The British Government’s Legal Justification for Bombing is Entirely False and Without Merit 570

UPDATE Perhaps you will forgive me for pointing out that the argument in the legal opinion by Professor Dapo Akande of Oxford University, published today by the Labour Party, is identical in every respect and in detail to the analysis I published yesterday. So for all the trolls who claimed I do not know international law…

I have published Prof Akande’s summary at the end of this post.

Theresa May has issued a long legal justification for UK participation in an attack on a sovereign state. This is so flawed as to be totally worthless. It specifically claims as customary international law practices which are rejected by a large majority of states and therefore cannot be customary international law. It is therefore secondary and of no consequence that the facts and interpretations the argument cites in this particular case are erroneous, but it so happens they are indeed absolutely erroneous.

Let me put before you the government’s legal case in full:

1.This is the Government’s position on the legality of UK military action to alleviate the extreme humanitarian suffering of the Syrian people by degrading the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability and deterring their further use, following the chemical weapons attack in Douma on 7 April 2018.

2.The Syrian regime has been killing its own people for seven years. Its use of chemical weapons, which has exacerbated the human suffering, is a serious crime of international concern, as a breach of the customary international law prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, and amounts to a war crime and a crime against humanity.

3.The UK is permitted under international law, on an exceptional basis, to take measures in order to alleviate overwhelming humanitarian suffering. The legal basis for the use of force is humanitarian intervention, which requires three conditions to be met:

(i) there is convincing evidence, generally accepted by the international community as a whole, of extreme humanitarian distress on a large scale, requiring immediate and urgent relief;

(ii) it must be objectively clear that there is no practicable alternative to the use of force if lives are to be saved; and

(iii) the proposed use of force must be necessary and proportionate to the aim of relief of humanitarian suffering and must be strictly limited in time and in scope to this aim (i.e. the minimum necessary to achieve that end and for no other purpose).

4.The UK considers that military action met the requirements of humanitarian intervention in the circumstances of the present case:

(i) The Syrian regime has been using chemical weapons since 2013. The attack in Eastern Damascus on 21 August 2013 left over 800 people dead. The Syrian regime failed to implement its commitment in 2013 to ensure the destruction of its chemical weapons capability. The chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017 killed approximately 80 people and left hundreds more injured. The recent attack in Douma has killed up to 75 people, and injured over 500 people. Over 400,000 people have now died over the course of the conflict in Syria, the vast majority civilians. Over half of the Syrian population has been displaced, with over 13 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. The repeated, lethal use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity. On the basis of what we know about the Syrian regime’s pattern of use of chemical weapons to date, it was highly likely that the regime would seek to use chemical weapons again, leading to further suffering and loss of civilian life as well as the continued displacement of the civilian population.

(ii) Actions by the UK and its international partners to alleviate the humanitarian suffering caused by the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime at the UN Security Council have been repeatedly blocked by the regime’s and its allies’ disregard for international norms, including the international law prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. This last week, Russia vetoed yet another resolution in the Security Council, thwarting the establishment of an impartial investigative mechanism. Since 2013, neither diplomatic action, tough sanctions, nor the US strikes against the Shayrat airbase in April 2017 have sufficiently degraded Syrian chemical weapons capability or deterred the Syrian regime from causing extreme humanitarian distress on a large scale through its persistent use of chemical weapons. There was no practicable alternative to the truly exceptional use of force to degrade the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their further use by the Syrian regime in order to alleviate humanitarian suffering.

(iii) In these circumstances, and as an exceptional measure on grounds of overwhelming humanitarian necessity, military intervention to strike carefully considered, specifically identified targets in order effectively to alleviate humanitarian distress by degrading the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability and deterring further chemical weapons attacks was necessary and proportionate and therefore legally justifiable. Such an intervention was directed exclusively to averting a humanitarian catastrophe caused by the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, and the action was the minimum judged necessary for that purpose.

14 April 2018

The first thing to note is that this “legal argument” cites no authority. It does not quote the UN Charter, any Security Council Resolution or any international treaty or agreement of any kind which justifies this action. This is because there is absolutely nothing which can be quoted – all the relevant texts say that an attack on another state is illegal without authorisation of the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

Nor does the government quote any judgement of the International Court of Justice, International Criminal Court or any other international legal authority. This is important because rather than any treatment, the government makes a specific claim its actions are justified by customary international law, which means accepted state practice. But the existence of such state practice is usually proven through existing court judgements, and there are no judgements that endorse the approach taken by the government in its argument.

The three “tests” set out under para 3 as to what is permitted under international law are not in fact a statement of anything other than the UK’s own position. These “tests” are specifically quoted by Ola Engdahl in Bailliet and Larsen (ed) “Promoting Peace Through International Law” (Oxford University Press 2015). Engdahl notes:

The UK position, that it is permitted to take coercive action under a doctrine of humanitarian intervention when certain conditions are met, is a minority view and does not reflect lex data on the prohibition of the use of force in international relations as expressed in article 2(4) of the UN Charter.

That is undeniably true, and as it is equally undeniably true that a minority view cannot be customary international law, the British government position is utterly devoid of merit.

The Government argument is a classic statement of the doctrine of “liberal intervention”, which is of course the mantra adopted by neo-conservatives over the last 30 years to justify resource grabs. It is not in any way accepted as customary international law. It is a doctrine opposed by a very large number of states, and certainly by the great majority of African, South American and Asian states. (African states have occasionally advocated the idea that UN Security Council authorisation may be replaced by the endorsement of a UN recognised regional authority such as ECOWAS or the African Union. This was the Nigerian position over Liberia 20 years ago. The Security Council authorised ECOWAS action anyway, so no discord arose. The current Nigerian government does not support intervention without security council authorisation).

The examples of “liberal intervention” most commonly used by its advocates are Sierra Leone and Libya. My book “The Catholic Orangemen of Togo” details my experiences as UK Representative at the Sierra Leone peace talks, and I hope will convince you that the accepted story of that war is a lie. Libya too has been a disaster, and it is not a precedent for the government’s legal argument as the western forces employed were operating under cover of a UN Security Council Resolution authorising force, albeit only to enforce a no fly zone.

