A former director of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Jose Bustani, who had been invited to brief the UN Security Council on the cover-up scandal involving the now-disputed Syrian chemical weapon attacks has been blocked from testifying by the U.S., UK, and France.
These nations collectively bombed sovereign Syrian military infrastructure following the events at Douma, and their standing in the way of Bustani’s testimony is telling, especially as recent leaks from the UK Foreign Office have shown the enormous degree to which both the U.S. and especially the UK were involved in spinning, distorting, and propagandizing the image of the Syrian Civil War in western and Arab news media.
The OPCW is an independent body of experts in various sciences such as engineering, chemical biology, and ballistics that has been wracked by controversies after a number of its investigators spoke out against the organization’s report on the alleged chemical weapon attacks in Douma, Syria on April 7th 2018.
After several inspectors claimed the report was not only faulty, but that fraudulent and sinister activity, perhaps spurred on by certain state parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, was present surrounding the investigation, they were dismissed, fired, or placed on leave.
Their report of the Douma site, which came to a much different conclusion than one that had been released earlier, was found according to the whistleblowers, to have been suppressed and covered up.
Jose Bustani was the OPCW chief from 1997 to 2002 when his position at the top of the Nobel Prize-winning organization was terminated under severe pressure from the United States which included personal threats from John Bolton. Bustani had at the time been facilitating inspections in Iraq which members of the Bush presidency imagined might stand in the way of their illegal invasion and occupation.
The testimony that was never heard in the UN Sec. Council chamber was acquired and published in full by the Grayzone.
In it Bustani describes his concerns that an organization which he regards as having a sterling record of impartiality in the face of pressure from member states to the Chemical Weapons Convention has succumbed to that pressure, and is demonstrating behavior that is “unacceptable,” and “severely compromising”.
In October 2019 I was invited by the Courage Foundation, an international organisation that ‘supports those who risk life or liberty to make significant contributions to the historical record’, to participate in a panel along with a number of eminent international figures from the fields of international law, disarmament, military operations, medicine, and intelligence. The panel was convened to hear the concerns of an OPCW official over the conduct of the Organization’s investigation into the Douma incident.
The expert provided compelling and documentary evidence of highly questionable, and potentially fraudulent conduct in the investigative process. In a joint public statement, the Panel was, and I quote, ‘unanimous in expressing [its] alarm over unacceptable practices in the investigation of the alleged chemical attack in Douma’. The Panel further called on the OPCW, ‘to permit all inspectors who took part in the Douma investigation to come forward and report their differing observations in an appropriate forum of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, in fulfilment of the spirit of the Convention.’
Almost one year later, the OPCW has still not responded to these requests, nor to the ever-growing controversy surrounding the Douma investigation. Rather, it has hidden behind an impenetrable wall of silence and opacity, making any meaningful dialogue impossible. On the one occasion when it did address the inspectors’ concerns in public, it was only to accuse them of breaching confidentiality.
The inspectors Bustani is referring to are Dr. Ian Henderson, and a whistleblower known as “Inspector B” whose own report on the Douma attacks found that “…these findings establish beyond reasonable doubt that the alleged chemical attack in Douma on 7 April 2018 was staged”.
“At great risk to themselves, they have dared to speak out against possible irregular behavior in your organization, and it is without doubt in your, in the organisation’s, and in the world’s interest that you hear them out,” read Bustani’s testimonies regarding the inspectors.
Building a case for war
Always one to use the UN when they find it convenient, and to ignore them such as when it inconveniences him, Sec. of State Mike Pompeo alleged that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad had, once again, committed the unspeakable crime of using chemical weapons against his own civilians in September of 2019 in the province of Idlib.
“The facts, however, are clear: the Assad regime itself has conducted almost all verified chemical weapons attacks that have taken place in Syria—a conclusion the United Nations has reached over and over again,” reads the secretary’s statement.
However since it was the U.S. and the UK using the UN to actively block testimony to the contrary, it shouldn’t be acceptable for Pompeo to use the international body as a Casus Belli.
At that time last year, Senator Jim Risch (R – ID), along with other republicans including Pompeo, was calling for a renewal of the Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act which allows the president to make enormous unilateral aggressions upon the Syrian regime, such as sanctions and cruise missile strikes, should he feel they Syrian people are at risk of suffering from chemical or conventional weapons.
For a war that was never declared, waged secretly by CIA-supported Salafi militias, and in which every fact was twisted by an international cadre of media agencies, the legislation gives freedom to interventionist politicians to act as if it had been, and so it’s not surprising that the U.S. has made efforts to ensure that Bustani’s testimony, like the covered-up report his beloved inspectors blew the whistle on, never sees the light of day.