The World: What is Really Happening 382

If you want to understand what is really happening in the world today, a mid-ranking official named Ian Henderson is vastly more important to you than Theresa May. You will not, however, find anything about Henderson in the vast majority of corporate and state media outlets.

You may recall that, one month after the Skripal incident, there was allegedly a “chemical weapons attack” in the jihadist enclave of Douma, which led to air strikes against the Syrian government in support of the jihadist forces by US, British and French bombers and missiles. At the time, I argued that the Douma jihadist enclave was on the brink of falling (as indeed it proved) and there was no military advantage – and a massive international downside – for the Syrian Army in using chemical weapons. Such evidence for the attack that existed came from the jihadist allied and NATO funded White Helmets and related sources; and the veteran and extremely respected journalist Robert Fisk, first westerner to arrive on the scene, reported that no chemical attack had taken place.

The “Douma chemical weapon attack” was linked to the “Skripal chemical weapon attack” by the western media as evidence of Russian evil. Robert Fisk was subjected to massive media abuse and I was demonised by countless mainstream media journalists on social media, of which this is just one example of a great many.

In both the Skripal and the Douma case, it fell to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to provide the technical analysis. The OPCW is a multilateral body established by treaty, and has 193 member states. The only major chemical weapons owning powers which are not members and refuse the inspections regime are the pariah rogue states Israel and North Korea.

An OPCW fact finding mission visited Douma on April 21 and 25 2018 and was able to visit the sites, collect samples and interview witnesses. No weaponised chemicals were detected but traces of chlorine were found. Chlorine is not an uncommon chemical, so molecular traces of chlorine at a bombing site are not improbable. The interim report of the OPCW following the Fact Finding Mission was markedly sober and non-committal:

The results show that no organophosphorous nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or in the plasma samples taken from alleged casualties. Along with explosive residues, various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from two sites, for which there is full chain of custody.

The fact finding mission then returned to OPCW HQ, at which time the heavily politicised process took over within the secretariat and influenced by national delegations. 9 months later the final report was expressed in language of greater certainty, yet backed by no better objective evidence:

Regarding the alleged use of toxic chemicals as a weapon on 7 April 2018 in Douma, the Syrian Arab Republic, the evaluation and analysis of all the information gathered by the FFM—witnesses’ testimonies, environmental and biomedical samples analysis results, toxicological and ballistic analyses from experts, additional digital information from witnesses—provide reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.

However the report noted it was unable to determine who had used the chlorine as a weapon. Attempts to spin this as a consequence of OPCW’s remit are nonsense – the OPCW exists precisely to police chemical weapons violations, and has never operated on the basis of violator anonymity.

Needless to say, NATO funded propaganda site Bellingcat had been from the start in the lead in proclaiming to the world the “evidence” that this was a chemical weapons attack by the Assad government, dropping simple chlorine cylinders as bombs. The original longer video footage of one of the videos on the Bellingcat site gives a fuller idea of the remarkable lack of damage to one gas cylinder which had smashed through the reinforced concrete roof and landed gently on the bed.

[I am sorry that I do not know how to extract that longer video from its tweet. You need to click on the above link then click on the link in the first tweet that warns you it is sensitive material – in fact there is nothing sensitive there, so don’t worry.]

Now we come to the essential Mr Ian Henderson. Mr Henderson was in charge of the engineering sub-group of the OPCW Fact Finding Mission. The engineers assessed that the story of the cylinders being dropped from the sky was improbable, and it was much more probable that they had simply been placed there manually. There are two major reasons they came to this conclusion.

At least one of the crater holes showed damage that indicated it had been caused by an explosive, not by the alleged blunt impact. The cylinders simply did not show enough damage to have come through the reinforced concrete slabs and particularly the damage which would have been caused by the rebar. Rebar is actually thicker steel than a gas cylinder and would have caused major deformation.

Yet – and this is why Ian Henderson is more important to your understanding of the world than Theresa May – the OPCW Fact Finding Mission reflected in their final report none of the findings of their own sub-group of university based engineers from two European universities, but instead produced something that is very close to the amateur propaganda “analysis” put out by Bellingcat. The implications of this fraud are mind-blowing.

The genuine experts’ findings were completely suppressed until they were leaked last week. And still then, this leak – which has the most profound ramifications – has in itself been almost completely suppressed by the mainstream media, except for those marginalised outliers who still manage to get a platform, Robert Fisk and Peter Hitchens (a tiny platform in the case of Fisk).

Consider what this tells us. A fake chemical attack incident was used to justify military aggression against Syria by the USA, UK and France. The entire western mainstream media promoted the anti-Syrian and anti-Russian narrative to justify that attack. The supposedly neutral international watchdog, the OPCW, was manipulated by the NATO powers to produce a highly biased report that omits the findings of its own engineers. Which can only call into doubt the neutrality and reliability of the OPCW in its findings on the Skripals too.

There has been virtually no media reporting of the scandalous cover-up. This really does tell you a very great deal more about how the Western world works than the vicissitudes of the ludicrously over-promoted Theresa May and her tears of self pity.

Still more revealing is the reaction from the OPCW – which rather than acknowledge there is a major problem with the conclusions of its Douma report, has started a witch hunt for the whistleblower who leaked the Henderson report.

The Russian government claimed to have intelligence that indicated it was MI6 behind the faking of the Douma chemical attack. I have no means of knowing the truth of that, and am always sceptical of claims by all governments on intelligence matters, after a career observing government disinformation techniques from the inside. But the MI6 claim is consistent with the involvement of the MI6 originated White Helmets in this scam. and MI6 can always depend on their house journal The Guardian to push their narrative, as Guardian Middle East editor Brian Whitaker does here in an article “justifying” the omission of the Henderson report by the OPCW. Whitaker argues that Henderson’s engineers had a minority view. Interestingly Whitaker’s article is not from the Guardian itself, which prefers to keep all news of the Henderson report from the public.

But Whitaker’s thesis cannot stand. On one level, of course we know that Henderson’s expert opinion did not prevail at the OPCW. Henderson and the truth lost out in the politicking. But at the very least, it would be essential for the OPCW report to reflect and note the strong contrary view among its experts, and the suppression of this essential information cannot possibly be justified. Whitaker’s attempt to do so is a disgrace.

Which leads me on to the Skripals.

I have noted before the news management technique of the security services, leaking out key facts in a managed way over long periods so as not to shock what public belief there is in the official Skripal story. Thus nine months passed before it was admitted that the first person who “coincidentally” came across the ill Skripals on the park bench, just happened to be the Chief Nurse of the British Army.

The inquest into the unfortunate Dawn Sturgess has now been postponed four times. The security services have now admitted – once again through the Guardian – that even if “Boshirov and Petrov” poisoned the Skripals, they cannot have been also responsible for the poisoning of Dawn Sturgess. This because the charity bin in which the perfume bottle was allegedly found is emptied regularly so the bottle could not have lain there for 16 weeks undiscovered, and because the package was sealed so could not have been used on the Skripals’ doorknob.

This Guardian article is bylined by the security services’ pet outlet, Luke Harding, and one other. The admissions are packaged in a bombastic sandwich about Russian GRU agents.

Every single one of these points – that “Boshirov and Petrov” have never been charged with the manslaughter of Sturgess, that the bottle was sealed so could not have been used at the Skripals’ house, and that it cannot have been in the charity bin that long – are points that I have repeatedly made, and for which I have suffered massive abuse, including – indeed primarily – from dozens of mainstream media journalists. Making precisely these points has seen me labelled as a mentally ill conspiracy theorist or paid Russian agent. Just like the Douma fabrication, it turns out there was indeed every reason to doubt, and now, beneath a veneer of anti-Russian nonsense, these facts are quietly admitted by anonymous “sources” to Harding. No wonder poor Dawn Sturgess keeps not getting an inquest.