In fact, if the British government were to offer examples of state practice to attempt to prove that the doctrine it outlines is indeed customary international law, the most appropriate recent examples are Russian military intervention in Ukraine and Georgia. I oppose those Russian interventions as I oppose the UK/US/French actions now. It is not a question of “sides” it is a question of the illegality of military action against other states.

The rest of the government’s argument is entirely hypothetical, because as the liberal intervention doctrine is not customary international law these arguments cannot justify intervention.

But the evidence that Assad used chemical weapons against Douma is non-existent, and the OPCW did not conclude that the Assad government was responsible for the attack on Khan Sheikhoun. There is no evidence whatsoever that military action was urgently required to avert another such “immediate” attack. Nor is it true that the UK’s analysis of the situation is “generally accepted” by the international community, as witness China and Russia voting together in the Security Council yesterday to condemn the attack.

So the British government sets up its own “three tests” which have no legal standing and are entirely a British concoction, yet still manages to fail them.

Dapo Akande, Professor of Public International Law, Oxford University, gave this opinion for the Labour Party…

In the opinion I reach the following conclusions:
1. Contrary to the position of the government, neither the UN charter nor customary international law permits military action on the basis of the doctrine of humanitarian intervention. There is very little support by states for such an exception to the prohibition of the use of force. The UK is one of very few states that advocates for such a legal principle but the vast majority of states have explicitly rejected it.
2. The legal position advanced by the government ignores the structure of the international law rules relating to the use of force, in particular, because a customary international law rule does not prevail over the rule in the United Nations charter prohibiting the use of force. To accept the position advocated by the government would be to undermine the supremacy of the UN charter.
3. Even if there was a doctrine of humanitarian intervention in international law, the strikes against Syria would not appear to meet the tests set out by the government. The action taken by the government was not directed at bringing “immediate and urgent relief” with regard to the specific evil it sought to prevent, and was taken before the inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were able to reach the affected area.
4. If the position taken by the government were to be accepted by states globally, it would allow for individual assessments of when force was necessary to achieve humanitarian ends, with the risk of abuse. It is because of the humanitarian suffering that will ensue from such abusive uses of force, that other states and many scholars have been reluctant to endorse the doctrine of humanitarian action.

570 thoughts on “The British Government’s Legal Justification for Bombing is Entirely False and Without Merit

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  • Ottomanboi

    Things like this would turn even a ‘moderate’ into a jihadi. The West is purblind in its arrogance.

  • Paul Barbara

    ‘Rebel group accusing Assad of gas attack ‘USED CHEMICAL WEAPONS’ against Kurds’:
    PUBLISHED: 03:11, Thu, Apr 12, 2018 | UPDATED: 04:42, Thu, Apr 12, 2018

    ‘Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) was formerly known as Liwa al-Islam (Brigade of Islam) and is a coalition of Salafist Islamist militant groups based in the Douma and Eastern Ghouta regions of the Syrian capital of Damascus.

    Douma was the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack where up to 43 people were killed and it has been blamed on the Syrian regime.

    But according to reports from news outlet Kurdistan 24, the group admitted it used chemical weapons in a mainly Kurdish populated area in the city of Aleppo, northern Syria in April 2016.

    In an official statement, Jaish al-Islam said: “One of the field commanders in Aleppo used weapons that he was not authorised to use in these kinds of confrontations.”

    The group claimed the brigade commander was summoned to a military court, adding: “He has been referred to the Military Justice to receive the proper punishment……”

    And just look at the Comments! Even most Express commenters believe there is no proof Assad used them, and most point to the headchoppers.

    ‘ISIS Used Chemical Arms at Least 52 Times in Syria and Iraq, Report Says’:

    ‘The Islamic State has used chemical weapons, including chlorine and sulfur mustard agents, at least 52 times on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq since it swept to power in 2014, according to a new independent analysis.

    More than one-third of those chemical attacks have come in and around Mosul, the Islamic State stronghold in northern Iraq, according to the assessment by the IHS Conflict Monitor, a London-based intelligence collection and analysis service.

    The IHS conclusions, which are based on local news reports, social media and Islamic State propaganda, mark the broadest compilation of chemical attacks in the conflict. American and Iraqi military officials have expressed growing alarm over the prospect of additional chemical attacks as the allies press to regain both Mosul and Raqqa, the Islamic State capital in Syria……’

    Even the New York Times quotes a London based report of the IHS saying Islamic State has used CW’s 52 times.

  • Radar O’Reilly

    The powerful State broadcaster BBC Radio Four accidentally interviewed a sensible person this morning on the Toady program . Around 07:40 – 07:42. A very nice piece.
    She was a UK university academic, ostensibly on Today to be hammered about supporting Putin/Assad as per The Thunderers’ soft assassination of UK university academics this weekend . Unfortunately for Martha, the academic refused to be interrupted and spoke rationally, factually and non-Putin/Assad supportingly – whilst still making it clear that a very large proportion of the UK think.
    She was of course cut-off, run out of time in order to glorify war or whatever the agenda is today. On Radio 2, Chris Evans is expecting.

    When’s the next election?

    • IanA

      Yes I heard that and thought the same thing. Cannon fodder for those who might dare to question the perceived analysis.

