Aletho News


Who cares how war criminals vote?

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | May 30, 2019

Alastair Campbell has been kicked out of the Labour Party.

Apparently, he voted for the Liberal Democrats in the recent European Parliamentary elections, and then announced he had done so on Sky News. Thus putting him in breach of paragraph 2 of Labour’s Membership Rules, which states:

A member of the Party who joins and/ or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party, or supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate, or publicly declares their intent to stand against a Labour candidate, shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member, subject to the provisions of Chapter 6.I.2 below of the disciplinary rules.”

It’s a fairly open and shut case, to be honest.

And so ends the Labour career of Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s PR man, one of the key architects of the “dodgy dossier”, a man complicit in every death that resulted from the US/UK illegal invasion of Iraq.

The reaction of anyone, with even the most rudimentary grasp of ethics, should be “good riddance”.

Clearly therefore, the vast majority of the pundits, “journalists” and talking heads do not have a rudimentary grasp of ethics.

Yes, Campbell was actually defended. By journalists. And celebrities. And members of parliament.

Campbell is a “strong voice for Labour values” according to some, his expulsion is “Stalinist” according to others.

It’s time for a very serious reality check: Alastair Campbell should not be in the Labour Party.

He shouldn’t be tweeting his thoughts or giving interviews or writing columns. He shouldn’t have any power or influence or authority. He shouldn’t even be breathing free air.

He should be in the dock at the Hague, briefly. And then – hopefully – spending the rest of his time in eternity’s waiting room, carving tally marks on a cell wall.

Who cares who he voted for? He’s a fucking monster.

This is not “silly” or “old fashioned” or “predictable”. It’s just true.

As a society it’s important we try and recognise principles and morality. Virtue matters. Truth matters. There ARE absolutes. Most of the Labour MPs defending Campbell voted FOR that war. They all voted against investigations into it.

They are complicit in crimes against humanity. That is a statement of fact. And yet their opinions are treated as if they carry weight. They are assumed to have ideals, to be sincere, when their actions demonstrate this is simply not the case.

We don’t talk about Pinochet’s economic reforms.
We don’t isolate Pol Pot’s opinion on free healthcare.
We don’t defend Mussolini’s well organised internal transport infrastructure.

It is accepted that crimes of a certain scale put a mark on you that you can’t scrub off. That doesn’t change because these criminals are all well-spoken chaps with open shirt collars, it doesn’t change because they managed to slime their way out of punishment, it doesn’t change because our national ego lifts Britain above the law, and it doesn’t change because we’re all so English and confrontation makes us uncomfortable.

These people are monsters. Who they vote for does not matter. What they say does not matter. They have no values. They have no standing. They have no place in a decent world. If it were any other crime of the same magnitude that would not need to be explained.

“Progressives” will vilify Tulsi Gabbard for even daring to speak to Narendra Modi, or visit Assad’s Syria. Corbyn has been raked over the coals for talking with the IRA. Nigel Farage is considered a “Russian stooge” for deigning to even vaguely compliment Vladimir Putin.

All those people combined don’t add up to the butcher’s bill Campbell racked up in the Middle East. Not even in the most fevered, deceitful propaganda of the Western press.

But no one is talking about Iraq. When Momentum tweeted about it, they were accused of being “shallow” and “stuck in the past”.

Maybe people are just divorced from the reality. Maybe the scale warps in their minds. Maybe it’s just too big, too dreadful to actually picture.

One. Million. Dead.

The entire population of Birmingham dropping dead tomorrow.

More than double the British losses in World War 2.

9/11 happening every single day, for a whole year.

Alastair Campbell helped make that happen. He did it dishonestly. He did it deliberately. He did it for personal and political gain.

And he has not, to this day, faced any kind of punishment. In all likelihood, he never will.

If you EVER find yourself defending him, whether opportunistically to undermine Corbyn or earnestly because you see no problem with his actions, then you are through the looking glass. Your morality is tonaly inverted.

Alastair Campbell’s voting record is an irrelevance. I don’t know who he voted for, or if he voted at all. I don’t care. It probably was the Lib Dems. It’s the mootest of moot, and the media outcry about it is beyond absurd.

Every time any person who played a part in the crimes of the Iraq war is allowed to exist in our society, without reference to the immense crime they committed, we normalise the idea that murder is OK when WE do it to THEM. That our wars are mistakes, or misjudgments or “foreign policy blunders”. They don’t really count. We don’t really mean it. We’re nice.

Blair and Campbell are given column inches. Their enablers in parliament rail against “antisemitism” and for the “people’s vote”, or talk about the evil “dictators” in Venezuela or North Korea who don’t share our “values”. Their cheerleaders in the press talk up Vladimir Putin as a “pariah” because of the totally bloodless Crimean referendum, but happily chuckle through interviews with Campbell as if he isn’t soaked to the bone in the blood of innocents.

Criminals discussing Brexit and football and Love Island, like it’s all a big joke. Campbell talks “candidly” about his “battles with depression” and we’re all supposed to go “awwww!”

All the while the man who proved their criminality rots in jail, barely able to move.

The world of the media is upside down.

It is disgusting, but wholly expected. The Establishment is rallying to defend one its own, it always does.

But most people know the truth: The only thing wrong with Alastair Campbell being kicked out of the Labour party, is that it’s fifteen years too late.

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he’s forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

May 29, 2019 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | | 1 Comment

Former U.S. Forest Service Ecologist: UN species report ‘grossly’ exaggerated, used to promote UN agenda

May 21, 2019

To the United States Congress

I am an ecologist and was the director of San Francisco State University’ Sierra Nevada Field Campus for 25 years. My professional career was dedicated to promoting wise environmental stewardship. Despite my years of research to advance biodiversity, I’m gravely concerned about the recent Summary for Policymakers by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), where it suggests that 1± million species are now threatened with extinction. Based on my experience, that number is greatly exaggerated. It appears this organization grossly overstated species threats in order to promote their stated agenda that “goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors.”

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is considered the gold standard for identifying threatened species. As of 2019, they estimate that there are 1,733,200 described species (not total species) of which less than 10% (just 98,512) have been evaluated to some degree. Of those evaluated species 27,159 species appear threatened with extinction to some degree. That is a reason for concern, but the IUCN estimates of species loss are a far cry from a million.

The IPBES suggested that the total number of threatened species could be derived by calculating the proportion of yet-to-be-evaluated species, using the same proportion of evaluated species that are considered threatened. Still such speculative math would still only result in 461,621 threatened species — again quite a few less than a million.

To reach 1± million threatened species the ≈ stated, “The proportion of insect species threatened with extinction is a key uncertainty, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10 percent.” They then state that insects comprise 75% of the known 8± million animal and plant species. However, that results in an estimate of 6± million insect species which is 6 times greater than the scientific consensus. Such misleading exaggerations suggest this group has a hidden agenda.

A key understanding is that 75%± of all mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian extinctions have occurred on islands, and 86% of those extinctions were the result of introduced non-native species. Island species had not evolved the defenses needed to resist introduced rats, cats, and stoats. For example, in Hawaii, the introduction of mosquitos and avian malaria in the 1800s decimated Hawaii’s native birds.

Due to invasive species, 41%± of all highly threatened species (Endangered and Critically Endangered) now live on islands. The current threats to most island species are not the result of what humans are doing wrong today, but the result of introductions a century ago. Now aware of the problem, humans are trying to fix it.

Private conservation groups and public land managers are now working to eradicate invasive species, but those efforts require much more resources. If IPBES was truly concerned about protecting threatened species, they could simply fund these eradication efforts. There is no need for “transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors.”

Furthermore, the IUCN’s criteria for designating threatened species (the total of Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable species) allows for much subjectivity. That subjectivity allows for overstating a species condition which would inflate the threat. For example to classify a species as “Threatened,” all one needs is “an observed, estimated, inferred or suspected population size reduction” The magnitude of the reductions determines if a species is Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered. That criteria is accurate for well-studied species for which quantitative studies have been carried out. However many ICUN evaluations “have no quantitative data available on densities or abundance” from which to determine the threatened status. The population reduction is then just inferred or suspected.

An example of the problem with speculations is the Adelie Penguin. It was classified as a species of Least Concern in 2009, with a population of about 4± million individuals throughout Antarctica. They were up-listed to Near Threatened based on a 2010 climate modeling study that speculated global warming would reduce the sea ice they needed to rest on during the winter. However, after more intensive studies, researchers realized Adelie populations were actually increasing and had now doubled to 8± million individuals. Due to good quantitative studies, the IUCN reclassified Adelies as Least Concern again.

Speculation that a million species are threatened with extinction does not fully account for the conservation efforts that are improving species once they have been identified as Endangered. For example, our current hunting regulations have allowed many whale species to return from the brink of extinction. Humpback and Bowhead whales were listed as Endangered in the 1980s. They have now recovered and are listed as species of Least Concern. Quantitative studies allowed for wise hunting quotas that quickly reduced the threat to many species. Again, there is no need for a “transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors.”

Loss of habitat is a key factor that can result in species becoming endangered — and sometimes it is political decisions that can lead to these species threats.

For example, government attempts to promote biofuels based on speculations about climate change have disrupted ecosystems and threatened more species. The European Union-subsidized Palm Oil for years, resulting in the loss of tropical forest and threatening species like the Orangutans. Realizing their mistake, those subsidies will be withdrawn.

Another example is that subsidies for sugar cane as a biofuel has prevented the restoration of tropical forests in Brazil, and corn subsidies in the USA have encouraged corn plantation in the northern Great Plains disrupting prairie ecosystems and reducing aquifers.

Yet another situation is that subsidies for industrial wind energy have resulted in increased bird and bat mortalities, in addition to the well-documented eco-system disruption. These representative examples should make clear that “transformative economic and political changes” can cause more problems than they solve.

