely had time to dissolve parliament and approve the American pipeline before his countrymen deposed him, four and a half months into his regime.” In 1955 after a few years of counter-coups, The Syrian people re-elected Al-Quwatli, who survived numerous subsequent CIA coup d’etat attempts. He also mentions the noteworthy CIA coup d’etat in Iran in 1954, where the CIA overthrew the first democratically elected president of Iran, Mosaddegh, after he uncovered a British intelligence plot for a coup d’etat that was a result of him pushing to renegotiate oil contracts with British petroleum(colloquially known as BP). He expelled at British diplomats from the country, but let the CIA stay, despite is advisors warnings, because he trusted America not to destroy a democracy for economic interests. The CIA overthrew him and installed the Shah, and now they are trying to overthrow Syria’s democracy to allegedly counter “shia expansion” according to the 2012 intelligence report, the theocratic government that they birthed from their calculated destruction of Iran’s democracy. But RFK Jr. has acknowledged another potential motive for why western nations started funding the rebels before Assad was accused of chemical weapons, summarizing:
“In their view, our war against Bashar Assad did not begin with the peaceful civil protests of the Arab Spring in 2011. Instead it began in 2000, when Qatar proposed to construct a $10 billion, 1,500 kilometer pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. Qatar shares with Iran the South Pars/North Dome gas field, the world’s richest natural gas repository…Meanwhile, Qatar’s gas can reach European markets only if it is liquefied and shipped by sea, a route that restricts volume and dramatically raises costs. The proposed pipeline would have linked Qatar directly to European energy markets via distribution terminals in Turkey, which would pocket rich transit fees. The Qatar/Turkey pipeline would give the Sunni kingdoms of the Persian Gulf decisive domination of world natural gas markets and strengthen Qatar, America’s closest ally in the Arab world. Qatar hosts two massive American military bases and the U.S. Central Command’s Mideast headquarters. The EU, which gets 30 percent of its gas from Russia, was equally hungry for the pipeline, which would have given its members cheap energy and relief from Vladimir Putin’s stifling economic and political leverage. Turkey, Russia’s second largest gas customer, was particularly anxious to end its reliance on its ancient rival and to position itself as the lucrative transect hub for Asian fuels to EU markets. The Qatari pipeline would have benefited Saudi Arabia’s conservative Sunni monarchy by giving it a foothold in Shia-dominated Syria.”
Russia, on the other hand, was economically threatened by the pipeline, being that Europe is responsible for 70% of Russian oil export. In 2009, Assad announced he would reject the pipeline “to support the interests of our Russian ally” before announcing an “Islamic pipeline” that would run from the oilfields in Iran through Syria to the ports in Lebanon.
RFK Jr. goes on to remind us that “Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link. In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria. It is important to note that this was well before the Arab Spring-engendered uprising against Assad.”
The official narrative that we are going after Assad for human rights violations is preposterous. As veteran journalist Bob Perry is quoted saying in RFK Jr.’s article,”No one in the region has clean hands, but in the realms of torture, mass killings, [suppressing] civil liberties and supporting terrorism, Assad is much better than the Saudis.” Not to mention continuous Israeli war crimes. Qatar certainly did not spend 3 billion dollars training and arming insurgents at a US base in their country for humanitarian reasons, given the context of their proposed pipeline. The CIA weapon shipment routes to the “moderate rebels” were financed by Turkey, Qatar, and the Saudis. A pentagon funded Rand report from 2008 titled “Unfolding the future of the long war” suggested that “The United States and its local allies could use the nationalist jihadists to launch a proxy campaign” and “U.S. leaders could also choose to capitalize on the sustained Shia-Sunni conflict trajectory by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes against Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world … possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments” being that Persian oil- and gas deposits would remain a “strategic priority.”
RFK Jr. eloquently explains:
“As predicted, Assad’s overreaction to the foreign-made crisis—dropping barrel bombs onto Sunni strongholds and killing civilians—polarized Syria’s Shiite/Sunni divide and allowed U.S. policymakers to sell Americans the idea that the pipeline struggle was a humanitarian war.”
The consequences of bias and politicized watchdog investigations could be as potentially deadly as the chemical attacks themselves, if used as a false justification for war. The peace of the world relies on truthful accounts of precursors to war, as it wouldn’t be the first time false allegations lead to warfare. There needs to be a serious discussion of how and why the OPCW suppressed evidence that was vital to identifying the perpetrator of the Douma attack. BBC’s Dalati needs to come out with the evidence he claims he has of the Douma hospital scene being staged. The mainstream media and western governments need to address why they did not condemn the rebels for using chemical weapons. The government needs to address why it funded the same rebels committing terrorists attacks with chemical weapons, the same terrorists we were supposed to be seeking to entirely eradicate in the global war on terror. But chances are, they won’t address these issues, not anytime soon. The propaganda will most likely continue, and the best one can do to combat it is be aware of it and support independent media. It does not help the issue of propaganda that Julian Assange was recently arrested, setting a dangerous precedent for journalists everywhere who seek to expose war crimes.
Robert F. Kennedy concluded his essay so perfectly, anything but quoting it would be a downgrade.
“Let’s face it; what we call the “war on terror” is really just another oil war. We’ve squandered $6 trillion on three wars abroad and on constructing a national security warfare state at home since oilman Dick Cheney declared the “Long War” in 2001. The only winners have been the military contractors and oil companies that have pocketed historic profits, the intelligence agencies that have grown exponentially in power and influence to the detriment of our freedoms and the jihadists who invariably used our interventions as their most effective recruiting tool. We have compromised our values, butchered our own youth, killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people, subverted our idealism and squandered our national treasures in fruitless and costly adventures abroad. In the process, we have helped our worst enemies and turned America, once the world’s beacon of freedom, into a national security surveillance state and an international moral pariah.. America’s founding fathers warned Americans against standing armies, foreign entanglements and, in John Quincy Adams’ words, “going abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” Those wise men understood that imperialism abroad is incompatible with democracy and civil rights at home. The Atlantic Charter echoed their seminal American ideal that each nation should have the right to self-determination. Over the past seven decades, the Dulles brothers, the Cheney gang, the neocons and their ilk have hijacked that fundamental principle of American idealism and deployed our military and intelligence apparatus to serve the mercantile interests of large corporations and particularly, the petroleum companies and military contractors that have literally made a killing from these conflicts. It’s time for Americans to turn America away from this new imperialism and back to the path of idealism and democracy. We should let the Arabs govern Arabia and turn our energies to the great endeavor of nation building at home. We need to begin this process, not by invading Syria, but by ending the ruinous addiction to oil that has warped U.S. foreign policy for half a century.”
On an endnote, it is worth saying that that presidential candidate/ U.S. representative of Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard, has introduced a bill to the house that aims to “stop the U.S. government from using taxpayer dollars to directly or indirectly support groups who are allied with and supporting terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda in their war to overthrow the Syrian government.” It is sad that such a bill need be introduced, but what is just as tragic is the fact that it has not yet been passed. Right now it stands as introduced, and has been referred to the committees on foreign affairs and intelligence. Gabbard is the only presidential candidate with a strong antiwar stance on Syria, and has been the strongest on vocalizing opposition to the overthrow of Venezuela’s democracy, and has pointed out Venezuela has the world’s largest confirmed oil reserves and had recently dropped the petrodollar prior to D.C. putting Maduro and the democracy in their sights. A vote for Tulsi Gabbard is a vote to oppose the forceful overthrow of the democracies of Syria and Venezuela.
Opinion by Mitchell McGuire | Submitted by author for publication
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