      Only made me think that Martha Kearney is no Roland Freisler…

    • Salford Lad

      Lets cut to the chase and avoid being deflected , attempting analysis of the farcical hoax chemical poisoning at Salisbury and Douma.
      The hoaxes were successful in that they gave the flimsiest of excuses for a 101 missile attack on Syria.
      The hoaxes were promoted relentlessly by a supine Media, both print and TV.
      Our planet and families were put at risk of Nuclear annihilation by a cadre of insane politicians and their controlled Propaganda machine. There ought to be consequences for these war crimes.
      Teresa May is a war criminal by any definition of the term ,as are her associates in this fiasco . The Media and talking heads were complicit and promoted this illegal attack. They are war criminals all for promoting ‘crimes against humanity’ as per Nuremberg Statutes
      This rabid Russophobia promoted by the Media must end, before leading to the inevitable Nuclear Holocaust.
      A cull is needed of all the participants in this disaster.
      Public enquiries by the usual Establishment puppet ,signifying nothing is insufficient. We have long gone past that signpost..
      We are now at survival stage. There will not be a second chance, or ‘ I told you so’. moment ,when the Nuclear weapons fly.

      • Xavi

        When a nuclear power is surrounded by its adversary’s troops, bases and missles and its leader is relentlessly demonized and accused of internally undermining the adversary .. under these circumstances, only a true fool would content themselves there is no chance of nuclear war.

    • Jones

      ^^ ”when’s the next election”
      if it was tomorrow it would be too long to wait, i’m tired of confidence tricksters running the UK.

  • jazza

    If there was any sense of justice at the United Nations there would be debate about and action taken upon:

    1. the knowledge that the USA and UK particularly, are providing the funding, training and military assistance to known terrorist groups? It is known, for example, that the BBC via its so called charity BBC Media Action is sponsoring the undermining of elected governments through re-education programmes etc in those countries.
    2. the knowledge that Israel has carte blanche to do what it likes and is never held to account

    At the time of the latest pantomime – Israel is once again murdering Palestinians at will and nothing happens, Israel has again bombed Syria and nothing has happened, the Saudis are obliterating Yemen and nothing has happened – all sponsored by the USA and UK

    Nothing is going to change until and unless these issues are dealt with. USA and UK are not in any position to take the morale / diplomatic/ humanitarian/ just high ground – their risible justifications and overturning of all laws and treaties is in itself sufficient for these rogue nations to be tried in any decent court of law. The UN is compromised and I just want to get Nicky Haley OFF my tv screen

  • Paul Barbara

    @ Capella April 16, 2018 at 09:29
    ‘If the Skripals were attacked by BZ that explains the reported symptoms at the time – they felt disoriented, surreal, they appeared to be hallucinting etc.
    Julia Skripal’s “statement” issued by the MET inadvertantly corroborates that. She thanks the people of Salisbury for assisting her when she was “incapacitated”. BZ is an incapacitating agent. Maybe the agent who wrote the statement unwittingly gave the game away.

    Nothing about the BZ and pure A234 on the MSM yet. But we are warned that Russia will disseminate misinformation. That pesky St Petersburg troll factory again.’

    BUT, the really odd thing is why BZ at all? Russia does not make BZ, but Britain does, so how come this hasn’t hit the headlines (rhetorical question)? And why did the OPCW not blast this info out to the world? It makes a nonsense of the that Russia is the culprit.

    • Blissex

      «Russia does not make BZ, but Britain does,»

      That’s a ridiculous argument, the converse of the argument that only Russia makes “novichok”: all these chemicals have well known formulas and they seem easy to make for anybody with an organic chemistry PhD. The only real difficulty is to make them *safely* that is without spilling/contaminating yourself, as they are indeed quite nasty, but chemistry PhDs handle routinely extremely poisonous stuff of all sorts in decently equipped labs, and most (not all…) survive if they are very careful. Bad things still happen, many chemistry departments at many universities have burned down at least once, and several have burned down 2-3 times.

  • Harry Law

    The UK did not comply with the OPCW convention Article 1X ‘Consultation Cooperation and Fact Finding’. First when it gave an ultimatum to Russia 36 hours? to answer allegations shortly after the Salisbury incident. Then before the bombing began, the US, UK, France should have demanded the on site inspections of suspected sites in Syria, they did not in breach of the convention. …….
    Procedures for challenge inspections 8.
    Each State Party has the right to request an on-site challenge inspection of any facility or location in the territory or in any other place under the jurisdiction or control of any other State Party for the sole purpose of clarifying and resolving any questions concerning possible noncompliance with the provisions of this Convention, and to have this inspection conducted anywhere without delay by an inspection team designated by the Director-General and in accordance with the Verification Annex.

  • Sharp Ears

    James O’Brien, the fake socialist/humanitarian, read out Michael Rosen’s ‘Infected with Superiority’ on LB|C this morning.

    ‘Infected with superiority
    People who’ve led lives growing up in suburbs, in comfortable homes, going to schools with glorious playing fields, playing in orchestras, playing in teams, find themselves in power in the parliament of the UK, equipped as it is with rockets and bombs, with a history of strutting across huge areas of the earth’s surface, ruling over millions, still talking of ‘spheres of influence’ and ‘our strategic interests’, acting as if it is a right and a duty to decide what is or is not a humanitarian crisis, what is or is not the humanitarian crisis that it has to ‘respond to’, what is or is not the legitimate target to fire rockets and bombs at…and journalists and politicians lower down the food chain, sit and debate the finer points of this as if, yes, the UK does have some special historical valid role to act as one of the world’s police, not seeing how deeply corrupting this is, of the country, of them, of us, how infected they are with this sense of superiority over billions of other people…when I watch them on TV talking it’s as if this superiority is in their voices, in their eyes, seeped into their skin, like it’s so deep in them that we can’t actually see it, so we listen to them and watch them as if it’s something right and proper and decent when in truth we now it’s part of a brutal system of maintaining power and control over regions of the globe and over millions of people, and nothing whatsoever to do with – as they claim – poor, suffering people. Poor, suffering people – millions of whom they make poor and make suffer elsewhere…. ‘

    There is no irony in O’Brien saying shortly afterwards that he had a ‘intuition’ that we did the right thing on Friday, ie sending cruise missiles on to Syria, but he doesn’t know from whence his ‘intuition’ came or whether it is right. He is all things to all people. Clever that. Total hypocrisy..