I urge Congress to carefully peruse the IPBES claims. Their assertion of a million threatened species does not stand up to scientific scrutiny. Their gross exaggerations appear to be a political gambit to control “transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors,” while offering very little to improve current efforts to protect biodiversity.


Jim Steele

Jim Steele was the director of the Sierra Nevada Field Campus from 1984 to 2010. He was Principal Investigator of the U. S. Forest Service Neotropical Migratory Bird monitoring in Riparian Habitats on the Tahoe National Forest, performed two USGS Breeding Bird Surveys in the area, and initiated the successful Carman Valley Watershed Restoration project. Contact

May 29, 2019 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 Comment

Top IDF lawyer tells The Hague to back off, says Israel can probe own alleged war crimes

RT | May 29, 2019

The Israeli military wants the International Criminal Court to butt out of its affairs, its top military prosecutor has declared in response to efforts to hold it to account for its use of live fire against Palestinian protesters.

“Israel is a law-abiding country, with an independent and strong judicial system, and there is no reason for its actions to be scrutinized by the ICC,” Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek, Israel’s military advocate, declared at an international conference on warfare laws in Herzliya. “The position of Israel is that the International Criminal Court does not have jurisdiction to discuss the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The ICC is weighing investigating Israel over its use of live ammunition against Palestinian protesters demonstrating at the Gaza border. Since March 2018, IDF soldiers have killed at least 251 people participating in the Great March of Return, a movement calling for Palestinians expelled from their land during the establishment of Israel to be allowed to return, and injured at least 26,797 more, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Earlier this year, a United Nations Human Rights Council fact-finding mission on the protests submitted to the ICC a list of Israeli officials it suspects of serious crimes, including IDF snipers, their commanders, and the military legal advisers who outlined their rules of engagement.

Afek’s objections to the ICC’s involvement center on the body’s charter, which permits it to investigate crimes only when there is no reasonable assumption that the country in which they have been committed will prosecute them adequately. Israel, he claims, will take care of its own business.

But as of March, only 11 of the protesters’ deaths were being investigated as possible criminal acts. Israel has insisted that even the journalists and medics killed by snipers – a war crime under any jurisdiction – were actually working for Hamas and therefore fair game.

Israel’s judicial system has refused to pursue investigations of alleged war crimes committed by the IDF against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza before, and the ICC has long sought to prosecute Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians. Before the Great March of Return began last year, the court was looking into whether Israel had committed war crimes during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, the seven-week bombardment of Gaza that killed 2,000 Palestinians and injured over 10,000, deliberately targeting civilians and landmark buildings according to Amnesty International. Settlement-building and the eviction of Palestinians from West Bank and East Jerusalem were also scrutinized.

May 29, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Japanese court refuses to compensate victims of forced sterilization due to statute of limitations

RT | May 29, 2019

The state is not liable to pay extra compensation to forced sterilization victims once the 20-year statute of limitations expires, a court in Japan has ruled, despite recognizing the defunct eugenics law to be unconstitutional.

Casualties of the draconian ‘Eugenic Protection Law’, which allowed involuntary sterilization of people with disabilities from 1948 to 1996, lost hope for justice on Tuesday after the Sendai District Court ruled out compensation for two victims, claiming that their time limit to take legal action against the state had long expired.

“We’ve been fighting this for 20 years, but this result has left me speechless,” NHK quoted one of the victims, who goes under the alias ‘Junko Iizuka,’ as saying after both plaintiffs rushed out of the courtroom with a banner reading ‘Unfair verdict.’

Iizuka, now in her 70s, underwent sterilization at the age of 16. She and another plaintiff, ‘Yumi Sato’, who was forced to undergo the medical procedure at the age of 15, filed lawsuits last year seeking a combined sum of ¥71.5 million ($650,000) in compensation from the state for violations of their human rights.

The central government argues that the victims lost their right to demand compensation decades ago. Last month Tokyo apologized and offered to pay each victim ¥3.2 million ($29,000) to compensate for their “physical and mental suffering.”

“We have arrived at this decision of ‘unconstitutional,’ but it is meaningless if it fails to help the suffering of the victims,” Koji Niisato, the chief lawyer for the plaintiffs, told reporters, stressing that the legal team will appeal the verdict.

The ruling was the first of about 20 compensation lawsuits filed in seven district courts across Japan that have been brought by victims of forced sterilization. Around 25,000 people were sterilized in the country under the law, including some 16,500 people who were forced to undergo the surgery against their will.

May 29, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Bolton Alleges Iran Maritime Sabotage But Evidence Points Elsewhere

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician swims toward an MH-60S Sea Hawk Helicopter after performing mine response procedures in the Arabian Gulf during Artemis Trident 19, April 9, 2019. Samantha P. Montenegro | Dvids
By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | May 29, 2019

On Wednesday, National Security Advisor John Bolton told a group of reporters in Abu Dhabi that “naval mines almost certainly from Iran” had been used to conduct the alleged “sabotage” attack on four commercial vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates’ port of Fujairah earlier this month. “There is no doubt in anybody’s mind in Washington who is responsible for this and I think it’s important that the leadership in Iran know that we know,” Bolton continued, providing no evidence for his claim.

Bolton is currently in Abu Dhabi ahead of an “emergency” summit scheduled for Thursday in Saudi Arabia, where top U.S. and allied Arab officials will “discuss the implications of the tanker attacks, and drone strikes two days later, on oil pumping stations in the kingdom.”

The murkiness that still surrounds what caused this tanker “sabotage,” as well as the very limited extent of the alleged damage, suggests that this poorly executed incident either did not go as planned or that it was a freak accident that has now been manipulated for weeks by the U.S. and its regional allies for political gain. However, Iran is far from being the clear culprit, especially given that three foreign militaries — including the U.S. Navy — concluded a mine warfare naval drill just weeks before the “sabotage” incident occurred. 

MintPress previously reported on the tanker “sabotage” attacks soon after they occurred and noted that neither the UAE or the Saudis had cast blame for the incident on any country and that the damage caused was relatively minor with no casualties. In fact, the incident was so minor that the local government of Fujairah had initially denied that any “sabotage” had taken place and maintained that its port facilities were operating normally.

Only the U.S. had cast blame prior to Bolton’s statements, with the “initial assessment” of a group of U.S. military investigators rapidly concluding that Iran or “proxies sympathetic to or working for Iran” had used explosives to damage the four commercial vessels. Public evidence to support that claim has been minimal and, at times, counter to the official narrative. For instance, one of the Saudi vessels allegedly targeted, Al Marzoqah, was seen floating without any visible damage in post-attack footage taken by Sky News, even though the Saudis had claimed that the vessel had sustained “significant damage.” One U.S. official told the Associated Press that each of the four ships had sustained a 5- to 10-foot hole near or just below the water line, but only one such hole has been observed in just one of the targeted ships.

Iran has consistently denied any involvement in the incident, with Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi warning against a “conspiracy orchestrated by ill-wishers” and “adventurism by foreigners.”

However, Bolton’s Wednesday statement echoes other recent statements made by U.S. officials that sea mines — either floating mines or limpet mines, which attach magnetically to the targeted ship’s hull — were likely responsible for the relatively minor hull damage allegedly experienced by the four ships. Top U.S. military officials — such as Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, the director of the Joint Staff — have attributed the mines to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which the Trump administration designated a terrorist organization in early April. Yet, recent events in the Persian Gulf suggest that the sea mines likely responsible for the attack may not have been of Iranian origin.

Why it’s unlikely to be Iran

Before delving into the definite possibility that the mines in question were not of Iranian origin at all, it is worth considering that even if the mine(s) that were allegedly used in the tanker “sabotage” were Iranian, they had not been planted recently by Iranian forces.

First, in the event that these were floating mines, the preparation made for the deployment of mines is often detected well before the mines are even seabound. Placing mines at sea is a massive logistical undertaking involving multiple steps that allow adversaries to detect and disrupt their deployment well in advance.

As Bob O’Donnell, a retired Navy Captain and veteran minesweeper, told Breaking Defense in 2015, the first step involves removing mines from storage facilities, given that “countries will have their mines in ammo dumps somewhere, [but] without any sensors in them. The first step is they take them out of the dumps and take them someplace where they put the sensors in.” As Breaking Defense noted, “the more mines they move, the more people and trucks they need, which makes it more likely someone will let something slip or that U.S. spy satellites will notice suspicious activity.” Then, the mines must be placed in the water, which is usually performed by ships, or aircraft or submarines in the case of specialized mines.

Given this, the lack of satellite images, which would have shown Iran’s military engaged in these types of activities that precede mine deployment, is telling. This is because Iran’s military and its movements are under heavy scrutiny from foreign governments and satellite images of alleged Iranian military or nuclear assets have frequently accompanied official narratives that push for more aggressive policies towards Iran.

For instance, satellite images that purported to show Iran’s “land bridge” from Tehran to the Mediterranean were recently released by a private Israeli company and satellite images of Iran’s nuclear facilities have often accompanied past media reports claiming that such sites have been the site of increased activity or accidents. Furthermore, a considerable part of the basis for the alleged Iranian “threat” to U.S. troops in the region, which has been the foundation for the recent rise in tensions, has also been based on satellite imagery. Those images claimed to show Iran moving missiles onto boats within their own territory. If private companies, the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence often use satellite imagery to back up their claims regarding Iran — particularly its use of military assets — the fact that such images are not present to back these claims of mine deployment is telling.