Which brings us back full circle to the OPCW. In neither its report on the Salisbury poisoning nor its report on the Amesbury poisoning did the OPCW ever use the word Novichok. As an FCO source explained to me, the expert scientists in OPCW were desperate to signal that the Salisbury sample had not been for days on a doorknob collecting atmospheric dust, rain and material from hands and gloves, but all the politics of the OPCW leadership would allow them to slip in was the phrase “almost complete absence of impurities” as a clue – which the British government then spun as meaning “military grade” when it actually meant “not from a doorknob”.

Now we have seen irrefutable evidence of poor Ian Henderson in exactly the same position with the OPCW of having the actual scientific analysis blocked out of the official findings. That is extremely strong added evidence that my source was indeed telling the truth about the earlier suppression of the scientific evidence in the Skripal case.

Even the biased OPCW could not give any evidence of the Amesbury and Salisbury poisons being linked, concluding:

“Due to the unknown storage conditions of the small bottle found in the house of Mr Rowley and the fact that the environmental samples analysed in relation to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and Mr Nicholas Bailey were exposed to the environment and moisture, the impurity profiles of the samples available to the OPCW do not make it possible to draw conclusions as to whether the samples are from the same synthesis batch

Which is strange, as the first sample had an “almost complete absence of impurities” and the second was straight out of the bottle. In fact beneath the doublespeak the OPCW are saying there is no evidence the two attacks were from the same source. Full stop.

I suppose I should now have reached the stage where nothing will shock me, but as a textbook example of the big lie technique, this BBC article is the BBC’s take on the report I just quoted – which remember does not even use the word Novichok.

When it comes to government narrative and the mainstream media, mass purveyor of fake news, scepticism is your friend. Remembering that is much more important to your life than the question of which Tory frontman is in No. 10.

For an analysis of the Henderson Report fiasco written to the highest academic standards, where you can find all the important links to original source material, read this superb work by the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media.


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382 thoughts on “The World: What is Really Happening

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  • Christopher Busby

    The analysis of the nerve agent and the comparisons between the samples would not be affected by dirt on the door knob vs. pure substance in a bottle. The mass spectrometer signature would be able to identify that they were the same, or were different. There would, of course also be impurities from the door knob, but the chemical “novichok” lines would line up. There are always imputrities in any batch of any chemical which are from its synthetic route. These would be there in the “pure” and the doorknob sample spectrum. So if the OPCS said that they could not determine if it was the same batch, they were lying and it was a different sample. Probably synthesized carefully at Porton. But why did they kill the nurse? If it were the same batch, they would of course have said so. Keep up the good work. I am in Latvia where the NATO North operation is in full swing; they have just done a huge facelift to the little Riga airport and taken all the bilingual Russian off all the notices. In Riga in the recent Euro elections, 250,000 leaflets telling people to vote were not delivered to the Russian sectors so of course the Russian speakers did not vote for their Russian candiates. Riga is about half Russian speaking.

  • uncle tungsten

    Trust George Monbiot to shill for the establishment. Not to stress over George Monbiot Craig as he has crapped all over his credibility working for that Soros rag called the Grauniad.

    The BS chlorine attack in Douma was clearly a fake from the very moment those photographs of the ceiing and bed were published. Any reader with even a faint turn of logic could see the stupidity of the allegation and contrived story. Likewise it was that event that fully revealed Trump as being just another swamp creature, warmonger and perpetrator of crimes against humanity.

    • Laguerre

      “Likewise it was that event that fully revealed Trump as being just another swamp creature, warmonger and perpetrator of crimes against humanity.”

      You need some analysis of the breakdown of different factions’ interests in Washington. Trump is not just a warmonger; if he were we’d already be at war.

    • Tatyana

      uncle tungsten
      I must say that the Bellingcat’s article and all of their evidence I found convincing, at first glance.
      In a couple of days, the Russian military got to the place, shot a video and presented their arguments about the gas cylinders, about alive children from the hospital, about alive chicken in a neighboring apartment. And then I revised again Bellingcat’s video with a man in a gas mask standing on the site of the alleged attack and heard very well the ‘cockadoodledoo’. I thought, indeed, something here doesn’t fit.

      • michael norton

        The Novichoking in Salisbury and in Amesbury, both military towns in Southern England was supposed to let us know that Putin’s Russia is no longer a sleeping bear but alive and willing to nerve gas people in Syria and England, these actions must be countered.

        • Tatyana

          yes, Michael, these preparations greatly interfered.
          When the russians brought Hasan Diab, that alive ‘victim of chemical attack’ to the Hague (the Netherlands again!) the delegations of the United States, Britain and their allies refused to hear the boy’s testimony.
          Generally, ignoring Russia’s arguments in an investigation is top-fashion now.

    • Loony

      You are obviously correct – just look on in awe at how Trump has fired thousands of missiles into North Korea. Marvel at the fact that he has just dispatched 1,500 troops to the Middle East – and understand how 1.500 is a much larger number than the 250,000 troops dispatched by Bush.

      Maybe 1,500 is that is left after the full scale invasion of Venezuela!! Wonder for a moment how the majority of cruise missiles fired at Syria missed their targets. And never ever forget that Trump is a coward – too scared to initiate a full scale nuclear war with Russia. Just think for a moment how much your life would be improved by nuclear war. Remember that all of this has been denied you by the abject cowardice of Trump.

      It is almost 50 years since John Lennon first begged the world to “Give War a Chance” and still Trump refuses to hear the call of the people.

      • J

        Although inevitably, as you have before during your time here, you will at some point attempt to co-opt this ‘call of the people’ on behalf of the powerful, gaslighting them into believe that any vote for a progressive voice is precisely the wrong thing to do, worse even than voting for the status quo.

        • Loony

          It depends on how you define “progressive” For some reason those who most identify as progressives are the most reluctant to define the term.

          I seem to recall that Tony Blair considered himself a progressive – although once the reality of the hideousness of his particular doctrine became apparent a number of his fellow progressives seemed to find new and different progressives to rally around.

          Bailing out the banks appeared to be something supported by progressives – just such a shame that they omitted to mention that they were in fact cheer leading for the greatest transfer of wealth from poor to rich ever seen.

          Macron appears to be the new darling of the progressives. Odd that his supporters do not overtly confirm that their real hope is for a full scale bloodbath and Act 2 of the Revolution of 1789.

          If gaslighting means some form of manipulation then you have identified the wrong suspect. I am quite clear. Support for any of the policies means either that you are a genocidal maniac or you are misinformed on a gigantic scale.

    • Antonym

      Monbiot is shilling also for the Green Establishment. Can’t say more here….

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Tucker Carlson (briefly) discusses the censored OPCW report with Tulsi Gabbard.

    From the edit, I guess that Carlson has just completed a dissection of the implications of the Henderson report. Hope Trump continues to watch Fox News while in Japan.

    • Baalbek

      If you think Trump really gives a sh*t about any of this, you are a fool. Are you aware of his strangling Iran with economic warfare and threatening to wage military war against it and Venezuela? How about his bromance with Bibi Nutbaryahu and the insulting and ridiculous “deal of the century” the Kushner is cobbling together for the Palestinians? His support for the ultra-right apocalypse cult evangelical Christian Zionists and their medieval barbarism?

      You people holding out hope for that dangerous fool Trump are worse than the Obots who couldn’t accept that Obama wasn’t the hero they wanted him to be.

      Wake the $&”@ up.

      • Andyoldlabour


        Good post, I agree with all of it. Trump is a natural bully and conman, someone who you couldn’t trust in a million years. He has surrounded hinself with others who share his evil traits – Bolton, Pompeo, Pence, they are all vile creatures who enjoy inflicting pain on others.
        Trump is a narcissistic monster who wants to be the centre of attention all the time, and it doesn’t matter if that attention is for all the wrong reasons, because he doesn’t really care, he has zero empathy for others.