  • Emily

    There are already question marks over the OPCW and their impartiality.
    It looks like they could have deliberately tried to keep the Swiss evidence of BZ away from the Russians and wider public.
    They were certainly very obliging in their decision to only look for the one nerve agent.
    We are just hearing on Sky news that the OPCW is claiming the Russians and Syrians are denying them access to the site of the ‘attack’.
    Russia is denying it….
    Watch this space…..

    • Alexandra Bader

      they try to explain that they get more samples to find the “right” one – seems like if your handbag is stolen and you should point at the thief among some others at a police station

    • Thomas_Stockmann

      This is a translation of the main part of an article from the Neue Zürcher Zeitung April 15th which can be found at:

      Under the title “No doubt about the result of the Nowitschok”, the NZZ [6th April] had a conversation with the head of the chemistry department of the laboratory, Stefan Mogl. He said that he had full confidence in the outcome of the British military laboratory Porton Down, according to which Skripal had been exposed to the substance Nowitschok. That Spiez continues to cling to this assessment sounds like an indirect denial of Lavrov’s statements. But would this mean that the Russian foreign minister has brazenly lied about the matter with the western agent BZ? And why does not the lab just say that?

      The explanation for this is probably simpler than the confusion suggests. But you have to know how the OPCW analysis works. Much – not just Lavrov’s revelation – suggests that the Spiez Laboratory was actually involved in the investigations. It is one of the most prestigious in its field, regularly receives top marks in periodic reviews by the OPCW, has recently completed a mission in Syria poison gas testing, and is still in a neutral country. Nothing would be more obvious than to entrust it to the case of Skripal.

      Real and wrong samples
      There is also evidence that Spiez has actually found the BZ agent. But that is not a contradiction to Mogl’s statement that he trusts the British Nowitschok result. For one of the rigid control mechanisms of the OPCW is that the reference laboratories each receive several sets of samples. It is typical that the OPCW not only sends the “real” sample, but also negative and positive control samples. Although these are similar, they contain no chemical warfare agent in the first case, and in the second case, another, which was added to the sample. This ensures that the commissioned laboratory works flawlessly and does not know what the “real” sample is. If Spiez of the OPCW not only reported the finding Nowitschok, but also the presence of BZ, this can be explained most easily by the use of such a control sample. For the OPCW, there was no reason to publicly report the BZ findings – she knew that this was only a check-up.

      The Hague-based organization for banning chemical weapons will allegedly not comment on Russian allegations until next Wednesday. If the above statement is confirmed, it could be concluded that Russia has lost all inhibitions about spreading half-truths and falsehoods, undermining even prestigious international institutions such as the OPCW. The fact that Moscow’s propaganda fantasies have no limits has, however, recently been demonstrated when Russia set out to accuse Britain of authoring the poison gas attack in the Syrian city of Duma.

      • Roman_D

        Well, it makes sense. Yet there is a contradiction. If the swiss lab does not know which probe is real how can they state “…..Stefan Mogl. He said that he had full confidence in the outcome of the British military laboratory Porton Down, according to which Skripal had been exposed to the substance Nowitschok.”
        How do they know which probe he was exposed to? How come they confirm the fact of exposure? Or is this a misinterpretation of journalists?

        • Thomas_Stockmann

          Good point. Also, why was he giving an interview at all, if Spiez laboratory is prevented from commenting by its obligations to the OPCW?

        • Jo Dominich

          Good question Roman. It seems to me that the Swiss lab is not actually denying it’s findings. I cannot see that Lavrov would go public with this unless he believed the information he had received was genuine. The propaganda and anti-russian hysteria has been so in your face, it’s hard to get an independent view.

      • Dave G

        I though Lavrov was talking about one sample which contained both BZ and the novichok.

          • Dave G

            If he’s lying, it should be easy to show that. So let’s see an announcement from the OPCW that the sample didn’t contain BZ.

        • Thomas_Stockmann

          I got that impression though I suppose it’s not totally clear from what he read out. Besides, the Russians already know about positive control samples as they are clearly identified in the full technical report. An example of this type of report for the Um Housh incident (use of sulfur mustard) can be found on the web. In that case, where sulfur mustard use was suspected, the positive control for the biomedical samples was designed to contain sulfur mustard. I am not clear why when testing for a Novichok, the positive control should contain BZ, but maybe a chemist can explain.

      • Tom Welsh

        Yes. So of the two agents detected – “Novichok-like” and BZ – one of them may have been spurious.

        Judging from the symptoms reported, it must have been BZ with which the Skripals and the police detective were poisoned. Everything fits: non-lethal, loss of muscular control, coma for a few days, complete recovery.

        Whereas “Novichok” – or anything of that kind – would have killed anyone who came into contact with it, stone cold dead.

    • oah

      Of you work for an international organisation you have to be vrry careful not to stray too far from the is line..i know i questioned it at a different organisation and the renewal of my contract was vetoed.

      • Tom Welsh

        I was appalled and horrified the other day to read the suggestion that FUKUS attacked Syria before the OPCW inspection because, after the attack, the inspectors would not dare to report that they found no trace of chemical weapons.

        I was horrified partly because it had never occurred to me that elite professional forensic scientists would completely falsify their reports just because of political pressure. If they ever do, then obviously their evidence is completely worthless.

        I was also horrified because I should have seen that possibility, but failed to – because I am still too innocent to understand the depths to which political creatures will descend. To me, as to many of us, truth is the ultimate value – and I think of scientists as those human beings to whom objective truth is most precious.

        Perhaps that is why Theresa May has agreed to a parliamentary debate after the attack – when it obviously cannot do any good. Maybe her twisted reasoning is that MPs will think that the harm has been done, so there is no point in their “rocking the boat” and making “the team” look bad.

        If so, a curse upon them all.

  • Alexandra Bader

    very well done, i just recommended this and other articles from you to the Austrian Government who supports the airstrikes without any proof. They must show the “facts” and intel reports which are the base of their decision. And I suggest that they help Syria with medicine after a pharmazeutical laboratory was bombed as a “chemical weapons factory”.