In addition, a significant portion of the mines in the Persian Gulf that are of Iranian origin are holdovers from conflicts of decades past, such as the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. During that period, Iran mined large swathes of the Persian Gulf and, in April 1988, an American ship — the U.S.S. Samuel B. Roberts — struck an Iranian sea mine, creating a 15-foot hole in the ship’s hull and nearly sinking it. Notably, this mine — which was considered unsophisticated at the time of that conflict — caused damage much more significant than caused by the mines believed to have been involved in the recent sabotage incident. Furthermore, Iran is unlikely to have sought to lay new mines given that the U.S. has previously warned that attempts to deploy mines in the area would prompt a military response.

This context leaves the following possibility for Iranian involvement in laying the mines: that Iran used small, unmarked boats to covertly lay a small number of mines (between one and four) to target a handful of commercial vessels near the Strait of Hormuz. This claim of “unmarked boats” has been made by several U.S. officials in recent weeks and is notable for the fact that the use of “unmarked boats” in no way insinuates Iranian culpability. In fact, the use of such boats makes it plausible that anyone could have laid the mines. This may explain why claims have also been made that the party responsible was an alleged proxy “either sympathetic to or working for” Iran.

Yet, even then, Iran has little or nothing to gain from this “sabotage” event, especially considering the logistical undertaking it would require to lay just a handful of mines in a busy commercial shipping zone without causing major damage. The only actual consequence of this event — following the U.S. designation of the IRGC, and following Bolton’s subsequent press release that laid a clear foundation for provoking war with Iran — is an increase of U.S. troops in the region and a further increase in the tensions that have caused considerable damage to the Iranian economy and arguably weakened the political standing of the “moderates” who currently govern Iran.

Artemis Trident

Given the increasingly slim evidence for Iran’s involvement in the sabotage, the mines in question could have come from another country’s military. Though such claims would normally be highly speculative, the fact that the Persian Gulf was the site of a major foreign military mine warfare drill just a few weeks before the attack lends credibility to such a possibility.

On April 15, just a week after the U.S. labeled Iran’s IRGC as a terrorist organization, Bolton received intelligence on the “credible threat” by Iran from his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben Shabbat, when the two met in Washington to discuss their “shared commitment to countering Iranian malign activity & other destabilizing actors in the Middle East & around the world.” That same day, thousands of miles away in the Persian Gulf, a major naval drill known as “Artemis Trident” began among the navies of the U.S., the U.K. and France. The focus of that large naval drill, which ended on April 18, was sea mine warfare in the Persian Gulf.

An Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician is hoisted onto a helicopter after performing mine response procedures during Artemis Trident/ Photo | Dvids

“Laying [mines] poses a risk to naval ships as well as merchant shipping vessels,” the U.S. Fifth Fleet said in an announcement, which continued:

As mines threaten maritime traffic indiscriminately, the U.S., France, and United Kingdom are dedicated to conducting tactical training to counter the risk of mines in order to support the continued free flow of commerce and freedom of navigation in this critical region.”

Though the militaries involved described the drill as purely defensive in nature, the U.S. contingent included Naval Task Force 52, which — according to the U.S. Navy — “plans and executes mine warfare operations in support of U.S. 5th Fleet operational objectives.” In the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Fifth Fleet has bases both in Bahrain — where Artemis Trident took place — and in Fujairah, where the now infamous “sabotage” incident took place just a few weeks later.

Not long after the U.S., the U.K. and France had concluded Artemis Trident, the U.S. Maritime Administration — a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation — stated that “Iran or its proxies could respond by targeting commercial vessels, including oil tankers, or U.S. military vessels in the Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait or the Persian Gulf.” This warning came just days before the “sabotage” incident and just a few weeks after the U.S/U.K./France drill aimed at protecting “merchant shipping vessels” from mines had concluded.

As MintPress previously reported, the U.S. Department of Transportation is currently headed by Elaine Chao, a known Iran-hawk who was paid $50,000 for a five-minute speech to the Iranian exile group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), known to actively seek regime change for Iran. Other top U.S. officials, such as Bolton, have also been paid hefty sums for appearances and speeches at MEK events, where they have openly advocated for the overthrow of the Iranian government.

The naval exercise was one of the first major naval exercises of the Fifth Fleet to take place after the sudden, mysterious death of the fleet’s commander, Admiral Scott Stearney, last December. Stearney was found dead in his home in Bahrain and the death has been labeled an “apparent suicide” and is still being jointly investigated by the Navy and Bahrain, with no new conclusions nearly six months after the fact. Stearney was known for opposing a major escalation with Iran even though he was routinely critical of what he called Iran’s “destabilizing” role in the region.

The presence of foreign, particularly U.S., mine-laying ships and divers in the region close to the same time frame as the “sabotage” incident makes it a definite possibility that the mines in question could have been American, British or French — not Iranian — in origin. In that case, the mines either could have been accidentally left over from that drill or intentionally set after the fact, given that the hardware and specialized naval vessels used in deploying mines were all present at the time of the “sabotage” incident.

While the evidence for this is circumstantial, it is worth pointing out that the same evidence being used to link Iran to the same mines is just as circumstantial and arguably less convincing, given the lack of any benefit derived from this “sabotage” attack from the Iranian point of view.

A poor man’s Gulf of Tonkin?

While it is far from certain where these mines originated or who placed them, it is clear that there is hardly any substantial evidence — based on what is publicly available — that would link the mines directly to Iran or an “Iran-backed proxy.” The small scale of the attack, the alleged use of “unmarked boats,” the timing, and the lack of any strategic or tactical benefit from the attack make the Iranian government and its military an unlikely culprit.

The fact that so much attention is being given to an incident that sunk no ship and caused no injuries or fatalities should make it clear to any thinking person that the fixation on the tanker sabotage is not driven by any real threat and is merely a pretext for Iran hawks in the U.S. and the region to ratchet up tensions — something like a poor man’s Gulf of Tonkin.

Bolton’s statements assigning direct blame for the incident — and the related and equally minor incident of a drone attack on a Saudi oil pipeline by Yemen’s resistance movement — to Iran a day prior to the Saudi-hosted “emergency” summit on this incident are clearly meant as a signal to governments in the area. Though Bolton claimed that his public statement was directed at the “leadership in Iran,” more likely targets were the governments of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other attendees of the summit who have still failed to follow the U.S.’ lead in blaming Iran for the incident.

It seems more than likely that a major effort will be made on Thursday to develop a consensus blaming Iran for these and potential future incidents in the region, as Bolton and his allies make the case for an even more aggressive Iran policy. Indeed, Bolton noted Wednesday that the goal of the upcoming summit was “to make it clear to Iran and its surrogates that these kind of activities risk a very strong response from the Americans.”

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

May 29, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , | 3 Comments

Negotiation with US ‘total loss’: Ayatollah Khamenei

Press TV – May 29, 2019

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has ruled out the possibility of talks between Tehran and Washington, saying such negotiations will be “fruitless”, “harmful”, and “a total loss”.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will absolutely not sit for talks with America … because first, it bears no fruit and second, it is harmful,” the Leader said in a meeting with a number of university professors, elites and researchers in Tehran on Wednesday.

The Leader referred to negotiation as a tactic used by Americans to complement their strategy of pressure. “This is actually not negotiation; it’s rather a means for picking the fruits of pressure.”

The only way to counter this trick, he said, is to utilize the means of pressure available for use against Americans. “If they are used properly, the Americans will either stop or decrease pressures.”

However, the Leader warned against being deceived by the US plot, saying that the Islamic Republic must use the leverage at its disposal to counter the US’ pressures; otherwise, being deceived into negotiation would be a “total loss”.

The Leader said Iran’s leverage is not military unlike what the anti-Iran propaganda says, even though that option is not off the table in case of necessity.

He referred to the recent decision by the Supreme National Security Council to reduce some of Iran’s commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal with the world, and described it as one of the means that Iran can use against the US’ pressures.

“The leverage Iran has used for now is the recent SNSC decision, but we won’t remain at this level forever, and in the next phase, if necessary, we’ll use other means of pressure,” the Leader warned.

Back on May 8, 2019, on the anniversary of the US’ withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran said that it will halt implementing some terms of the nuclear deal until parties to the deal other than US take action to mitigate the negative impacts of US decision in May 2018 to withdraw from the agreement.

The Islamic Republic says other parties to the JCPOA, particularly the E3 – France, Britain, and Germany – have failed so far to compensate for the US withdrawal and help Iran reap the economic dividends of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has set a two-month deadline for the parties to either do the necessary actions to save the JCPOA or face Iran resuming a nuclear enrichment program which had been suspended as part of the deal in return for lifting of international sanctions on Tehran.

Ayatollah Khamenei also noted that the Islamic Republic has no problem with holding negotiation with the Europeans and others, but it won’t sit for talks on “core” issues of the 1979 Revolution, including its defensive capabilities.

‘US will fail to impose deal of century on Palestinians’

Elsewhere in his remarks, Ayatollah Khamenei referred to US President Donald Trump’s so-called peace plan for the Middle East, saying that the US and its cronies will fail to impose the so-called “deal of the century” on Palestinians.

US President Donald Trump has set forth his so-called “deal of the century” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The plan is to be revealed at an undetermined date sometime after the Israeli parliamentary elections.

Since Trump took office a trio composed of his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, long-time confidant and chief legal officer to Trump’s business empire, and US Ambassador to Israel David Fried­man have been working on such a plan.

In his Wednesday comments, the Leader said that defending Palestinians was both a humanitarian and a religious duty and thus participation in this year’s International Quds Day rallies was more important than before given the ongoing sensitive developments in the region.

The International Quds Day is an annual event held on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan.

It was initiated by the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini to express support for the Palestinians and oppose the Zionist regime.

May 29, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

Latest attempt to prosecute President Assad at the ICC is further criminalisation of “international justice”

Toby Cadman. Co-founder of Guernica Chambers 37, one of legal entities bringing latest case against President Assad at the ICC. (Photo: The ICC and our politics)
By Vanessa Beeley | 21st Century Wire | May 28, 2019

In March 2019 two law firms filed cases at the ICC against Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad and unnamed members of the Syrian government. Toby Cadman of Guernica Chambers and Rodney Dixon of Temple Garden Chambers were the protagonists in this latest attempt to criminalise the Syrian President and government.