  • Felicity Arbuthnot.

    Greetings, Craig,

    Terrific piece, as ever. One point though, Brian Whitaker is former Foreign Editor at the Guardian, he is no longer there.

    Warmest, f.

  • michael norton

    “All that noise will not affect Syria stance in its war against terrorism.” the source told SANA

    It added that the Syrian Arab Republic stresses that it was and still is confident that what is happening now of that systemized campaign, of lies to accuse the Syrian state of using chemical weapons, is nothing but a desperate, repeated attempt, by some western states and their master, the US, to ease pressure on the crimes of terrorists in Idleb and an uncovered attempt to delay the advance of army in those regions.

    “All that noise and collective playing on this string will not affect the Syrian stance to continue its war against terrorism and liberate all its territories from it ,” the source added.
    America moves another 1,500 troops to the Middle East

  • Spencer Eagle

    The one thing that has always troubled me about the alleged Douma attack is the fact, if the attack actually occured at all, that it would rank as the most efficiently carried out gas attack in the history of chemical warfare. An alleged 70 people dead as a result of a release from a 50kg cylinder is simply impossible. As a weapon gas is terribly unreliable, even early engagements in WW1, where whole lines of men were caught without adequate protection, the ratio of gas used to fatality was very high. In one early use of a chlorine/phosgene mix against largely unprotected troops, 168 tons were released resulting in 120 deaths. Throughout the war that ratio changed little, overall 100,000 tons of gas were used in WW1 resulting in 91,000 deaths. Compare Douma to the 1995 Tokyo subway attacks, where the exponentially more deadly sarin was used in a five location rush hour attack that killed 12, the claims from Douma become even more absurd.

    • Tatyana

      Women and children died, many of them, in a limited space. It gives me a terrible idea that these women could be persuaded to sacrifice their lives and the lives of children for the victory of the Islamic state, or what their goals are. As if all gathered together and opened the valve on the cylinder. I can’t stop thinking about it.

      Russian version of Bellingcat has many comments on the case. Here is one of them:

      “List of identified and unidentified victims of chemical poisoning in the Duma 07.04.2018.
      We draw attention to the deceased Hamzeh Hanan in this list, whose brother Naser Hanan two days ago gave an interview to the CBS reporter, who arrived at the place of the chemical attack (watch from 19:00
      There are still questions with what (*substance) and how people were poisoned and who did it ??”

      • Borncynical


        Please see the linked report of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media. It was this Group which was given the leaked OPCW report and they consequently produced an analysis of events, including (harrowing) comments in section 3 on the possible origin of the dead bodies in the photos.

        I also follow Vanessa Beeley’s and Eva Bartlett’s Twitter feeds and it was stated recently in one or other – or both – that people who live in the neighbourhood local to the alleged chemical weapons attack were shown the photographs and did not recognise any of the victims. This suggested the victims may have been killed elsewhere and their bodies transported to the place of the ‘attack’, or they had been brought in alive and then killed on site.

        • Tatyana

          thank you, Borncynical. I see there’s something for Kempe in the report.

          @Kempe, you may be interested

          “…The report is signed by Ian Henderson, who is listed as one of the first P-5 level inspection team leaders trained at OPCW in a report dated 1998 (*link We have confirmed that as the engineering expert on the FFM, Henderson was assigned to lead the investigation of the cylinders and alleged impact sites at Locations 2 and 4…

          … the OPCW press office stated that “the individual mentioned in the document has never been a member of the FFM”. This statement is false. The engineering sub-team could not have been carrying out studies in Douma … unless they had been notified by OPCW to the Syrian National Authority … as FFM inspectors: it is unlikely that Henderson arrived on a tourist visa.

          The OPCW press office also attempted to suggest that the report of the engineering sub-team was not part of the FFM’s investigation. This statement also is false. The sub-team report refers to external collaborators … on on such a sensitive matter (*that it) could not have gone ahead unless it had been authorised: otherwise Henderson would have been dismissed instantly for breach of confidentiality… the report had received the necessary authorisation within OPCW…”

          • Kempe

            ” This statement is false ” Says who and on the basis of what evidence? Of course the authors of that blog would have to say that because otherwise it impinges Henderson’s importance and credibility. The truth is he was never in Douma at all.

  • Tony

    This is a very good article.
    The brutality of the Assad regime is not in doubt but that does not mean that it used chemical weapons. I do not see that it would gain any advantage from doing so.
    The OPCW is in a difficult position though and I do not understand why George Monbiot does not acknowledge this.
    To understand the kind of pressure that has been brought against the OPCW in the past, please see this article:

    • Borncynical


      “The brutality of the Assad regime is not in doubt…”

      A genuine request. Grateful if you could elaborate on this, perhaps citing examples that haven’t been debunked or haven’t been provided by terrorists/terrorist sympathisers or biased MSM sources. Regarding the MSM, I do not regard any report or broadcast produced by any MSM to be valid evidence (I have in mind, for one, the laughable BBC three part documentary on President Assad and his family broadcast last year).

        • Tatyana

          I’ll be the third
          *just for the record – in Russia it means ‘you need three men to empty a bottle of vodka’.

          • Michael Droy

            fourth – given the last 60% of reporting on Syria has been proven lies accepted willingly by the media, and now the first 10% of all reporting on Venezuela has been considerably false, I really don’t think we should be accepting the first bits of news out of Syria as reliable.

          • Bayard

            “Braced for the usual ad hominen attacks on the film makers.”
            Does that include pointing out that some of their assertions are physical impossibilities?
            You still haven’t answered the question about how the gas cylinders got through a reinforced concrete slab undamaged.

          • Kempe

            ” Does that include pointing out that some of their assertions are physical impossibilities? ”

            For example?

          • George

            For example how the gas cylinders got through a reinforced concrete slab undamaged?

          • Bayard

            “look at the photos”

            I am looking at the photos, well one photo, the one pictured above, which shows an undamaged cylinder. There may be other photos showing damaged cylinders, but that doesn’t explain how the cylinder in the photo above is not damaged. Nor do I need to read the report to know that there is not a plausible explanation as to how that particular cylinder got through a reinforced concrete floor undamaged. Forget Syria, forget Russia, the US, the White Helmets, forget everything except an undamaged cylinder lying on an undamaged bed, somewhere in the world. Wherever that cylinder is, it did not punch its way through a reinforced concrete slab to get there.

          • Kempe

            Front of the cylinder has been pushed in and the harness fitted around it to protect the valve and hold the fins has been badly chewed up.

          • Kempe

            The cylinder in the myth-busters video punched it’s way through the test wall and into the real wall beyond it and remained undamaged. It’s speed was reported as 40 mph which meant it would’ve had around one third of the energy of the cylinders dropped at Douma.

      • Loony

        The brutality of the regime in Syria has lasted longer than the Presidency of Bashar al-Assad. Take for example the crushing of the 1982 rebellion in Hama. Thousands of people were killed by the actions of the Syrian government.

        In an attempt to forestall further such mass bloodshed then unsurprisingly cracked down hard on actual and potential dissidents – arbitrary arrest and torture being a common response. You can find more information here

        The explanation for the violence of the Syrian government can be found in demographics, but naturally any such inquiry will lead to accusations of racism and so we are forced to conclude that al-Assad is “literally Hitler” Based on current trends the reincarnation of Hitler will soon arrive back in Europe – possibly riding Paul Revere’s horse and the vegans will bemoan the evils of horse riding and no-one will be allowed any other explanation.

        • lysias

          One does wonder whether that rebellion in Hama was an earlier example of the West and its allies interfering in Syria. The U.S. has a long history of interfering in Syria. The very first coup that the CIA sponsored was in Syria in 1949.