    I try to inform the Austrians and the Germans about the real story and geopolitical background f.e. here:

    • Jack

      Great job. The western states are brainwashed, we have a bigger indoctrined class of people than during the cold war.
      Everywhere propaganda for war, against syria, against russians. Its scary and it leads to war, Syria is the first step.

  • Paul Barbara

    O/T but a break from ‘doom and gloom’:
    ‘Pair of mangoes fetches record-matching Y400,000 at season’s 1st auction’:
    That’s over £2,600! While we have fits over our lying, War Criminal government, the Japanese eat rather expensive mangoes.
    Perhaps they’re saner than us – mangoes don’t send your blood pressure through the roof, unlike fuming about our Luciferian ‘Great Leaders’.

  • Mochyn69

    Ian Blackford, SNP leader at Westminster told Sky News he had received a government briefing on the Syrian air attacks, and on the basis of what he had been told, was satisfied that this has been the regime in Syria that has been responsible for this.


    • nevermind

      I suppose this is what happens when you get involved in Westmonster politics, innuendo and lies. I expect the SNP to ‘grudgingly’ accept everything the Tories are doing.

    • Hatuey

      It’s the New SNP. Emphasis is on proving they can be trusted and color coordinated blouses and heels.

      Sturgeon couldn’t be more weak than she has been over the last 2 years, that’s the good news.

      I argue with my Scottish Independence supporting friends over this all the time, so no need for anyone to take pot shots at me.

      Brexit was a massive opportunity for the SNP and Sturgeon blew it. Now they are supporting airstrikes that we all know are based on lies and could end the world.

      To clarify, I’m definitely not with Nicola.

  • Agent Green

    No need to respond. Assad is in power, has control on most of the country and his military operations (including air) started up again today just as normal.

    Russian objectives are being met nearly completely. The Western hegemon is in its death spasm. Putin is far too canny to be lured into open confrontation at this point – it’s what the West wants. They’ve been trying to lure Russia into direct military confrontation in Ukraine and now Syria. Russia’s job is to avoid this for as long as possible.

  • Olaf S

    Trump again talks of pulling out the troops. Only this time there is a sinister undertone: No retaliation against these troops will be possible upon the planned continuation of rocket attacks. ”Russia won in Syria” is an enormous red cloth to the Americans. They cannot live with that. (Add to this the eternal goal of removing Assad).
    An armada is on its way. The remaing buildings and ruins of the Syrian cities will soon be turned into new rubble.(The old rubble will be turned into dust & displaced rubble). Very sad. No wait! I just had this great idea: What if the civilized countries of the world threatened the U.S. with sanctions?!

    • nevermind

      you are thinking alike Olaf, we need public sanctions, the equivalent of full spectrum BDS, not that I ever liked Hershey bars, coke or what they sell as doughnuts.
      Lavrov sounds p…ed enough to join up to it straight away.
      I would wish that Germany could join in citing that they feel unable to provide any more consumer goods to America until it joins and signs the OPCW treaty.
      As for the rogues with no borders, no more Dolphin class subs for you Moishe until you outlaw chemical concoctions. Any research that is not disclosed to the OPCW, should result in automatic limited sanctions and a massive fine.

      Macron, with multiple public disorders and some strange reformist religious ideas, must have had some sort of glorifying incarnation, de Gaulle was much smarter and taller than he is, and he was equally opposed for his ideas. I think Merkel will have wards, rather than take his example and current explanations serious.

    • Tom Welsh

      Modern weapons render the armada rather a double-edged asset. Even F-15s and F-18Es travel at no more than about Mach 1 (if they have a long way to go). The Russians can easily detect when each aircraft takes off. If the aircraft appear “highly likely” (I appreciate that phrase more and more) to be preparing an attack on Syria, a hypersonic anti-ship missile travelling at Mach 10 will sink their carrier long before they return to it.

      How would the US aircraft fare against batteries of S-400, S-300, S-200, Buk, Pantsir, etc. – with the Russian EW systems in reserve?

      Moving aircraft carriers into the Mediterranean is asking Russia to sink them. But what would the USA gain from that? It cannot harm Russia by conventional means, and nobody will gain from thermonuclear war.

      With any luck, though, if Trump keeps on pushing his luck, sooner or later someone from the armed forces will simply shoot him. (Or lock him up as insane). Even soldiers have families, and children – whom they do not wish to be vaporized.

  • Ottomanboi

    The old European empires were motivated by a sense of racial superiority.
    The 21st century equivalents still exhibit that characteristic.
    Why are these insults tolerated? What is the purpose of the UN?

    • IM

      A hallucinogenic agent is used as a treatment of something that has entirely different biochemistry??! Sure! Ever tried to treat a broken leg with antacid?

      Incidentally, it seems that the Swiss’ lab’s concerns about the concentrations of A234 as highlighted by Lavrov are bourn out: A234 is known to be unstable. [1]

      1. Handbook of Toxicology of Chemical Warfare Agents, Academic Press 2015, p340: on google books

      • Blissex

        Look the whole story smells bad: all these compounds get contaminated and also decay, by design: on a battlefield you want a poison that acts as quickly as possible and kills as many as possible so it kills the enemy troops, and then decays into something harmless so your own troops can advance into the enemy lines. A poison that decays rapidly once used is also very desirable to limit the damage in case of mishandling and accidental release in your own areas.
        Conceivably some morons might think that some long-lasting poisons could be used for area denial, but the essence of area denial is to deny that area to the enemy, not to yourself too.

        So any samples collected and analyzed later than a few hours at most after the poisoning would be rather useless in my non-technical opinion.
        So my impression is that it is quite amazing that the Conservative government has put such a deep and long lasting cloud of secrecy on every detail of this “russian attack against Salisbury with WMDs”, because there should be a mountain of very easily demonstrated evidence as samples were collected immediately, and there are 3 witnesses to this “atrocity” who should be paraded with their harrowing story for a Q-and-A session, not hidden away.