These law firms are basing their case upon the testimony of 28 “refugees” from Syria who claim they were “forced” to flee to Jordan during the war that has been waged against Syria by a collective of interventionist mafia states that form the U.S coalition, determined to achieve regime change in Syria.

Syria is not a signatory to the ICC in the Hague but precedent was set by the ICC when a preliminary investigation was opened into military leaders of Myanmar for alleged crimes against humanity involving deportation of Rohingya people. Refugees fled to Bangladesh which is party to the Rome statute that established the ICC, as is Jordan where more than 1 million Syrian refugees now reside. Guernica Chambers and Rodney Dixon are clearly hoping that the Rohingya precedent will open up the legal avenue for their case.

Both legal firms are claiming the intended deportation of Syrian civillians by the Syrian government as part of their cases.

However, even some members of the legal profession, have already remarked upon possible holes in the case being presented by both legal entities. Kevin John Heller is Associate Professor of Public International Law at Amsterdam University. According to Heller, there is a vital element of the Syrian situation that distinguishes it from the Myanmar situation. Heller argues that in Myanmar, it is evident that the government “intended to drive the Rohingya into Bangladesh” while in Syria it is not evident that the Syrian government intended (in the legal sense) that their civilians end up in other countries. Heller points out that without sufficient evidence,  the Syrian government may only be accused of “forcible transfer” but not “deportation”. “Forcible transfer” falls outside the ICC’s jurisdiction because it takes place uniquely on Syrian territory.

“In other words: for the Court to investigate the forcible displacement of Syrian civilians proprio motu, it is deportation or bust.” ~ Kevin John Heller

This is not the first time that Guernica Chambers (GC) have attempted such a legal attack against the Syrian government. In March 2017, the Madrid offices of GC tried to bring a case against eight members of the Syrian security and intelligence services. The case was based upon the testimony of a Syrian national’s sister who had Spanish citizenship. Spain is party to the Rome Statute of the ICC. The woman allegedly identified the body of her brother among the photos that were “smuggled out of Syria” and formed part of the Caesar Report which I will discuss later in this article.

Who is really behind the legal war being waged against Syria? 

I asked Peter Ford, former UK Ambassador to Syria and outspoken critic of the UK government’s role in the eight year regime change campaign in Syria, to comment on the timing of this legal initiative. Ford told me:

Nothing could be more likely to bring the ICC into disrepute than this attempted action by actors transparently serving the political agenda of the British and Qatari governments. Having failed in attempted regime change via miltant proxies Syria’s enemies are now embarked on an enterprise to secure the same result by waging economic war which must be justified by constant demonizing of Assad. That is the game being played here.
Ford went on to tell me that:
“if the ICC goes along with it, that will provide more justification for those who accuse the ICC of being a tool of the rich and powerful, and an incentive to Assad to halt any move towards elections in Syria which might see him removed from power. This is just a cheap trick designed to make political capital out of the remaining credibility of the ICC, such as it is.”

Ford pinpointed the drivers behind these legal cases and the UK Government and intelligence services must be considered as primary players. The UK/US-led intervention alliance have seen their terrorist-proxy-military-campaign fail dismally after hitting the brick wall of the axis of resistance -Syria, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia with China offering diplomatic and technological support.

What will follow is perhaps an even more destructive economic warfare campaign that will capitalise upon the post war dissonance in Syria to pressurise the Syrian state and to further foment discontent among civilians now struggling to cope with life in a Syria that has been severely impacted by 8 years of terrorist occupation and destruction of infrastructure.

Academic and acclaimed author (A History of Political Trials), John Laughland, independently concurred with Ford’s conclusions. I asked Laughland why would this case receive prominence now, just as the Syrian/Russian/Iranian/Hezbollah arc of resistance is heading towards military success in Syria? He replied:

“I believe that the reason why this attempt is being made to circumvent the fact that the International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction over Syria, is to remove Assad from power and to de-legitimise him as part of the future of Syria.  This has been the goal of the jihadists from the very beginning.”

Historian and analyst, Dr Marcus Papadopoulos, further expanded upon the timing of the legal case:

Well, talk of war crimes cases being brought against President Assad, at the International Criminal Court, has been in the air for some years now.  Indeed, I remember how such talk was emanating from Western capitals in 2012. However, there is no doubt that the today’s timing of lawyers, acting on behalf of Syrian refugees in Jordan, submitting lawsuits against the Syrian president at the ICC, is not coincidental.  Because today, the Syrian people have all but won the war against Western-backed terrorism and so by submitting cases now to the ICC is a way of Western governments subtly informing President Assad that whilst the military war against him has been lost, the legal, media and communications war against him will continue.

Furthermore, I suspect that by initiating ICC proceedings against the Syrian leader – which will only increase in volume and go on indefinitely – may be a way of the Americans and the British maintaining their military presence in Syria, as well as their sanctions on the Arab country, on the pretext that the region has a leader in power who ‘waged war against his own people, destabilising not just his country but the wider region’ hence the presence of American and British forces in Syria is a means to limiting any future ‘carnage’ that the Syrian ‘strongman’ (a favoured word from the West’s lexicon to describe leaders whom it disapproves of) can inflict on both Syria and the region.” (Emphasis added)

International criminal lawyer, Christopher C. Black, pointed out the importance of the NATO and UK government links of the legal firms:

“The answer is revealed in the lawyers who are behind this scheme to try to drag the ICC into the picture. Rodney Dixon and Toby Cadman, and, it seems, from your information, Geoffrey Nice. All of them have links to the British governent and NATO through acting for them in various capacities.”

Links to UK Foreign Office, NATO and the CIA

Guernica Chambers – offices  in London, Spain and Washington.

Toby Cadman. (Photo: Guernica 37 website)

Toby Cadman is the Co-founder and Head of Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers in London. According to the International Forum for Democracy and Human Rights (IFDHR), Cadman was hired by the UK Foreign Office in 2012 to “head a team to investigate crimes committed in the Syrian Arab Republic“.

I would challenge Cadman to demonstrate any serious investigation by Guernica into the ongoing crimes committed by the terrorist/extremist groups in Syria, armed and financed by the U.S Coalition. The fact that Cadman is a hired legal hand of one of the central players in the international campaign to reduce Syria to another Libya-style failed state, should immediately raise the alarm.

Doctors Under Fire – cluster of anti-Syria medical, legal and chemical “experts”

Cadman is also on the board of directors of Doctors Under Fire (formerly Medics Under Fire). Alongside him are Hamish De Bretton Gordon, Dr David Nott (Nott Foundation) and Dr Saleyha Ahsan.

Dr David Nott. (Photo: Nott Foundation website)

Nott has run UK Government-endorsed training courses for Syrian doctors in Gaziantep, Turkey – the hub of UK intelligence training for Syrian “opposition”, with a reputation for being the centre of ISIS organ and human trafficking operations. The flight from Istanbul to Gaziantep was known as the Jihad Express. The town itself was reported to be the area where new ISIS recruits from around the world would gather before being transported into Syria. The UK FCO-midwived and financed White Helmet propaganda construct also have their base in Gaziantep, established in 2013 by former MI6-turned-private-security expert, James Le Mesurier.

In 2013, Nott was largely responsible for the rumours that Syrian Arab Army snipers were targeting pregnant women in East Aleppo, which was freshly under control of the armed extremist gangs that included Al Qaeda in Syria, Nusra Front. The photo of a bullet lodged in an alleged foetal brain was published by most mainstream media outlets in the West without any expert second opinion regarding the credibility of such an image. Nott has operated on ISIS fighters during his forays (exclusively) into terrorist held territory of Syria.

Nott also amplified the discredited narrative surrounding Omran Daqneesh during the final moments before liberations of East Aleppo from terrorist rule. This story is now known to be another of the fraudulent campaigns to criminalise the Syrian government. This article by journalist, Steven Sahiounie, goes into depth about the bias and misprepresentation of reality by Nott during his time in the terrorist-held enclaves of Aleppo and Idlib.

Dr Saleyha Ahsan’s contradictory accounts of alleged chemical attack, showcased in BBC Panorama’s Saving Syria’s Children – forensically investigated by researcher, Robert Stuart.

Dr Saleyha Ahsan’s role in the BBC Panorama documentary, Saving Syria’s Children, has been exposed as potentially fraudulent by independent researcher, Robert Stuart. Actor and director Keith Allen is fronting a new crowdfunding campaign for a documentary examining the 2013 BBC Panorama programme Saving Syria’s Children. The project is in collaboration with British film, TV and radio producer, Victor Lewis-Smith. In 2017 Lewis-Smith challenged the BBC Panorama office over the issue. Failing to get satisfactory answers, Victor tore up a contract for a forthcoming comedy pilot with BBC Radio 4.

Hamish de Bretton Gordon. The media establishment go-to expert on chemical weapons.

Hamish de Bretton Gordon has been the go-to expert for the majority of corporate media outlets, particularly with regard to the alleged chemical weapon attacks in Syria that BG invariably blames upon the Syrian government. David Miller, Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Bristol and a member of the Academic-established Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media, stated very clearly in a recent interview that HBG:

“is an operative for MI6. He’s not a staff member of MI6 but he works very closely with MI6 in Syria trying to create evidence of chemical and biological weapons’ attacks.”

The full briefing note by the WGSPM can be found at this link: The alleged chemical attack in Douma on 7 April 2018, and other alleged chlorine attacks in Syria since 2014. 