          • Crispa

            What is often conveniently missed out of the reports of the 1982 Hama massacre by the government forces is that it was a direct response to the massacre of nearly one hundred Alawite army cadets by the military wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was increasing its militancy against the government, and therefore seen to be a major terrorist threat. I don’t think there is any disputing that the scale of the response was massive, just like the massive response of the western powers to ISIS and its ruthless annihilation of everything it stands for, which of course is seen through a different prism.

          • Loony

            That would be a much more plausible answer than demographics. It is not as though demographics can explain other outbreaks of violence – say Northern Ireland for example. Maybe the UVF is also a creation of the CIA. Interestingly internecine violence in Ireland and other places (e.g. the Balkans) predates the creation of the CIA.

            Rather like a religious deity the CIA is capable of operating outwith the constraints of time.

        • Borncynical


          Thanks for your comments.

          I don’t know enough about Bashar al-Assad’s father to comment on his approach to leading the country, and I accept that when Bashar Al-Assad came to power unexpectedly (from his point of view) it is quite likely that he inherited some unsavoury practices instigated and endorsed by advisers and military leaders; these couldn’t be changed overnight.

          But if I look at Bashar al-Assad himself as a head of state and as a person, having seen interviews with him and about him, and read comments made by Syrian civilians and seen videos of him fraternising with ordinary working people and being greeted with such affection, I do not believe him to be the person he is made out to be by the propaganda machine. It seems to me that up until the so-called ‘uprising’ he vastly improved the country of Syria as a whole for everyone including minority or previously oppressed groups. This was quite an achievement.

          In Syria there are about 100 different moderate or radical political/religious groups. Bearing in mind that a number of these are so entrenched in their beliefs that they indulge in slaughtering whole villages of people of different beliefs or faiths, it is a wonder that Assad has sustained the country in the way he has. Even the Kurds have their darker side. Not only faced with those ongoing challenges, he has had to endure Western hegemonic interference to undermine his achievements and slander his character, aimed ultimately at overthrowing him.

          I certainly wouldn’t regard anything written by HRW to be unbiased – their position in analysing the situation is eminently evident from the article you have linked to.

          OK, my opinion is just that. I wouldn’t be arrogant enough to say that everything is a bed of roses for everyone in Syria and that, if not Assad himself, some who serve under him may not be people of humanitarian integrity. But, as we see so often, there are two sides to every story.

          • Laguerre

            Bashshar al-Asad is the ‘nice’ figurehead that represents the Asad mafia family. The rest are a lot worse than him, the gentle eye-doctor from Acton. But still the whole family, although mafia-ish, are nowhere nearly as bad as Saddam was. He was a real monster, who openly admired Stalin and his techniques (picture of Stalin on his bedroom wall). The Asad regime are rather brutal, in a rather insensitive sort of way, as the Syrians I know say, but the regime was livable in a way that Saddam’s wasn’t. I had a lot to do with Syrians, as I did with Saddam’s regime, and was placed to compare them.

          • Borncynical

            Laguerre (@20.29)

            Thanks for this insight. From what you gathered from the Syrians you spoke to did you get the impression that Bashar al-Assad himself is acceptably moderate but some of those who control the security and armed forces are the ones who are perceived as having a tougher approach and are left to their own devices? It would be interesting to know. So often it is Assad himself who is accused by his detractors of being ‘a bad man’ but I must confess I struggle to see this.

          • Mary Pau!

            I have always assumed that Assad is not so much a Kim Jung-un figure, as a puppet figure in the hands of a brutal military-political class inherited from his father. With Russian support.

          • Laguerre


            To answer your 23.10 question, I don’t think the Syrians I’ve known distinguish between Asad and the rest of the regime, and they certainly have not compared the Syrian situation to other Arab countries. You either find Asad tolerable, or you detest him for some reason, like your cousins have been killed. There doesn’t seem to be any attempt to evaluate objectively how good or bad the regime is.

          • giyane

            There is no doubt that the Ba’ath dictators were / are cruel, especially when they found out the extent to which the US was interfering in what they regarded as their sovereign states.
            By definition, anything which is subject to electoral change has to be moderate, and by definition anything outside of electoral control is always violent and immoderate, whether that be the UK intelligence services, Al Qaida, Saudi Royalty or the Womens institute.

            Every institution which sees itself as above the law will by definition practice violence and cruelty. Still. a little bit of motes and beams is always good for galvanising people to a fight.

        • Jen

          One has to be wary of Human Rights Watch as a credible source of information about Syrian issues (and indeed the issues concerning other nations such as Venezuela and Iran) given that the organisation has very close ties to the United States government and many of its most senior officials happen to be former US State Department employees.

          “Nobel Peace Laureates to Human Rights Watch: Close Your Revolving Door to U.S. Government” (, May 2014)

          “Nobel Peace Laureates Slam Human Rights Watch’s Refusal to Cut Ties to U.S. Government” (, July 2014)

          As the second letter to HRW notes, HRW failed to criticise US government actions behind a coup in Haiti in 2004 which forced the removal of Jean-Bertrand Aristide as President of the country and his forced exile in the Central African Republic.

      • Vivian O'Blivion

        The three hour documentary that neglected to mention that uncle Rifaat al-Asaad, the “Butcher of Hama” lives in the SE of England!

        • Loony

          There is no shortage of foreign criminals living in the UK. They range from participants in the Rwanda genocide through to Afghans with a penchant for tying other Afghans to tank tracks, through to both Ukrainian and Finnish nationals imprisoned for trying to start a race war.

          To inquire into any of this makes you racist – so best to move on and pretend you you simply can’t see anything

          • SA

            “To inquire into any of this makes you racist ..”
            That is rather disingenuous Loony. You know very well that many of these so called criminals are actually good criminals because they often bring in lots of money and investment. Witness the amount of Saudi money sloshing around.

    • Deb O'Nair

      Assad’s brutality is that, as the head of state of a sovereign nation, he ordered his military to defend Syria against a NATO/Gulf state proxy army made up of 100,000’s mercenaries recruited from all over the world by NATO/Gulf intelligence services, who then proceeded to commit acts of extreme inhuman depravity against masses of Syrian civilians.

      Assad is one of the most Western styled and secular leaders in the region who’s biggest crime was maintaining contacts with Russia and Iran, and it was the geopolitical desire to hurt Russia (by losing a regional ally and it’s only naval base outside Russia) and bisect the Shia crescent, allowing the fall of Hezbollah supported Lebanon, with the aim of removing Iranian influence and ultimately repossessing control over Iran’s oil reserves (which has been a US objective since 1980)

      War is brutality personified, to suggest that “Assad’s brutality is not in doubt” because he was forced to fight for his country is nonsense. Assad’s approval rating amongst Syrians is now close to 80%, even during the bleakest days he polled ~70% (according to Western pollsters).

      • giyane


        “he ordered his military to defend Syria against a NATO/Gulf state proxy army made up of 100,000’s mercenaries recruited from all over the world by NATO/Gulf intelligence services, who then proceeded to commit acts of extreme inhuman depravity against masses of Syrian civilians.”

        The only redeeming feature of those takfiri jihadists imho is that they had been torture-rendition-brainwashed into a state of blind rage by the successors of European Nazism.
        (soft whisper) Our government.

    • Ghost Ship

      Just imagine if the Saudis and Qataris started to fund and arm jihadists among Europe’s Muslim population and sent foreign jihadists to support them. The European governments concerned would be just as brutal against those jihadists as Assad has been against the jihadists in Syria.If anything some of the European governments responses would be far more brutal with their armies being far more capable than the SAA was in the beginning.
      If responsibility for the vast majority of deaths in Syria resides anywhere it is with Obama, Clinton, Cameron, May, Sarkosy, Hollande and others, because without their support the fighting in Syria would have been over in weeks with only a few thousand dead on either side..