    • Hatuey

      The evidence suggests the Skripals were exposed to BZ before they got treatment… eye witnesses talk of them acting in a way that is consistent with the effects of BZ.

    • Tom Welsh

      As it happens, their reported symptoms and recovery coincide closely with the effects of BZ. And are completely different from those of “Novichok” or anything of the kind.

  • Charles

    Wiltshire Air Ambulance issue a strange statement:

    “Salisbury Incident

    Wiltshire Air Ambulance Charitable Trust continues to work closely with all partner agencies to support the ongoing investigation.

    Wiltshire Air Ambulance Charitable Trust continues to provide emergency critical care to the public of Wiltshire and surrounding counties.

    Wiltshire Air Ambulance Charitable Trust is immensely proud of our aircrew and wider team for all their professionalism, dedication and support of each other during these unprecedented events”

  • Resident Dissident

    Craig repeatedly says that the government statement specifically claims customary practice as support for the doctrine of humanitarian intervention – it does not, the statement which Craig publishes in full only specifi9cally uses customary as follows:
    “The Syrian regime has been killing its own people for seven years. Its use of chemical weapons, which has exacerbated the human suffering, is a serious crime of international concern, as a breach of the customary international law prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, and amounts to a war crime and a crime against humanity.”

    If anything the requirement in this regard is even more specific than “customary”. This is not the first time recently that Craig has twisted words to suit his polemics – and I suspect he knows it.

    • Emily

      “The Syrian regime has been killing its own people for seven years. Its use of chemical weapons, which has exacerbated the human suffering, is a serious crime of international concern, as a breach of the customary international law prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, and amounts to a war crime and a crime against humanity.”

      What then of the massive war crime and act of genocide being committed by Saudi Arabia against the people – the children – of Yemen? Its ten thousand times worse than any Syrian alleged criminality.
      They are bombing, starving and letting thousands die of cholera and other disease..
      It is blockading a people. ,
      Perhaps, Resident Dissident, you would care to explain why no action against the Saudis is taking place for the mass murder – indeed slaughter of an entire people.
      However the same neo lib/neo con crazies jumping up and down in pretend outrage over an alleged attack of a few dozen in Syria – are in fact – far from taking action against Saudi Arabia – they are, no less, providing the bombs and weapons to commit this Yemeni outrage and genocide.
      And they are bowing, scraping and entertaining the Saudi psychopath responsible.
      Such unspeakable hypocrisy is probably beyond anything we have yet seen – worse even than the chaos and genocide of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and now Syria – an intent destruction of a nation and its people – Yemen – completely illegally also under international law and the UN charter.
      To be providing weapons for open mass murder as the west is to the Saudis – is the nadir of any morality – it is plain satanic.
      And these arrogant killers claim the high moral ground in their intent to turn Syria into rubble for a feigned act of so-called terror.

      • Resident Dissident

        I don’t have to explain why no action is being taken against the Saudis because I support action being taken against them – perhaps the Russians could join the EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia rather than looking to act as an alternative supplier?

  • Clark

    The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG – one nuclear powered aircraft carrier, six destroyers, one cruiser, with support from one German frigate) is on its way to Syrian waters, arrives Wednesday.

    All hell could break loose, and we need to act. Now.

    At the very least, please join the protest, one branch of which will be at Parliament Square, this afternoon (Monday) 17:30.

  • jazza

    It takes a nation such as Bolivia to tell the truth:

    SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), condemning chemical weapons use as unjustifiable and criminal, by whomever and wherever, said those responsible must be identified, investigated, prosecuted and punished in the most rigorous way possible, and demanded a transparent and impartial investigation. Three permanent members of the Council had used force in breach of the United Nations Charter and the sovereignty of a Member State, and he expressed surprise that permanent Council members, given their greater responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, had bypassed the United Nations. Indeed, they defended multilateralism when it suited them, and discarded it when it did not, which events in 2003 in Iraq and in 2011 in Libya had shown. Rejecting the use of unilateral actions, he decried the air strikes, which represented an attack against the OPCW fact-finding mission and the Council’s duty to maintain international peace and security, as well as the Charter and the entire international community. He asked the Council to consider who had sold weapons to actors bombing civilians in Yemen, or built walls or stepped away from the Paris Agreement on climate change. He cited the United Kingdom’s refusal to return the Malvinas Islands* in describing a range of policies that undermined global peace and security. Bolivia understood that the United States had powerful aircraft carriers, satellites, smart bombs and a huge nuclear weapons arsenal, as well as nothing but scorn for international law. However, there were also the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter, which ultimately, would prevail.

    FUKUS has acted outside the legal framework of the United Nations – they continue their elitist, exceptionalist and totally fraudulent behaviours – outside of national and international law and treaties – this is what should be being condemned not Syria, not Russia, not chemical weapons pantomimes

  • Resident Dissident

    “all the relevant texts say that an attack on another state is illegal without authorisation of the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.”

    I think Craig meant “all the relevant texts that I acknowledge…..”. I am sure that there are some experts in international law, even if they are not as expert or as qualified as Craig who have a different view. I don’t claim expertise that I don’t have – but I do know that there are usually many different interpretations of international law and that lawyers are usually pretty good at finding support for their often contradictory interpretations.

      • Emily

        Thanks for that.
        It would be hard to fault that legal finding.
        However it makes it beyond doubt that May and her cabinet have acted outside international law and the UN Charter.
        They are war criminals.
        May, Bojo. and stupid boy PIke/Williamson – should resign – at the very least.
        Or Britain will be seen on the international stage as being governed by politicians with no regard for the rule of law – and as such are rogue states.
        May must go – for Britain’s reputation if nothing else.

        • Resident Dissident

          Unfortunately Emily a little more is needed in international law than your summary judgements. What about all those abuses of human rights that contravene the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – or do you have a problem in interpreting the word “universal” just like your old pals had with that little Helsinki thing?