Doctors Under Fire appears to be another compromised organisation with a focus on misleading the British public into approving further military intervention in Syria under a familiar “humanitarian” pretext. Its ties to state media and intelligence services should be examined closely before their “expert” opinions be given serious consideration.

Toby Cadman – Ibrahim Olabi – White Helmets

Ibrahim Olabi. Joined Guernica Chambers in November 2018 as a pupil barrister. (Photo: Guernica Chambers website)

The Guernica inks to UK Government intellligence operations in Syria continue. Ibrahim Olabi joined Guernica Chambers in November 2018 as a pupil barrister. According to his bio on the GC website, Ibrahim Olabi “has worked extensively on international legal matters related to the Syrian conflict, including international humanitarian law, international criminal law and international human rights law” for the last five years.

Olabi is UK educated, having completed his LLB and LLM (Security and International Law) at the University of Manchester. Olabi is the director of the Syrian Legal Development Programme (SLDP). According to the GC website:

SLDP has provided legal expertise to Syrian NGOs, including training that Ibrahim delivered to more than 550 trainees on a range of complex legal surrounding forced displacement, torture, UN mechanisms, facilitation of humanitarian aid and other matters. He has trained both in Syria, near the front lines, and in neighbouring countries.

SLDP has received funding from the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Dutch Ministry. What seems extraordinary for a “pupil barrister” who only joined GC in November 2018, Olabi has an impressive track record of influencing major global institutions and state-linked think tanks on the Syrian conflict:

Ibrahim has also advocated in Geneva, Brussels, Washington and London on human rights issues relevant to Syria. He received personal invitations from the Heads of States such as Germany and The United Kingdom, and from the UN Secretary General. Ibrahim has spoken and chaired panels in forums such as Chatham House and Amnesty International, and delivered presentations at UK universities such as UCL, SOAS, Nottingham and Manchester amongst others. He also spoken on TV channels such as the CNN and the BBC.

Training the White Helmets. (Photo from SLDP website)

Among those trained by the SLDP are the primarily UK FCO-cultivated White Helmets who are exposed as terrorist group-auxiliaries and stand accused of committing crimes against the Syrian people that include child abduction and running organ trafficking operations from inside the terrorist-occupied territories.

The White Helmets have also been instrumental in producing the Syrian “chemical weapon” narratives supported by Cadman and his associate directors at Doctors Under Fire – designed to criminalise the Syrian government, often during the closing stages of military campaigns to liberate areas under control of the Western-sponsored armed groups.

The most recent White Helmet chemical attack narrative was in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, April 2018 – an alleged attack that precipitated the French, UK, US unlawful bombing of Syria before an investigation had been carried out by the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons).

Since this event, it has been demonstrated that the White Helmets had staged the hospital scenes that were widely published by western media to support the shaky narrative. Furthermore, a leaked engineers report, omitted from the OPCW final report, has raised alarming questions over OPCW’s impartiality and independence. The revelatory engineers report was sent to the aforementioned Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media who produced the briefing note which can be found here.

Guernica Chambers Advisory Board – Steve Rapp – CIA

Ambassador Stephen J. Rapp. (Photo: Guernica Chambers)

A look at the Guernica Chambers Advisory Board members reveals that Ambassador Stephen J. Rapp is listed as a board member. International criminal lawyer, Christopher Black, had clashed with Rapp during the Rwanda tribunal when Rapp was in charge of prosecutions:

“Stephen Rapp-well, there is your link to the CIA, US government. Rapp was at one time the guy in charge of prosecutions at the Rwanda tribunal. During his tenure, 2 of his henchmen-“investigators” began interviewing a former Rwandan cabinet minister in Lille, France. The investigators were two ex Montreal cops kicked off the force for corruption. There were rumours when I was there they had murdered witnesses.

Well at some point their interview of this guy became too heavy and he wrote a letter to the President of the tribunal stating that Rapp and his men were pressuring him to give false testimony against accused before the tribunal and that if he did not they were threatening to kill him and cut his body into pieces.

Two weeks later he disappeared after going to a final interview. We raised this letter in court. Two weeks after that his body was found in a canal in Brussels naked with his hands cut off. I asked that Rapp and his men be detained pending an investigation into that murder as they were the prime suspects.”  ~ Christopher Black

Stephen Rapp with Mouaz Moustafa of the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF) responsible for bringing John McCain into Syria illegally in 2013. (Photo: Zoom info)

Rapp is included in an index of contact profiles for the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF) whose executive director is Mouaz Moustafa. Moustafa is probably best known for his role in bringing neocon warhawk, John McCain, into Syria illegally in 2013. McCain’s trip was dogged with controversy after he met with recognised militant kidnappers:

“US Senator John McCain was photographed with a known affiliate of the rebel group responsible for the kidnapping of 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims one year ago, during a brief and highly publicized visit inside Syria this week.” ~ Daily Star

Salim Idris, chief of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army and Mouaz Moustafa on right with John McCain.

Rapp and Moustafa were both heavily involved in the promotion of the Caesar report – Caesar is a codename for an alleged Syrian police photographer who apparently smuggled 53,275 photographs out of Syria implicating the Syrian government in a campaign of torture. This story has been investigated and discredited by independent researcher and journalist, Rick Sterling, his findings can be read here. Prof. Tim Hayward also analysed the credibility of the Caesar report in his more recent article in April 2019.

Caesar with Mouaz Moustafa in Washington DC. (Photo: Syrian American Council)

Having taken into account the glaring anomalies in Caesar’s accounts and in the identification of the photographs of “tortured” corpses attributed exclusively and erroneously to alleged victims of the Syrian government – Hayward drew the following conclusions:

To put bluntly this contextualised concern about Operation Caesar: not only may it already have altered the historical record, and not only may its effects have served to alter somewhat the course of history to date, but in serving to influence decision makers, it may contribute more indelibly to shifting the baseline of normative consensus in a direction favourable to ousting non-compliant leaders of sovereign states. That is effectively to bestow legitimacy on imperialist regime change projects.”

The FBI conducted its investigations into the Caesar report at Rapp’s request. The FBI carried out standard authentification analysis of 27,000 of the photographs and concluded that it could not “definitively rule out the possibility of tampering“. The report emerged at a crucial juncture in the dirty war being waged against Syria – just as members of Congress were pushing for increased “aid” for “rebels” and the creation of No-Fly-Zones and safe-zones for the U.S terrorist proxies disguised as “moderates”. Those members — including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce and ranking minority member Rep. Eliot Engelwere sponsor and co-sponsor of the subsequent Caesar bill, introduced in March 2017.

The bill had previously hit obstacles within the Obama administration in October 2016, when it was perceived that Obama was effectively trying to weaken the bill in favour of maintaining the ceasefire agreement with Moscow that was still active at that time.

The Caesar bill – Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2017/2018 was a means of increasing economic sanctions against Syria – never anything more than collective punishment for the Syrian people who have resisted eight years of regime change war that has decimated their infrastructure and severely affected their ability to survive economically.

Rapp defended the Caesar bill:

“It’s important to send the signal that those who engage in war crimes and those who aid and abet them are held to account with tools that are effective, and in the short term the most effective is sanctions”

Historically, sanctions are never effective as leverage against a target government, they are always “effective” against the people of a nation that is struggling to resist the machinations of U.S neo-colonialism. Sanctions are economic terrorism, designed to increase the pressure on those most affected by war and the associated poverty and homelessness. They amount to abject cruelty, compounding an already desperate situation brought about by the military adventurism of globalist nations.

So, Rapp alongside Cadman, has a clear intention to criminalise the Syrian government and to weaken the Syrian nation in preparation for a U.S-friendly regime change operation.

As Peter Ford has remarked – the latest attempt to prosecute President Assad and members of the Syrian government in the ICC is another element in the long running and insidious economic war that has been waged alongside the (failed) miliary campaign to destabilise Syria:

“Having failed in attempted regime change via miltant proxies Syria’s enemies are now embarked on an enterprise to secure the same result by waging economic war which must be justified by constant demonizing of Assad. That is the game being played here.”

Rodney Dixon – Qatar – Rwanda – Former Yugoslavia

Rodney Dixon, lawyer acting for Temple Garden Chambers.

Rodney Dixon is lawyer acting for Temple Garden Chambers who have also submitted a case against President Assad and the Syrian government at the ICC. According to his biography at Legal 500, Dixon appears to have had a long career protecting NATO interests, including:

He has prosecuted and defended before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) including as defence counsel on behalf of the former Prime Minister of Kosovo in protracted trial, appellate and retrial proceedings. He acted on behalf of the government of Rwanda before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Christopher Black interpreted this career path as follows:

“So Dixon acted for mass muderer and KLA leader, Hashim Thaci, in a staged trial the ICTY, arranged so that Thaci could be charged but aquitted-a game to give the ICTY some credibility. Thaci is a NATO asset. Dixon also acted as agent for mass murderer Paul Kagame the dictator of Rwanda put in power by the US, UK, Canada etc. and was his agent at the Rwanda tribunal (ICTR) which framed all the accused there as scapegoats for the crimes of Kagame and his western allies.

So, Dixon has been used by the NATO powers to protect their interests and that is his role in the scheme regarding Syria. Looking back on events, if he was at the ICTR in 2007 then he may have been behind the Rwandan government’s demand to have me arrested during my defence of General Nindiliyimana (Chief of Staff, Rwanda Gendarmerie, acquitted on all counts in 2014) when I demanded Kagame be charged with war crimes.”

Dixon has a history of working for Qatari clients. In 2017 Dixon represented three prominent Qatari nationals – who were unlawfully detained and tortured in the UAE between 2013 and 2015 by UAE security officials. In 2018, Dixon chaired a panel of experts calling for an end to the blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE. The event was organised by the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK and was held at University College, London.