      • SA

        But we would have been using precision weapons with collateral damage rather than indiscriminate ‘barrel bombs’

  • Andy

    Of course, the other elephant in the room is the, continued, disappearance of the Skripals.
    At some point the UK is going to have to release the Skripals, then mabe some of the truth will filter out.

    • Hatuey

      They could be released on condition of silence. It’s not like we are talking about innocent bystanders who happened to get caught up in something — Sergei was/is involved in the black arts and on “our” side vis a vis Russia. He’d understand the need to keep quiet on certain things.

      • ADKC

        By inference, this means that at present Sergei cannot be trusted to keep silence.

        Also, by inference – whatever Sergei knows is much more threatening to the powers that be, something outside the norm (even for spies), and something that, the powers that be, don’t trust Sergei to be silent about.

        If (as you say Sergei understands the conventions regarding keeping quiet) then the whole thing should have wrapped up by now.

        I expect the intention was that should both have died but something happened that made that impossible.

        • Hatuey

          Your inferences are conjectures.

          We have no way of knowing why they are currently still detained, assuming they are. It could be down to a desire to protect them from Russians who have allegedly tried to harm them, rather than British concerns as to what they know and what they might say.

      • nwwoods

        Official Secrets Act of 1889, 1911, 1920, 1939 and 1989 might suffice assist in ensuring his and Julia’s silence, unless either or both wish to risk prison, fines, deportation or all of the above.

    • intp1

      I can see only option (wherever the Skripals are, dead or alive) to have them succumb to a supposed delayed reaction to their ¨exposure¨.
      That in itself would come with some tricky complications – Autopsy, Inquest, Repatriation of remains – but not insurmountable obstacles, given time for deceptive officials to construct more lies.

  • `Carlyle Moulton

    If one drops 2 cylinders of chlorine gas from an aircraft flying at 4000 metres how closely would one have to synchronize their release for them to end up side by side after falling through the same hole in the ceiling and if they were dropped not from actual bomber aircraft but thrown out the rear hatch of a cargo plain along with the along with Assad’s favorite barrel bombs I would not expect them to be closer than tens of metres.

  • Greg Park

    George Monbiot has no qualms accepting the official narrative that Assad would repeatedly decide to do the one thing he has been informed would warrant a US regime changing. Just as his government’s victory in the civil war seemed assured.
    It begs the question whether self styled adversarial journalists like Monbiot are really that credulous. Or whether there is more to it than that.

      • Conall Boyle

        Monbiot has form as a consensus-backing useful idiot. See for example his laudatory piece on the White Helmets.

        Now for the tricky bit: If he can be such a fool on such obvious topics, is his passionate environmentalism a load of codswallop, too? Only asking.

        • pretzelattack

          could be, given his hypocrisy, but what did you have in mind specifically/

        • J

          He’s done a lot of fine journalism over the years and given the constraints of all MSM recently a certain obduracy is part of the job. Perhaps he was frightened by someone or something. Perhaps he really does believe what he’s writing about Syria. If so, it’s difficult to imagine the degree of groupthink at the Guardian today.

    • Borncynical


      I’m sure you probably find, like me, that as you follow one recommended internet link, you find another one and another… In doing so, I just came across this article by Tim Hayward profiling Monbiot’s transition from someone who commendably expressed concern in 2002 about the influence of the US on the machinations of the OPCW, to someone who without question promulgates the official narrative on everything connected to Syria, relying very heavily on non-credible sources. Regrettably this article passed me by when it was first published; it is very illuminating on a number of levels.

      • Borncynical

        As an after-thought to my comment at 19.27, it struck me that it’s very strange that despite Monbiot being so vocal about undue influence exerted by the US on the OPCW in 2002 he has been completely silent about the recent OPCW leak. Surely one would have expected him, of all people, to voice his demands for confirmation that such outside influence was not once again dictating the work of the OPCW and, indeed, other international bodies and NGOs. But no …complete silence. I suppose the trouble is he’s trying to work out how he can square his previous suspicions about US bullying hegemonic practices with his pro-war stance on Syria, without looking like an idiot. Truth is, he can’t.

        • Greg Park

          Exactly. If he cares at all about being taken seriously as a principled figure Monbiot should have been one of the loudest voices highlighting this OPCW leak and saying he had been cynically misled.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    To everyone…

    Since the topic is:-

    “The World: What is Really Happening”

    Consider this. The two large economies in the world are that of the US and China. President Trump has declared a ‘Trade War’ which continues to wage on between the two economic giants. Is this a case of misguided economic policies; an instance of misinformed political hubris; an instances of US foreign policy dictated necessity; or something else? Do consider the contents of the video following and then reflect.

    • Loony

      China is very interesting.

      If you believe in man made climate change and resource constraints then China is destined to collapse – presumably in a very violent way.

      If neither of these things prove to be near term constraints then China is unstoppable – Trump is just buying time to allow the US to reconfigure itself. If this works then the US should come out of it all relatively OK – perhaps better than it is today as it will need to rein in its costly and wasteful global operations.

      The big are losers are going to be Europeans. The next stage for China is to move into mass market advanced precision engineering. That spells the end for the German economy, and as the German economy is the engine of the EU then it also spells the end for the EU. Historically Europeans do not respond well to permanent economic hardship. All of which brings us back to China and their witty little curse of “May it be your fate to live in interesting times”

      • nevermind

        You know about as much of Germanys engineering prowess and know how baded on constant R&D, as a horse has of making coffee? Loony and as much as you would like to ser the.end of the EU and peace in Europe, it will not happen.
        China made the mistake of expanding too fast too early and their increading selfinflicted social problems, pollution and oppression of Uighurs and or Tibetans will be subject of my ire in future.
        The worrying aspects for them and us id the non functioning WTO, riven by political sanctions that are tearing its regulatory framework apart.
        Trumps tradewar is what will hinder the Eu who has substantual agreements with some 51 countries. We do note have agreements with these countries anymore if we leave outright, non of these countries will want to jeorpadise their access to the EU by trading with a country known for running away from agreements.

        Thats what ought to entertain your few grey cells.

      • pretzelattack

        lol “if you believe in man made climate change”. china does, hence its investment and research in renewables.

        • Loony

          Consider that the UK has a total installed generation capacity of 85 GW and then consider that China has a total installed coal capacity of 960 GW with a further 340 GW of capacity under construction.

          Can’t you see the sheer idiocy of your comment. What does it matter how much renewable energy you have when you are simultaneously constructing new coal plant equivalent to 4 times the total all sources installed capacity in the UK.

          If you are a climate change zealot then you have no choice other than to shut down China by whatever means are necessary. The fact that you lack both the ability and the intent to do this proves that either you do not believe in climate change or that you simply do not care one way or the other.

          • pretzelattack

            consider that the total population of china is almost one and a half billion, the total population of the uk (as it presently stands) is 67 million, and then the consider that the average chinese person is responsible for much fewer emissions, and then consider the idiocy of your comment.
            I am no more a climate change zealot than I am a moon landing zealot, or a gravity zealot, or an evolution zealot. the fact that you continue to misuse labels more appropriate for ideology or religion shows your very shallow and misinformed understanding of the subject.

  • Ghost Ship

    At least the usual suspects aren’t yet accusing the Russians of hacking the OPCW to implant a fake report by Ian Henderson. ( Perhaps the Russians knew just how corrupted the OPCW was/is and decided to collect any evidence they could find on OPCW computers to make that corruption public.

    “Still more revealing is the reaction from the OPCW – which rather than acknowledge there is a major problem with the conclusions of its Douma report, has started a witch hunt for the whistleblower who leaked the Henderson report.” – One way of confirming that the report is genuine without being seen to do so.Maybe there are some within the OPCW who understand how corrupted it is.