          • Tom Welsh

            Yes – so do it, as it explicitly forbids air strikes, which can hardly fail to deprive some people of their rights. Such as that to life.

            Moreover, there is absolutely no provision in the Declaration for any enforcement. It can be interpreted as telling the Syrian government how to treat its citizens, but does not give anyone the right to attack Syria for any reason.

            Article 30.

            Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

          • Resident Dissident

            “Moreover, there is absolutely no provision in the Declaration for any enforcement.”

            Not in the Declaration – but Member States should be expelled from the UN if they don’t comply as it is a condition of their membership. You have to remember why the UN was established in the first place – the root cause of the problem is that the UN has become unfit for its own purpose, and rather than trying to use what is the very sick animal of international law to try and pursue a vendetta against western democracies, those who are really concerned about human rights should be looking how to make the UN work effectively. Saddam was attacking and gassing his own people and neighbours well before the Iraq War, the Assad Monarchy was running an autocratic police state and murdering thousands of his own people in the Hama massacre well before the current conflict, genocide was happening in Rwanda, Slobbo started wars in 3/4 countries before Nato intervened, the Soviet Union violated the Helsinkki Accords – where was the UN and this forums sycophants then?

    • Hatuey

      Actually, this is one area where International Law couldn’t be clearer. There are basically two possible legal reasons you might attack someone; 1) if your country is under attack or impending attack, and 2) humanitarian grounds, to stop a massacre of some sort, for example.

      Before you get into any debate about whether events in Syria might satisfy 2 above, it’s important to note that a UN Security Council mandate specific to a massacre or attack in question would need to be secured.

      Failure to satisfy 1 or 2 above means you are guilty of “aggression” in International Law and in this case you would probably define it as a “War of Aggression”, reflect the sustained systematic nature of the attacks.

      War of Aggression is the most severe breech of International Law possible. It’s basically what the Nazis were hung for.

      • Tom Welsh

        Nikki Haley said the other day that, if the UNSC did not take action against a nation doing something believed to be wrong, other nations (such as the USA) would have to act without the UN’s sanction.

        That was a barefaced lie, as the UN Charter does not allow any such exceptions. Indeed, if it did, the UN would be completely pointless. The law must apply to everyone alike – hard as that may be to accept for rich Americans, who are accustomed to ignoring their own domestic laws with impunity.

        • Resident Dissident

          Difficult to have respect for a law when the law is an ass. Ironic how the ersatz left is now employing one of the Tories oldest arguments about respect for the law!

      • Hugh FNer

        Spiez lab have confirmed that “Novichock” was used though just a day and a half ago.

        The OPCW are now tweeting that the Russians have refused the permit held that the UN’s Safety and Security Committee had lawfully issued.
        Meanwhile the Russian Govt have stated “Mr Ryabkov told reporters in Moscow that what is hampering a swift resolution of the mission’s visit to the Syrian town of Douma, near Damascus, the site of the alleged chemical attack, is “the consequences of the illegal, unlawful military action”, a reference to Saturday’s punitive air strikes.”
        So they aren’t going to get in despite the promises made by the Russians.

          • Gideon Blackmarsh

            The correct link, without the extra dot, is:

            It’s the twitter feed of the UK Delegation to the OPCW. Make of that what you will.

            If the Russians are excluding the UK from the investigation after the UK did the same to them over the Skripal case, fair play to them

      • Jo Dominich

        I have looked at different reporting of this. Al Jazeera so far is the only one that has reported differently. It quoted the Syrian FM as saying the OPCW Inspectors had arrived on Saturday, they had had three sets of talks as to how the parties would cooperate and that they hadn’t had access to Douma yet. The Syrian FM also said the Inspectors were there at the request of Syria and the Russians. It also quoted that the complaint to OPCW had been made by the UK delegate. Personally, I am sick and tired of all this anti-Syria, anti-Russia demonisation and false report by the Western MSM. Where is this all going to end and when is it all going to stop?

    • Capella

      “Russia: UN has ‘not approved’ OPCW inspection

      Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has claimed that the OPCW mission to access the site of the chemical attack in Douma does not yet have the approval of the UN.

      “It is the lack of approval by the UN Department for Safety and Security for OPCW experts to visit the site in Douma that is the problem,” he said.

      He added that “the consequences of the illegal, unlawful military action” by the US, UK and France had contributed to the delay.”

      From Sky News 13.42 as per your link. The headline is usually wrong.

      • Sean Lamb

        Who knows? So far it is only the British who are kicking up a fuss. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Russians have suddenly seen the trap that France, UK and USA have laid for them.

        Still, they will just have to suck it up. If they appear to block the mission they will look guilty, if they cooperate fully then they may be able to navigate the rapids.

  • giyane

    She issued a statement of intent months ago in her banquet speech to the City of London. This government,when it was first elected in 2010 declared its intention through their then mouthpiece William Hague, that their Foreign Policy would be different. It was different because they switched from opposing Al Qaida publicly , to openly using Al Qaida to do their dirty work for them, a plan devised by US General Petraeus.

    This government has not even a plan for a plan for what might happen if they lost the war against the wishes of the Syrian people using Islamist troops led by UK and French special forces. Russian action against the Islamists has prevented all the opportunities this government had in Libya as illegal victors in that conquest of destroying the evidence of their criminal use of torture rendition by Gadaffi. The latest bombing round is an attempt to destroy the evidence of UK use of chemical weapons against people they have renditioned.

    As with all liars, Mrs May and Johnson have mixed a tiny grain of truth into their public statements. It is true that Assad used UK provided poisons to torture Muslims in the process of torture rendition. So also have many other states including Poland. What Mrs May and Johnson omit is that Mrs May as Home Secretary and her predecessor as PM David Cameron commissioned Assad to chemically torture Muslims.

    This plan, and its present laughable attempt to prevent its exposure, is obviously not invented by this pair of intellectual dumbos. It is the work of Zionists, whose mission is to neutralise all their neighbours in the Middle East. What we are seeing is like a trial where all the mister Bigs of a bullion heist are luxuriating in South America, while the driver, terrified for his life if he grasses, is made to carry the can and is sent down for a long prison sentence.