Qatar has been one of the primary financiers of the terrorist forces that have invaded and occupied areas of Syria during the eight year conflict. The Caesar report was commissioned by London law firm, Carter-Ruck on contract to Qatar. Guy Martin, a specialist in sanctions in international law and partner at Carter Ruck Solicitors was also speaking on the panel protesting the sanctions against Qatar, chaired by Dixon.

According to French investigative journalist, Thierry Meyssan, Dixon had already declared an interest in pursuing the Syrian goverment for alleged war crimes, based upon the Carter Ruck-orchestrated Caesar Report:

“Mr. Dixon had already declared that he intended to pursue the Syrian leaders for « crimes against humanity ». He based his case on the Caesar Report; a document made public by Qatar, via the London cabinet Carter-Ruck, on 20 January 2014, two days before the peace negotiations of Geneva 2.”

The only conclusion to be drawn after examining the origins and motives of the cases being brought against President Assad at the ICC – is that the driver behind them is not international justice but regime change which is the ultimate goal of the U.S alliance in Syria. This renders any “humanitarian” outrage expressed by the legal entities involved nothing more than hollow rhetoric, a marketing ploy to elicit sympathy for the further persecution of a nation that has refused to submit to an unprecedented level of military pressure by terrorist proxy.

Expert opinions

I asked John Laughland how this case, if accepted by the ICC, reflects the nature and state of “international justice” in our world today. Laughland replied:

“International justice  is political justice. Typically, heads of state are judged by international courts for acts of state. They are never judged as actual perpetrators and therefore the acts adjudicated are state acts for which they have state responsibility. The trials are therefore not criminal trials in the proper sense of the word because state acts cannot be compared to private crimes, as they often are by the ideologues of international justice.  I have explained this at length in the final chapter of the second edition of my book, “A History of Political Trials from Charles I to Charles Taylor” (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2016).

Much of what I have been warning about for over a decade has now been proved true. For instance, Laurent Gbagbo, the former president of Ivory Coast, was the subject of a political indictment in 2011, the same year as Gaddafi, and this indictment was used to get him out of his home country (just as Charles Taylor was removed from Liberia for explicitly political reasons – again, see my book).  Yet earlier this year, more than eight years later, he was found innocent and released. A court which imprisons and innocent man for eight years should be immediately closed down.”

Like Ford, Laughland argued that if the case is accepted “the re-integration of Syria into the international or regional system will be impeded. Some states will back off from building bridges with Damascus” – another example of the weaponisation of “international justice” to punish an independent nation for protecting its interests and refusing to comply with U.S demands for ultimate control over their internal and external affairs.

Laughland did not believe that Syria could succeed with a positive engagement with the ICC, he believes that Damascus should ignore any proceedings at the ICC, “especially as they would be clearly illegal under international law”. Laughland cited the case of President Al-Bashir of Sudan:

“Ignoring the ICC was what President Al-Bashir of Sudan has done, and it has worked very well. Other states have ignored the warrant against him too, notably South Africa, which refused to arrest him on a visit there. This is one of the reasons why the ICC is in such spectacular crisis.”

Christopher Black also referred to the case of Laurent Gbagbo:

“If the prosecutor accepted the case on clearly trumped up evidence as it did with regard to President Gbagbo of Ivory Coast then it would confirm once again that the ICC is not an organ of international justice but a propaganda organ of US and British and EU imperialism.”

Black also concurred that there would be negative implications for President Assad and the Syrian government should the case be accepted by the ICC:

“President Assad can expect that he will be labeled in the western mass media as a war criminal in a mass propaganda campaign, and that this propaganda will bombard the Syrian people to undermine the Syrian government. To try to overcome that I suggest the formation of an international committee for his defence as we formed for President Milosevic to include not only international lawyers who support Syria but also artists, intellectuals, poets, etc who can try to counter this propaganda because Syrian denials will just be dismissed.”

Dr Marcus Papadopoulos had a more optimistic viewpoint:

“From the time I began giving television interviews on Syria, beginning in 2011, I have said that most Syrians, either actively or passively, support President Assad. And I hold the view that even more Syrians support their leader today. There are numerous factors in accounting for the Syrian people’s support of their president, and a key one is that Mr Assad guarantees Syria’s traditional status as a secular, multi-confessional country.

In light of their support, together with how they repelled Western, Turkish, Israeli and Saudi aggression, I do not believe that the Syrian people will pay any notice to what happens at the ICC regarding President Assad.  Indeed, I know that Syrians are asking – demanding, in fact – for Barack Obama, Erdogan and Mohammad bin Salman to be tried for crimes against Syrian civilians and Syrian prisoners of war by Islamist terrorists, such as the so-called Free Syrian Army, who all three leaders were supporting in Syria.”

Papadopoulos drew parallels between the politically motivated case against former Yugoslav leader, President Slobadan Milosevic and the threat of an equally politically motivated case against President Assad and members of the Syrian government:

“There are most certainly precedents, most notably the unfounded and politically-motivated case against President Slobodan Milosevic. That case against the former Yugoslav leader laid the foundation for what may very well transpire at the ICC against President Assad. But, Mr Milosevic faced Western aggression on his own, at a time when Russia was incapable of finding fuel for its tanks so that they could parade on Red Square. Conversely, Mr Assad faced Western aggression with Russia by his side, with Moscow capable of finding fuel for its aircraft so that they could fly all the way to Syria and take part in the fight against Wahhabi terrorism there.

So if the ICC does indict the Syrian president, it will not alter the reality on the ground in Syria – namely, that the Syrian people have prevailed over the hordes of Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Turning to whether the ICC will proceed to hear the case against President Assad, this probably will happen. But consider this: America, Britain, France, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are keen to start doing business with Syria again.  In light of that, dropping the case against President Assad might be in the interests of the aforementioned countries.”

Conclusions – the U.S is riding roughshod over international justice

In April 2019, President Trump and the U.S administration revoked the visa of the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda. The U.S warned that they would take action against anyone from the ICC who dared to investigate allegations of war crimes levied against U.S personnel in Afghanistan.

Ironically the U.S claimed its citizens and military personnel are outside the ICC’s jurisdiction – the ICC claims that Afghanistan is within its purview because the country had ratified the Rome Statute which established the court in 2003. A prime example of the perversion of “international justice” to serve the powerful global hegemons.

Shortly after, Israeli media reported that Trump had decreed that Israel should be exempt from prosecution at the ICC. One exceptionalist nation protecting another while both are guilty of violations of international law, human rights law and have committed a catalogue of war crimes and violated UN resolutions throughout their history. The United States and Israel are effectively exploiting the ICC without any intention of recognising its jurisdiction in relation to their own transparent criminality.

So, while the U.S legal machinery is determined to crush the Syrian government under the weight of its global tyranny, the same entity will not entertain any investigation into its bloody record of military interference abroad nor will it permit any legal pursuance of its allies for the human rights crimes they are persistently committing. This renders the entire concept of “international justice” a travesty and nothing more than a rogue state protectionist racket.

The campaign to prosecute President Assad at the ICC is a misdirection away from the real criminals in the UK/U.S Coalition who have violated every related element of international law in their campaign to destabilise Syria and the region. Without international law we are living in a world of the utmost insecurity where the most powerful can denigrate human rights in their surge to dominance and resource plundering at will from weaker and less supported nations.

The case against Syria at the ICC is the weaponisation of “international justice” to pressurise a militarily undefeated nation into submitting to and complying with U.S geopolitical doctrine. This process will benefit those within the interventionist alliance whose goal is regime change in Syria, it will not benefit the more rational political players who do, perhaps, accept that working with President Assad is the only way to re-establish bilateral economic relations with Syria.

As always, this is all about propaganda and the mobilisation of bias and not about “justice”. It is a colossal act of misdirection. Those countries and individuals who have armed, financed and promoted the terrorist extremism and savagery that has ravaged Syria and her people for eight years should be in the dock.

While the ICC is effectively controlled by the US/UK criminal ruling classes, there will be no true “international justice” only the facade of justice meted out against nations that are deliberately deprived of the opportunity to defend themselves.

May 29, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Comments on official response to the release of the Engineering Assessment of the Douma cylinders

By Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason, Piers Robinson, Members of Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media

1 Introduction

This post comments on the response to our release of the Executive Summary of the Engineering Assessment of the Douma cylinders on 13 May 2018. All emphases in quoted passages are added by us. After OPCW had confirmed the document to be genuine, the story was covered extensively by Russian media. An informed commentary by Professor Hiroyuki Aoyama in Tokyo has been published on Yahoo News’s Japanese site. The only coverage in western corporate media has been by Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday, Robert Fisk in the Independent and Tucker Carlson on Fox. Other journalists who have been in touch with us have told us that their stories were spiked by editors. As expected, the story has reached much larger numbers through websites and videos that have disseminated it.

2 OPCW’s response to the release of the document

2.1 Official response

In an email dated 11 May and shown to us, Deepti Choubey, the head of OPCW Public Affairs, wrote:

Thank you for reaching out to us. It is exclusively through the Fact-Finding Mission, set up in 2014, that the OPCW establishes facts surrounding allegations of use of toxic chemicals for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic. On 1 March 2019, the OPCW has issued its final and only valid official report, signed by the Director-General, regarding the incident that took place in Douma, Syrian Arab Republic, on 7 April 2018. The document you shared with us is not part of any of the material produced by the FFM. The individual mentioned in the document has never been a member of the FFM.

A subsequent email on 16 May stated:

The OPCW establishes facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic through the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), which was set up in 2014. The OPCW Technical Secretariat reaffirms that the FFM complies with established methodologies and practices to ensure the integrity of its findings. The FFM takes into account all available, relevant, and reliable information and analysis within the scope of its mandate to determine its findings. Per standard practice, the FFM draws expertise from different divisions across the Technical Secretariat as needed. All information was taken into account, deliberated, and weighed when formulating the final report regarding the incident in Douma, Syrian Arab Republic, on 7 April 2018. On 1 March 2019, the OPCW issued its final report on this incident, signed by the Director-General.