    • Tatyana

      Hm, a few russians so stupid that stuffed the car with spy equipment, parked it by OPCW building and tried to hide the antenna under a jacket. Not to forget they conveniently kept a receipt for taxi services from GRU headquarters to Schiphol airport (My God, a receipt for a taxi in Russia!).
      I’d say what I think about these spies, but I’d rather be silent. Let everyone think they caught the real ones.

  • Tatyana

    from the link that Borncynical shared

    “those in OPCW who have suppressed the evidence of staging are, unwittingly or otherwise, colluding with mass murder…We would welcome any initiative to set up a legal defence fund for OPCW staff members who come forward publicly as whistleblowers.”

    Сoincides with my thoughts about Mr. Assange. People who intend to violate their employment contract, confidentiality agreement, lose income and pension rights, such people should have at least some guarantees, if not the law that will protect them.

  • writeon

    I suppose for us, as people living in the UK, the worst part about this Douma incident, is what it reveals about the character of the British media in general, the role they willingly play in uncritically pushing a pro-war narrative supplied by the government; even though this narrative is full of more holes than a Swiss cheese, is internally inconsistant, logically absurd and based mostly on bias, prejudice and downright lies.

    It’s also important to remember that we aren’t talking about just corrupt ordinary Westminster politics here, the usual Establisment bias and the systematic destruction of the critical oppostion, the domestic propaganda civil war; the Douma skam, so brazen it beggars belief that anyone could take it seriously, relates to war and peace, and potentially war with Russia over Syria, and Russia isn’t just another state. Russia is a nuclear power and one that’s been backed into a corner, feeling that it’s fighting for very survival against an impressive alliance of aggressive enemies that have rolled right up to its’ border heartland, meaning no more retreat is possible.

    How credulous does one have to be to funcition as a journalist in the UK at the present time? Even when the state and the security forces are shown to be twisting the truth over and over again in order to justify our latest military aggression against some foreign state we wish to topple; our journalists are ‘re-born’ every day and remember nothing from the past and learn nothing about the present either. The Guardian, once a liberal publication, now functions as a mouthpiece for the security services, uncritically pushing absurd stories designed to massage and calm the very liberal opinion that just might object to our newest military adventures, that could easily go horribly wrong and lead us into a direct confrontation with a nuclear armed Russia.

    The security services seem to be ‘grooming’ the public for possible/likely military conflict with Russia at some point in the future.

    • MJ

      Despite a historical and mutual antipathy Britain and Russia usually end up on the same side.

      • Wikikettle

        The world will suffer the actions of the Rouge States until it scraps ‘Citizens United’ and the ‘Electoral College’. Bolton will get his attack on Iran one way or the other. There is no way the Persians are going to bow down and capitulate.

      • Mighty Drunken

        It is weird how long ago the The Great Game was and how it has continied to this day. Maybe the British and Russians are very similar. Therefore we end up competing over similar prizes.

        • Wikikettle

          Mighty Drunken. The Great Game was about stopping Russia having a warm water port. Russia has the biggest land mass to defend and no natural barriers, only easy corridors. We are not competing for similar ‘prizes’ at all. Its easy to blockade Russia and China. In the case of China, to cut off all imports of raw materials it lacks, just like we did to Japan prior to Pearl Harbour. We for a while achieved world domination and the US has tried to replicate since our decline. Russia and China do not want colonies as Germany did twice and failed. They have enough problems keeping secure within their own borders and providing for their populations. Yet we insist on trying to meddle, sanction and break up.

          • Wikikettle

            We should be concentrating on things like a National Investment Bank, making our own cars in Sunderland, Swindon and Birmingham when the Japanese and Indians leave. Building ships not for war but trade. Training and apprenticeships. Reform the BBC to be a true public broadcaster to inform and educate. After WW2 we were broke. Yet we managed to create the NHS and provide new jobs and council housing. Everything is sold off now and privatised. What happened to Thatchers ‘great share owning democracy’. The ‘greed is good project’ failed. Our ruling class will do everything to divert attention.

    • Blissex

      «How credulous does one have to be to funcition as a journalist in the UK at the present time?»

      I suspect that “credulous” is not quite the right word. If the UK security services work like other mafia-style organizations, they begin with offering small favours to young journalists on the make, a bit of funding here, some hints towards a harmless scoop there, a little word in the ear of someone to help their promotion, etc. etc., and then when they are fully compromised, they had better follow the line they are given.

      A journalist who naively or eagerly accepts that “sponsorship” is likely to have a better career than one that is careful not to be compromised, also because those that are not compromised may end up blacklisted or otherwise disadvantaged.

  • Arioch

    Twitter download, part 2

    Craig! the online-service i mentioned above is easy to use, but it does not work on NSFW twitter video.

    Seems there is one more option, form a fingertips.

    Download and install a German open-source program jDownloader dot org

    Granted, it is not about video at all, video is but added bonus.
    But when it is about YoiuTube an Twitter ( and about the particular Twitter page you linked ) – it works too.

    Step by step:

    1) you download and install jDownloader
    2) you run jDownloader. Since it is most probably you would only run ut very rare, it makes sense to always run it through the extra “update&rescue” icon to keep it up to date wit hall the online changes
    3) when main jDownloader window opened, you go the second tab, “links capture”
    4) you hot bottom left corner and press “add link to capture” button
    5) in new window you paste the twitter target post URL, and you set the target folder to save video to. Press Ok
    6) the new capture-task is added to the bottom of the list, right-click it and in the menu click “start task”
    7) switch back to the first tab “downloading”
    8) in the bottom of the list there you would see your video, hopefully started. If not – right click it and choose “start downloading”
    9) after the video file is downloaded – right click it and now you may choose “open file” to watch video or “open folder” to copy that video file to some another place


    • Peter

      This site (below) seems to work fine, is very easy to use and works for most sites.

      Just fill in the url, select preferred resolution from those offered and away you go:

  • Crispa

    In terms of “The World, What is Really Happening”, the recently published countries’ military spending tables provide a good reflection. Top by far is the USA (just under 600 billion dollars), about 60 % more than China (250 bill.) with its huge population, then third is Saudi Arabia (67 bill) – population about 20,000 000 and and India (66 bill) – population nearly a billion. Russia (61 bill) at 6 is sandwiched by two NATO countries France (63 bill) and the UK (50 bill).
    In another table, Israel (population 8 – 10 million?) spends about 20 bill with also USA propped up Iraq a little less. Israel spends more percentage wise of its GDP than Russia. Top 4 here are all American supported or effectively colonized (Oman, Iraq, Saudi Arabian and Afghanistan)
    That “menacing threat” to USA interests Iran does not feature in the top 15 in any table, nor that other “threat” Venezuela. No prizes for judging where the biggest threat to world peace and stability comes from.
    (Source, among others,

  • Thorvid

    Craig, please can you add to this and try to explain how it is possible for Sky news to interview a commander of a terrorist designated organization HTS, [designated as such by both the US & UK], and then broadcast it.

    Broadcast it with other highly questionable statements about how they were targeted by the dictators forces even though they were clearly marked as press. Something that is clearly not the case from there own VT. where are the blue helmets and flack jackets marked in white with press? No where to be seen! Replaced with black, green and camouflage. While carrying tripods and carmeras, which we know from statements from police in fatal shootings are easily mistakable as guns……
    Additionally, who was there guide? A well known supporter of terrorist organizations, it would seem.
    How else would a Western press crew get into a terrorist held area, an area by there own admission that was devoid of all civilians as they had fled, and get to keep there heads, let alone there freedom?!?
    I’m sure they had all the appropriate paperwork from the Syrian Government, and didn’t enter ilegally via Turkey…..