    This is how Mrs May comes to look like a scared rabbit in the headlights while simultaneously commits international war crimes. She is undoubtedly not clever enough either to make the plan nor escape the consequences of standing as scapegoat. a very poos show indeed. Yet if she was the driver in a bullion heist she would be made to serve her time. As it is the Zionists who run HMG, neither she nor Boris are likely to be punished for stooging for the Israelis.

  • Billy Bostickson

    Not sure if posted already but what the hell, here goes.

    A Swiss Journalist’s explanation of the BZ finding:

    Real and wrong samples

    There is also evidence that Spiez has actually found the BZ agent. But that is not a contradiction to Mogl’s statement that he trusts the British Nowitschok result. For one of the rigid control mechanisms of the OPCW is that the reference laboratories each receive several sets of samples. It is typical that the OPCW not only sends the “real” sample, but also negative and positive control samples. Although these are similar, they contain no chemical warfare agent in the first case, and in the second case, another, which was added to the sample. This ensures that the commissioned laboratory works flawlessly and does not know what the “real” sample is. If Spiez of the OPCW reported not only the Find Nowitschok, but also the presence of BZ, this is best explained by the use of such a control sample. For the OPCW, there was no reason to publicly report the BZ findings – they knew that this was only a check-up.

    • IM

      Negative control sample means you don’t include or pollute your primary sample, you don’t take an inspection sample and contaminate it; that’s just not how it works. Besides, why are the journos not waiting for the official OPCW explanation, probing what the gullible public is likely to “buy”?

      • Billy Bostickson

        He claims that OPCW process is to include not only a negative control sample but also “positive control samples. Although these are similar, they contain no chemical warfare agent in the first case, and in the second case, another (different chemical warfare agent, I guess he means), which was added to the sample.”

        Do you have any references for the normal procedure involved in such cases by OPCW.

        Seems the Journalist is claiming that the OPCW sends three sample, one a negative control, one the Skripal sample, and one a positive control sample containing another chemical warfare agent.

    • Hatuey

      Curious and curiouser.

      The reason, of course, that this is a bit of a head frazzler is that the two victims were seen acting in a way that was consistent with being exposed to BZ.

      • Jo Dominich

        Not only that but, the lab also found high levels of A-234 which would have been lethal and killed instantly.

    • Xavi

      Mill would doubtless see Theresa “Yemen” May and Donald Trump as two of the great humanitarians of our age. (btw, the great liberal JS Mill supported slavery)

      • Resident Dissident

        That I very much doubt. Mill was also clear when foreign intervention was not appropriate and he did not support slavery.

  • Amy Lawrence

    “the most appropriate recent examples are Russian military intervention in Ukraine and Georgia. I oppose those Russian interventions as”


    Georgia was ABSOLUTELY justified
    Do you think Russia decided they would just go for a jaunt into Georgia for 5 days, have a fight and then leave again for literally NO REASON?

    Ukraine was not even a military intervention !

    You say some really stupid things from someone who is supposed to be informed

    • Emily

      It certainly was won by the Russians.
      It certainly was won on the Eastern Front.
      Without the Russian destruction of the German war machine at the cost of 27 to 30,000,000 of their population, D Day would have been a bloodbath – had it happened at all.
      There is little doubt Europe would not have been liberated, and would have remained German dominated – (as it is now by the Fourth Reich rather than the Third) and Britain would probably have fallen – certainly only its Commonwealth supported and saved it.
      And remember as Britain stood alone with its Commonwealth – it was Russia who entered the war against Germany beside us as an ally – before the Americans ever did.
      The Americans just sat back and profiteered whilst debating whether to support Britain or Germany.

      • Kempe

        Which Allied leader pushed the hardest for a second front to be opened in the West? (Hint. Name begins with S)

        US and British bombing diverted significant amount of war material away from the Eastern front into home defence including half the 88mm and 128mm guns, large quantities of ammunition and hundreds and thousands of men. Without this (and the supplies shipped to Russia on the Arctic convoys) Russias losses would’ve been very much higher. One reason they were so high in the frst place was that Stalin had purged all the Red Army’s best officers in the 1930s.

    • Blissex

      I did not know that the Conservative government claimed that the *interior* of the house was contaminated by poison — does this means that the house was burgled and the poison put on both the internal and external doorknobs? Amazing theory.

      The speculation that looks more plausible is that they Skripals had a lucrative side trade in “black market” substances and not being very careful they contaminated themselves accidentally with an incapacitating substance they were ready to deliver to someone.

      So far I refuse to believe that the whole incident was faked by the english security services, because I pay taxes to support them and I want to believe that they can do much more credible fake incidents that don’t have so many holes in the story.
      To me the story feels more and more like an accident that was turned haphazardly into a claim of an “attack”, probably after orders from some idiot politician who smelt political opportunity, and I hope over the objections of the english security services that would have said it would result in a story with too many holes.

      • Tom Welsh

        I can’t help imagining the scene as the MI6 “burglar”, having broken in and anointed the interior door handle, seeks to leave.

        “oh FUCK!!!”

      • sibbaldi

        “So far I refuse to believe that the whole incident was faked by the English security services, because I pay taxes to support them and I want to believe that they can do much more credible fake incidents that don’t have so many holes in the story.”

        Don’t hold your breath! I would suggest they are as cretinous as they appear.
        They have obviously not been employing the right people for some time. Basically, how many good authors who can create a believable narrative can you name having come out of MI5/6 recently? Gone are the days of Graham Greene, Ian Fleming and Corwall/Le Carre!

  • TJ

    It’s now just after 4pm and still no statement from our Fuhrer, I wonder if she is hiding in a bunker?

  • Steve Hayes

    The only way to stop these war crimes is for the electorates of the US, France and the United Kingdom to hold these criminals to account. They have been emboldened by the failure to hold them to account for their previous crimes.

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