Per OPCW rules and regulations, and in order to ensure the privacy, safety, and security of personnel, the OPCW does not provide information about individual staff members of the Technical Secretariat. Pursuant to its established policies and practices, the OPCW Technical Secretariat is conducting an internal investigation about the unauthorised release of the document in question. At this time, there is no further public information on this matter and the OPCW is unable to accommodate requests for interviews.

This was taken as confirmation that the document was genuine.

2.2 Unofficial briefings

Following OPCW’s confirmation on 16 May that the document we had released was genuine, two individuals in the UK whose communications have supported UK government policy on Syria favouring regime change – Professor Scott Lucas of Birmingham University, and the former Guardian journalist Brian Whitaker – began reporting that they had inside information on how the Engineering Assessment had been excluded from the Final Report.

2.2.1 Lucas

On 16 May Lucas reported that:

Henderson was writing what was, in effect, a dissenting assessment from that of most of the OPCW’s team and consultant experts. His findings were considered but were a minority opinion as final report was written.

He followed this with a remarkably indiscreet tweet asserting that “I know how OPCW review process was conducted and what place Henderson’s assessment had in it.” When challenged to explain his connection to OPCW, Lucas did not answer. Hitchens reported on 24 May that OPCW Public Affairs had refused to comment on whether Lucas was receiving authorised briefings from OPCW.

2.2.2 Whitaker

Whitaker was at first more circumspect about his sources, reporting on 16 May that:

One story circulating in the chemical weapons community (though not confirmed) is that Henderson had wanted to join the FFM and got rebuffed but was then given permission to do some investigating on the sidelines of the FFM.

Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat extended Whitaker’s version with:

This reporting by @Brian_Whit on the leaked Douma report that the conspiracy theorists and chemical weapon denialists are so excited about is consistent with what I’m hearing. Looks like they all got played by a disgruntled OPCW employee.

In an article posted on 24 May, Whitaker was more explicit in reporting the spin of “an informed source” on the Engineering Assessment.

… an informed source has now shed some light on it. The key point here is the FFM’s terms of reference. Its basic role was to establish facts about the alleged attack, and it was not allowed to apportion blame—that is the job of the OPCW’s newly-created Investigation and Identification Team (IIT). Although the FFM determined that the cylinders were probably dropped from the air, the published report (in line with its mandate) omitted any mention of the obvious implication that they had been dropped by regime aircraft. According to the informed source, when Henderson’s assessment was reviewed there were concerns that it came too close to attributing responsibility, and thus fell outside the scope of the FFM’s mandate. Whether or not that was the right decision, there was no doubt that Henderson’s assessment did fall within the mandate of the new Investigation and Identification Team. For that reason, according to the source, he was advised to pass it to the IIT instead—and he did so.

Unless this account was entirely fabricated, it could only have come from someone with close knowledge of how the Final Report had been prepared. A subsequent tweet from Whitaker on 25 May, presumably channelling the same source, confirmed that “Henderson and others” had been in Douma:

Henderson and others did go to Douma to provide temporary support to the FFM, but they were not official members of the FFM.

2.3 What the channelling of off-the-record briefings tells us

It is likely that (at least on this occasion) Lucas and Whitaker are telling the truth, and that they have been briefed by someone with close knowledge of how the FFM Final Report was prepared. If these briefings had not been authorised, OPCW Public Affairs could easily have responded to Hitchens’s question with a standard statement reiterating that “there is no further public information on this matter” and that this extended to off-the-record briefings. We would expect OPCW press officers to be reluctant to issue further statements that could subsequently be shown to be false.

Like cellular biologists who perturb a complex system and measure its outputs, we can infer from these observations the existence of a pathway. This pathway connects the production of OPCW reports on alleged chemical attacks in Syria with a network of communicators in the UK who in different ways have promoted the cause of regime change in Syria since 2012. It is evident that Lucas and Whitaker are output nodes of this pathway. From August 2012, Whitaker as the Guardian’s Middle East editor promoted Higgins from obscure beginnings as a blogger to become a widely-cited source on the Syrian conflict. Whitaker was the first journalist to devote an article to attacking the Working Group, in February 2018 when its only collective output had been a brief blog post.

It is of course possible that OPCW management for some procedural reason was unable to provide further information on the record, and sought to disseminate an accurate version of events via off-the-record briefings. But the choice of such highly partisan commentators as Lucas and Whitaker as channels inevitably calls into question the good faith of whoever provided these briefings, and undermines any remaining pretence to impartiality on the part of OPCW management.

2.4 Discrepancies between versions of OPCW’s response

An established method in investigative journalism is to compare official versions and to infer from discrepancies what they are trying to hide. On 11 May OPCW Public Affairs stated that “The document you shared with us is not part of any of the material produced by the FFM. The individual mentioned in the document has never been a member of the FFM”. After we pointed out that these two statements were provably false – the external collaboration on the engineering assessment of the Douma cylinders must have been authorised by OPCW, and Henderson could hardly have been in Damascus on a tourist visa – they were not repeated on the record. By 16 May OPCW Public Affairs had formulated a new policy: “Per OPCW rules and regulations … the OPCW does not provide information about individual staff members of the Technical Secretariat.” A more subtle version of Henderson’s role was then channelled through Lucas and Whitaker: “minority opinion”, “on the sidelines” and elaborated by Higgins as “disgruntled OPCW employee”’. Between 16 May and 25 May the story channelled through Whitaker changed from “Henderson had wanted to join the FFM and got rebuffed but was then given permission to do some investigating on the sidelines of the FFM.” to admitting that “Henderson and others” were in Douma “to provide temporary support to the FFM”.

On 24 May Whitaker’s informed source admits that “Henderson’s assessment was reviewed” for the Final Report, no longer attempting to maintain that the Engineering Assessment was not part of the FFM’s process. If we strip away the flannel from this latest story, it appears to be accurate. The “informed source” tells us that the Engineering Assessment was excluded from the Final Report not because its technical analysis had been rebutted, but because the conclusion that the cylinders had been placed in position rather than dropped from the air would necessarily have attributed responsibility for the incident to the opposition.

The argument that the mandate of the FFM prevented it from endorsing the Engineering Assessment’s conclusion is easily refuted as a matter of logic. Announcing the release of the Final Report, OPCW stated that “The FFM’s mandate is to determine whether chemical weapons or toxic chemicals as weapons have been used in Syria.” In Douma this could be reduced to deciding between two alternatives: (1) the gas cylinders were dropped from the air, implying that they were used as chemical weapons; (2) the cylinders were placed in position, implying that the incident was staged and that no chemical attack had occurred. Although to conclude that alternative (2) was correct would implicate the opposition, this would not be attribution of blame for a chemical attack but rather a determination that chemical weapons had not been used.

Clearly a verdict that the alleged chemical attack had been staged would have been unacceptable to the French government, which had joined in the US-led missile attack on 14 April 2018. We can surmise that the Chief of Cabinet of OPCW, Sébastien Braha, who (according to his Linkedin profile) is still in post as a French diplomat, would have been in a difficult position if he had allowed the FFM to release a report that reached this conclusion. He would be in an even more difficult position if he were to allow the newly-established Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), which also reports to him, to overturn the conclusions of the Final Report and report that the alleged chemical attack was staged. Even if Braha’s failure to update his online profile with the date of leaving his diplomatic post is an oversight, this would still be a conflict of interest based on the OECD definition of what “a reasonable person, knowing the relevant facts, would conclude”. As we have noted, OPCW appears to have no arrangements for managing conflicts of interest. Until the governance and working practices of OPCW are radically reformed, it is hard to see how neutral observers can have confidence in the impartiality of the FFM or the IIT.

3 Government responses to an alleged chlorine attack on 19 May

3.1 Reports of the alleged attack

Possible allusions to the release of the Engineering Assessment on 13 May can be discerned in government responses to a report of an alleged chlorine attack in Idlib on 19 May. The earliest report, mentioning three missiles or shells loaded with chlorine was from an Arabic-language website named at 11.01 am Syrian time. The location was given as Kubina Hill in Kabbana village, on the border with Lattakia. At 12.46 am Syrian time Hamish de Bretton-Gordon (HdBG) tweeted

Appears to be a chlorine attack from Regime artillery shells in Jose Al Shugour village – 4 casualties being evacuated for treatment

“Jose Al Shugour village” is presumably the town of Jisr Al-Shughour. Rami Abdulrahman’s Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on 22 May that four fighters were treated in hospital after they “suffocated in the intense and violent shelling by the regime forces, … within caves and trenches” but did not endorse the claims of a chlorine attack, noting that the source of this story was “the Media platform of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham”. The story was elaborated in a Fox News report on 23 May that quoted a “Dr Ahmad” from Idlib, who reported that he had treated the casualties. Fox News also quoted Nidal Shikhani of the Chemical Violations Documentation Centre Syria (CVDCS).

A possible match for the identity of “Dr Ahmad” is Dr Ahmad al-Dbis, quoted by Reuters on 4 May 2019 as Safety and Security Manager for the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations (UOSSM), describing airstrikes on Idlib and northern Hama. Since 2016 both HdBG and the CBRN Task Force that he set up in 2013 have been affiliated to UOSSM. A report from 2014 quotes a “Dr Ahmad” described as a medic trained by HdBG for the CBRN Task Force. CVDCS is an NGO that has worked closely with the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission since 2015 to provide purported eyewitnesses for interview in Syria, originally established in 2012 as the Office of Documentation of the Chemical File in Syria, and later registered in Brussels as a non-profit company named Same Justice. This company never complied with the legal requirement to file accounts, and went into liquidation on 27 February 2019.