  • Tony

    One thing that stands out about all the White Helmets’ efforts is their complete and utter amateurism. From the incompetently-staged false flag scenes, with all their inconsistencies, through to their videos with their Laurel and Hardy facial expressions and daft body language and movement. The person putting these clowns up to this is obviously a complete fuckwit, a proper Establishment ‘Tim Nice But Dim’. Step forward Mr James Le Mesurier for your director’s Oscar. Unfortunately, whilst we’re not sure if any animals were harmed in the making of Le Mesurier’s movies, we know that many men, women, and especially children were cold-bloodedly murdered.

  • Michael Droy

    Peter Hitchens has found the best debunking of Monbiot.

    Back in 2002, he wrote on how the US wanted to strong arm Brazil into withdrawing its head of the OPCW (I wonder why).

    Chemical coup d’etat
    George Monbiot
    The US wants to depose the diplomat who could take away its pretext for war with Iraq
    Tue 16 Apr 2002 02.28 BST First published on Tue 16 Apr 2002 02.28 BST

    On Sunday, the US government will launch an international coup. It has been planned for a month. It will be executed quietly, and most of us won’t know what is happening until it’s too late. It is seeking to overthrow 60 years of multilateralism in favour of a global regime built on force.
    The coup begins with its attempt, in five days’ time, to unseat the man in charge of ridding the world of chemical weapons. If it succeeds, this will be the first time that the head of a multilateral agency will have been deposed in this manner. Every other international body will then become vulnerable to attack. The coup will also shut down the peaceful options for dealing with the chemical weapons Iraq may possess, helping to ensure that war then becomes the only means of destroying them.

    The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) enforces the chemical weapons convention. It inspects labs and factories and arsenals and oversees the destruction of the weapons they contain. Its director-general is a workaholic Brazilian diplomat called Jose Bustani. He has, arguably, done more in the past five years to promote world peace than anyone else on earth. His inspectors have overseen the destruction of 2 million chemical weapons and two-thirds of the world’s chemical weapon facilities. He has so successfully cajoled reluctant nations that the number of signatories to the convention has risen from 87 to 145 in the past five years: the fastest growth rate of any multilateral body in recent times.

    • Borncynical


      Indeed. I spotted this as well and have posted some comments on Monbiot above (at 19.27 and 19.38). I must have been writing my thoughts when you posted.
      Interestingly, Monbiot remarks in his 2002 article that, basically, the UK should take the opportunity to stand up to the US and not support the ousting of Bustani. But it’ll come as no surprise to you that the UK, Germany and Ireland voted in support of the US. France abstained.

      • Tatyana

        Borncynical, I read the second your link

        …Kalman Kallo investigating alleged chemical attacks on the Syrian Army in Aleppo in 2016 …
        there’s a link to his Linkedin profile, which says that his education includes US Army Chemical School

        Another name in the report is Leo Buzzerio, the head of the OPCW Information Cell with responsibility for collection and analysis of open-source materials, graduate of US Army War College
        On his profile he congratulates Vince
        Vincent Martinelli, another graduate from US Army War College, currently describes himself International Security Expert, U.S. Army Colonel, Special Forces, Foreign Area Officer

        I’ve got one question. What are the principles of OPCW HR managment?

        • Tatyana

          Leo Buzzerio’s skills in intelligence analysis confirmed by

          interesting Mr. William Cosby from Pentagon
          interesting Mr. Bryan Lee, US Army Eurasian Affairs Specialist
          interesting Mr. Stefan Wallace from Pentagon
          interesting Mr. David Hickcox from Pentagon

          That briefing note says “… a US military intelligence officer. Clearly Lt-Col Buzzerio would have been in a difficult position if he had presented evidence that this incident which provoked a US-led missile strike on Syria had been staged.”

          They are damned right!
          What’s going on?

        • Borncynical


          Thanks. Very interesting. It does beg the question as to how deep US influence is embedded.

          I also read on Vanessa Beeley’s Twitter pages that a Tunisian member (named by Ms Beeley but the name escapes me) of the Fact Finding Mission to Douma left there after three days and went from there to Turkey where he met up with the leader of the White Helmets. If I recall correctly, she, or someone connected to her, contacted the OPCW to ask for an explanation but have had no response. Of course I have no means of verifying or validating any of this. Curiouser and curiouser.


          • Tatyana

            Turkey, Turkey… I recall that russian sources claimed Gaziantep, Turkish city to be the place where western countries get their info from. Must be the White Helmets’ headquarters.
            Also, Macron claimed they posessed the blood samples of the victims. Why FFM refused the exhumation then?

          • Borncynical

            Tatyana (@23.19 & 23.28)

            Thanks for finding the reference to the FFM representative’s ‘visit’ to Turkey.

            I am pretty sure that the blood samples from victims referred to by Macron were purportedly samples taken from the live victims (i.e. the ones seen in the staged hospital scenes). The main, published OPCW report mentioned that the FFM had looked into the possibility of exhuming the bodies of the photographed victims but decided not to proceed because of “conditions” attached to the procedure by the Syrian authorities. No explanation of what those inhibiting “conditions” were.


  • Tony

    Kempe, instead of trying to divert the thread into wildly offtopic, could you please get back to your engineering theories about air speed, flight trajectory, tensile strength, wooden bed strength, gas cylinder valve stability, and the ability of an object to resume a horizontal flight path after it has fallen through a roof?

  • BrianFujisan

    Great Article Craig.. Thanks.

    The Brave Tom Duggan is always in the thick of things in Syria.. I have communicated with him too.. He is a Fellow Martial arts Expert.

    Here is his response to the Bias Ch 4 Film – ‘ For Sama ‘

    ” For Sama a one sided documentary screens at the Cannes film festival .
    Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts . A Channel 4 production TV.

    Covers a woman called Waad Al Kateab who is based in Allepo with terrorist side .her marriage her new born child documenting the events that took place .one sided events .from the teŕorists prospective

    What it shows are Syrian army and the Russians bombing East Allepo.
    What it does not show is terrorists . Shelling west Allepo nor does it address the fear that was used by the terrorists to keep people in check .it does not address the forced marriages. The theft of factory s or the 500 shells from hell canons fired into west Allepo targeting civilian areas .university’s schools and hospitals .On a daily bases .so they have taken this woman’s video added other clips .and a narrative that misses many points .such as the humanteriain corridor that was shelled by terrorists .the people who were shot by terrorist because they tried to escape .
    The cease fire broken every time by terrorist .
    Channel four paid for this .pure properganda .from MSM. The white helmets .in an interview both Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts .Talk about how it’s still going on in Idlib. Watch the interview listen to what they say .all one sided channel four bullshit
    The story of people who were there is the line they use

    Edward Watts you were never there . I was .I been in more towns and city’s than any other westerner. And witnessed liberation from terrorism .people held captive by your so called moderate rebels. Terrorists .
    Listen to interview the part on Idlib is very interesting. All one sided properganda

  • Mighty Drunken

    Something I find “amusing” is what if Assad forces did drop the cholrine cylinders? The result should be, “So what?”. Cholrine does not even count as a wartime chemical weapon. War is ugly, if the cylinders contained high explsosive the result would be similar. Well except that cholrine usually would just ruin your day and you would run outside.

    The Iraq war was similar, so many millions of hours about whether Saddam had WMDs. Everyone else has WMDs. If you are wondering if Saddam had WMDs and thinking our war is Just then you have lost the plot.

    The real question is does US and allies have the philisophical right to enact regime change. Discuss 🙂

    • Tatyana

      I do not agree that the result would be similar.
      People are warned about bombing. Those who don’t want to leave stay in the area and find a shelter, usually it is a basement. In case of a bomb they are protected. In case of chlorine (heavier than air) they will die. Moreover, trained people try to escape chlorine by going to higher places, thus they go exactly towards the deadly canisters.
      It is dirty weapon, Mighty Drunken.

      • Kempe

        Those who don’t want to leave stay in the area and find a shelter, usually it is a basement. In case of a bomb they are protected. In case of chlorine (heavier than air) they will die.