The site appears to be closely linked to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), frequently quoting HTS spokesmen and sometimes reporting exclusive stories obtained from HTS. On 31 May 2018 HTS was designated by the US Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. The Coordinator for Counterterrorism noted that this designation “serves notice that the United States is not fooled by this al-Qa’ida affiliate’s attempt to rebrand itself.” In conclusion, the provenance of this story of a chemical attack on 19 May is dubious, and the extent to which the sources are independent of one another is not clear.

3.2 UK response

On 22 May John Woodcock MP asked at Prime Minister’s Questions:

British experts are this morning investigating a suspected chlorine attack by al-Assad in Idlib. If it is proved, will she lead the international response against the return of this indiscriminate evil?

As expected, the Prime Minister gave a bellicose answer, but made no reference to OPCW.

… We of course acted in Syria, with France and the United States, when we saw chemical weapons being used there. … We are in close contact with the United States and are monitoring the situation closely, and if any use of chemical weapons is confirmed, we will respond appropriately.

Woodcock’s “British experts” appear to have included HdBG, who had suggested in a tweet the day before that Woodcock should ask the Prime Minister about Idlib, though not about a chemical attack. In a subsequent tweet Woodcock stated that his experts were “on the ground in Syria”.

3.3 French response

The daily press from the French foreign ministry on 22 May responded to a question on the alleged chemical attack on 19 May with:

We have noted with concern these allegations which must be investigated. We have full confidence in the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

3.4 US response

A press statement from State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus on 21 May dealt with the alleged chemical attack two days earlier:

Unfortunately, we continue to see signs that the Assad regime may be renewing its use of chemical weapons, including an alleged chlorine attack in northwest Syria on the morning of May 19, 2019. We are still gathering information on this incident, but we repeat our warning that if the Assad regime uses chemical weapons, the United States and our allies will respond quickly and appropriately.

She mentioned a “continuing disinformation campaign” to “create the false narrative that others are to blame for chemical weapons attacks that the Assad regime itself is conducting”. The following day Mr James Jeffrey, the State Department’s special representative to Syria, testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee that “So far we cannot confirm [the reports of chemical weapons use] but we’re watching it”. The New York Times reported this to be a “carefully worded recalibration” of the announcement by Morgan Ortagus the day before, and that American military officials had “expressed surprise over the State Department’s strong statement”.

4 Comparison of the Engineering Assessment with the published Final Report

A comparison of the Engineering Assessment and the Final Report have been reported in outline form by McIntyre. As Larson has noted, there are indications in the Final Report that whoever drafted it had access to an earlier version of the Engineering Assessment (the released version dated 27 February 2019 is marked Rev 1) and was attempting to rebut it without overtly mentioning it. For instance the Engineering Assessment lists five points supporting the opinion of experts that the crater at location 2 had been created by a the explosion of a mortar round or artillery rocket rather than an impact from a falling object. These points included:

“an (unusually elevated, but possible) fragmentation pattern on upper walls”

“(whilst it was observed that a fire had been created in the corner of the room) black scorching on the crater underside and ceiling.”

The Final Report states falsely that a fragmentation pattern, visible in open-source images, was absent:

The FFM analysed the damage on the rooftop terrace and below the crater in order to determine if it had been created by an explosive device. However, this hypothesis is unlikely given the absence of primary and secondary fragmentation characteristic of an explosion that may have created the crater and the damage surrounding it.

This is followed by a paragraph that notes the blackening of the ceiling and attributes it to the fire set in the room. The Final Report’s allusion to the possibility of an explosive device, with mention of fragmentation pattern and the setting of a fire in the room appears to be an attempt to explain away the argument made in the Engineering Assessment.

We note that several of the key findings of the Engineering Assessment are based only on examination of the cylinders. For instance the Engineering Assessment reports that the cylinder at Location 2 bears no markings that would be consistent with the frame with fins (lying on the balcony) ever having been attached to it, let alone the markings that would be expected if the frame had been stripped off by impact. The Final Report records that the Syrian government insisted on retaining custody of the cylinders for criminal investigation purposes. Accordingly:

On 4 June, FFM team members tagged and sealed the cylinders from Locations 2 and 4, and documented the procedure.

A useful way to take forward the investigation of the Douma incident would now be for the Syrian government to invite an international team of neutral experts to examine the cylinders, to assess whether the observations support the findings of the Engineering Assessment or the conclusions of the published FFM Final Report, and to publish their findings in a form that allows peer review and reproducibility of results from data. The next step would be a criminal investigation of this incident, focusing on where, how and by whom were the 35 victims seen in images at Location 2 killed.

May 29, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | Leave a comment

Massive increase in death sentences in Sisi’s Egypt

MEMO | May 28, 2019

Almost 2,500 people, including women and children, have been sentenced to death in Egypt since the 2013 coup in which the democratically-elected government of Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. At least 144 death sentences have been carried out by Sisi’s government, which started a crackdown on opposition groups when he came to power six years ago, according to new figures published by the UK-based rights group Reprieve.

Egyptian courts have issued death sentences for 75 or more defendants in one sitting in at least five separate trials during this period. These mass trials and death sentences are said to “depend on a chain of human rights abuses that extends from the time of detention through sentencing.”

Citing the UN, the Reprieve report said that the arbitrary arrest and mass sentencing that followed Sisi’s crackdown has become a “chronic problem”. The use of torture has become “common practice” and its prevalence has been described as a “torture assembly line”. Hundreds of people have been subjected to enforced disappearance, many of whom are later sentenced in mass trials.

Children are also subjected to the same ordeal. Thousands of minors have been arrested unlawfully since July 2013. They are often tried in mass proceedings alongside adult defendants.

Reprieve said that it compiled the report using publicly available information from lawyers and organisations in Egypt as well as other government and non-government agencies. Data published by the group shows a stark contrast in the number of death sentences carried out in the pre-Sisi era — one — compared with the time since the Sisi-led coup, which stands at 144 and counting. When it comes to mass trials leading to death sentences, the rise in the Sisi period to 33 from only two in the pre-Sisi era represents a massive 1,550 per cent increase.

A similar trend can be seen in the number of death sentences handed to individuals who were under 18 at the time of their alleged offence, which the report notes is “a serious violation of both Egyptian and international law.” Ten juveniles have been handed death sentences under Sisi while prior to him seizing power only one minor faced the death penalty.

The execution rate for women during the Sisi period is also much higher than the rate for men. Thirty-two women have had their death sentences confirmed under Sisi; 11 of them have been executed.

Reprieve concludes that despite a number of member states raising the issue at the UN, the “international response has been inadequate given the scope of the problem.” It found that even as Sisi has been executing Egyptians at an unprecedented rate, cooperation between European states, the EU, the US and Egypt’s criminal justice and defence sectors has continued largely unabated. The European Commission is even said to have provided over $10 million worth of assistance to Egypt’s judiciary in the past four years as part of a programme called, ironically, “Support for the Modernisation of the Administration of Justice” (SMAJ).

May 29, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Iran dismisses Bolton’s ‘ridiculous’ claims on UAE attacks

Press TV – May 29, 2019

Iran has rejected “ridiculous” claims by US National Security Adviser John Bolton blaming Tehran for the recent mysterious attacks on commercial vessels off the coast of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi responded to Bolton’s allegations that the May 12 attacks on four oil tankers — an Emirati, a Norwegian and two Saudi vessels — had been caused by Iranian naval mines.

Mousavi said it was not surprising that such “ridiculous” comments were made at Bolton’s meeting with another member of the so-called B-Team, namely Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The designation comes from earlier remarks by Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif who said that the “B-Team” — comprising Bolton, bin Zayed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — were dragging US President Donald Trump into war with Iran.

“But, Mr. Bolton and other warmongers need to know that the strategic patience, high vigilance and full defense readiness of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which emanates from the strong resolve of its great nation, will not let them fulfill their ominous schemes to create chaos in the region,” Mousavi noted.

Speaking at a press conference in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, Bolton alleged that the May 12 incident had been caused by Iranian naval mines, without providing any evidence to substantiate his claim.

“I think it is clear these (tanker attacks) were naval mines almost certainly from Iran,” he claimed.

Initially after reports of the Fujairah explosions, the UAE denied there had been any incident, but later confirmed that four commercial vessels had been targeted by “sabotage operations,” without elaborating.

Bolton’s claims come while an investigation is still underway into the incident, with UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash saying days after the incident that Abu Dhabi would not speculate about who was behind the sabotage before the end of the probe.

Iran has slammed the attacks as “lamentable” and “worrying.”

Foreign Minister Zarif noted that he had already warned of such suspicious “accidents” because of Washington’s renewed warmongering policies promoted by Bolton and other US hawks.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Bolton said that the Fujairah incident was connected to retaliatory Yemeni drone strikes targeting pumping stations on Saudi Arabia’s East-West pipeline as well as a rocket attack on Baghdad’s Green Zone, which occurred within days in mid-May.

Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement — which has been defending Yemen against a Saudi-led war — has already said the drone raids were an act of self defense and had nothing to do with Iran.

Bolton also referred to “an unsuccessful attack” on Saudi Arabia’s port city of Yanbu’, a few days before the Fujairah incident.

He further claimed that the US was trying to be “prudent and responsible” in its approach toward the region and had sent additional forces there as a “deterrent.”

“These attacks were unfortunately consistent with the very serious threat information that we had been obtaining. It is one reason we increased our deterrent capability in the region,” he said.

The Trump administration has imposed illegal sanctions on Iran and beefed up its military presence in the Persian Gulf, citing alleged and unspecified threats posed by the Islamic Republic to American troops and interests.

Tehran has said it will not be the initiator of any war, but reserves the right to self defense and will give a crushing response to any act of aggression.

May 29, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , | Leave a comment