        Exactly why Assad uses it.

        Thousands were killed by chlorine in WW1.

        • BrianFujisan

          You come on here.Like the BBC ..Ch 4 ect Spout lies.. AND YOU KNOW YOU ARE LYING.

          Next thing you’ll be lying about Uk aided Mass starvation of Yemeni children…And Don’t ask for Link’s Esp Photos.

        • Borncynical

          “Thousands were killed by chlorine in WW1”

          No they weren’t.

          “Chlorine was inefficient as a weapon – colour and smell made it easy to detect but it was an effective ‘terror’ weapon. The simple expedient of covering the mouth and nose with a damp cloth was effective at reducing the impact of the gas.”

          “The deficiencies of chlorine were overcome by the introduction of phosgene first used by France in 1915. It was more difficult to detect but the drawback was that it could take 24 hours for symptoms of exposure to be manifested, incapacitating victims only the next day. Phosgene was sometimes combined with small quantities of chlorine as the lighter weight of the latter helped disperse the gas. The first combined phosgene/chlorine attack was by Germany in 1915. Eighty eight tons of gas were released from cylinders causing 1069 casualties and 69 deaths. The British designed gas masks to counteract the effect of chlorine gas attacks but these masks failed to work as intended (ineffective when dry and suffocating when wet) and caused the deaths of scores of men.”

          “The British first used chlorine in 1915 but this was deployed into the face of the wind and the gas blew back into British trenches; the wrong turn keys were supplied with the cylinders and whilst attempts were made to overcome this the Germans struck the cylinders releasing the gas in British trenches; gas masks heated up and eye pieces misted over and troops had no choice but to remove the masks, being affected by the gas as a consequence.”

          (cf Wikipedia – chemical weapons in WW1)

          …now mustard gas, in terms of potential physical damage – short and long-term – that was the ‘daddy’ of them all in WW1.

          Focusing on British gas casualties on the Western Front in WW1, ‘Wiki’ cites 180,539 non-fatal casualties and 5,981 fatal, of which 1,363 were as a result of chlorine exposure.

          • Kempe

            ” Focusing on British gas casualties on the Western Front in WW1, ‘Wiki’ cites 180,539 non-fatal casualties and 5,981 fatal, of which 1,363 were as a result of chlorine exposure. ”

            Well there you are, you’ve contradicted yourself. Add in the number killed by chlorine use on other fronts, against Russia for example, and it’s use against Germany by the British and French and you have deaths in the thousands. Certainly it was not as effective as later gases such as phosgene but it was still a war gas.

            In WW1 gases were also used in the open air which would make them much less effective than if released in a confined space like a cellar.

          • Borncynical

            Kempe (15.07)

            “if released in a confined space like a cellar”.

            But in the case of Douma it wasn’t released in a cellar. Well, that is unless it was a massacre perpetrated by someone other than the SAA.

            2 cylinders were identified by witnesses as potential carriers of chemical weapons and investigated by OPCW FFM. One found “top floor patio/terrace of an apartment block, next to a crater-like opening in the reinforced concrete roof leading to a room below”. Second one found “lying on a bed in a top floor room of an apartment, with a crater-like opening in the reinforced concrete roof above the room”.

            I recall when the site of this ‘attack’ was shown on TV the building in question was at least four storeys high, possibly more. How exactly did chlorine gas find its way from the top floor of an apartment block down through presumably open air on each level it passed through and several layers of dense concrete, and into a cellar? I would have thought that several dense layers of concrete would have been pretty effective at minimising any risk of serious poisoning by chlorine gas.

        • pretzelattack

          you still lying about assad using chlorine in this incident? why? why did the jihadists use it to frame assad, i might ask, but the answer is self evident–they knew it would convince fools and shills no matter how many holes there are in the story.

    • Hatuey

      If every country in the world had nukes, I’m sure we’d all get along better. I guess that’s what motivates NK and Iran.

      • lysias

        The Iranian government says nuclear weapons are prohibited by Islamic law. It’s a pity Christian authorities have not reached a similar conclusion. They really are satanic weapons.

        • Hatuey

          They’re more satanic if you don’t have them and face a bastard who does…

      • Sharp Ears

        Oh great! Then some mad man gets control and whoosh, off we all go into oblivion.

    • Tatyana

      You’ve put the question “So what?” that prompted me to think.
      If there had been adult men with guns gassed to death, the whole story would have been less shocking. I’m scared to reveal this sentiment in me.

      Here is the list of killed
      Look close, nearly the half of the list is with names, they are families, it is clearly seen from their surnames.

      Another half of the list are unknown victims. So, why FFM refused to exhume the bodies? DNA test could reveal their identities. I suppose if one has photos, video, DNA samples and the names of the other half so it would be easier to identify the unknown victims.

      Where did the women and children come from? Who are they? Are they the families of the rebells? Or were they captured by the rebells?

  • Fwl

    Sad to say that there is a pattern. In politics we try to work together, which requires technical input but also meaning or a story.

    Technocrats are incompetent so end up surrendering goodwill and flogging off to Pfizer funds.

    Meaning is found only in simple negative narratives. Anti abortion, racism, and better off out or better off independent. We need to work on a positive meaning and a positive purpose in working together. Not fear and not derived from opinion polls or mass psychologists. It has to be something that works and is not blandly simple. Dangerous situation if a one issue party is able to gear up for a first past the post election. It has offered a meaning to its voters based on a single issue of leaving. SNP May be politically very different but also offered a meaning based on leaving (albeit it also remaining).

    Easy to see how Brexit, SNP & Greens offer elements of a story or meaning and how Labour and Conservatives appear to be spiritless technocrats. Liberals don’t really offer a simple big story save to say it’s not as easy as simple narratives suggest and ordinary people have to be involved not only elites.

    The struggle is against negative narratives.

    • michael norton

      Digger I’ve not seen anything about Sergei on the BBC lately, they are usually so truthful
      I’m thinking if it was true Sergei rang home twice, while speaking in English, to his Russian family, the BBC would splash it as this would be living proof, he is not dead.

        • DiggerUK

          Thanks for responding.
          Seems to me that a phone call compromises nobodies security, so there is no good reason for either of them not to let their family know they are ok.

          Sergei is a trained operator, so little chance of a faux pas on his behalf. But the silence from Julia is beyond comprehension.
          (I wonder why nobody has auctioned the fact that her visa must have expired by now……..just saying)…_

  • nevermind

    Another great blog Craig.
    Sadly, after years of trusting George Monbiot to write factually? He seemed to have been turned during the nineties and started writing articles supporting nuclear power. His support for Jose Bustani, who’s highly dubious and forced departure, at a time when he was about to sign up Saddam to the OPCW chem weapons treaty, by bully Bolton? Was the last article I read from Monbiot.
    Will he have the stature to admit that he was wrong on the white helmets and or alledged Douma attacks?

    I somehow doubt it. The OPCW under Bustani was one of the best sipranational agencies worse their salt. Nowadays their word is not worth the excrement they produce, a mere arse trumpet of a hegemonial clique that is running the US.

    • Greg Park

      Will he have the stature to admit that he was wrong on the white helmets and or alledged Douma attacks?”

      Sadly no.

      George Monbiot Twitter
      Verified Account
      8:14 am 25 May 2019

      “The Assad apologists are out in force again, and baying for blood. It’s chilling to see how they latch onto one person’s contentious account of a single atrocity, while ignoring the vast weight of evidence for chemical weapons use and conventional massacres by the govt. #Syria”

      • Borncynical


        As we discussed earlier in this thread, it is unbelievable that someone (Monbiot) who one assumes should have an objective approach is not, at the very least, suggesting that in the context of that “one person’s contentious account of a single atrocity” an inquiry is called for.

  • Fwl

    What all parties need are a combo of what Liverpool has:Juergen Klopp and Ian Graham.

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