The Skripal/Douma Provocation A Western “Humanitarian” Project

In the light of history, the 14th of April 2018 will be seen as the day that everything changed. Without the missile strike on Syria, the previous actions of the criminals responsible may have gone unnoticed for longer and their activities gone unpunished. But now their supreme confidence in their ability to conduct “provocations” with impunity will be their downfall, if there is any justice in the world, and those who can enforce it.

It was said at Nuremberg and is worth repeating, that:

“War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

By the peculiar circumstances of the joint US/UK/French missile attack on Syria, launched in violation of international law and without congressional or parliamentary consent, the question of all the other war crimes committed by these partners is made apparent.

Until this point, and the evident pig-headed but calculated determination to launch the strike, some previous crimes may have been overlooked or excused as errors. But no longer.

As with any serial burglar or fraudster, overconfidence led to carelessness, and a slip that just cannot be overlooked or concealed.

On its own, the identification of BZ – a “military grade” paralyzing drug of a type NOT made in Russia, but possessed of the US and UK militaries, mightn’t have been sufficiently incriminating to turn the spotlight round onto the real culprits of the Skripals’ poisoning. With the help of corrupt or careless media, many such crimes committed by the Empire have been covered over or used against the victims; the downing of MH17 stands out.

But the BZ wasn’t on its own. Candidly revealing the presence of “Novichok or related compound” in environmental samples, as of “very high purity”, to imply that this could only mean it was produced by a State, gave the game away. As carefully explained by Russian experts – and who would doubt the Russians’ expertise in making chemical weapons – such substances generally only retain their “high purity” for a matter of hours, and at most for only days before degrading or vaporizing.

Following some apparent disagreement over where the Skripals should be alleged to have been contaminated with the highly toxic “Novichok”, the final conclusion that it was their own front doorknob seems to have been improvised to fit the developing narrative, and the timeline of events unfolding far away in Syria. Not only did the victims of the ultra-deadly nerve agent show no symptoms of poisoning for three hours after they left home, but the OPCW team that took the environmental samples arrived nearly three weeks later.

These details caused Russia to conclude that the sampled points had been contaminated with “Novichok” long after the Skripals left their home, by agents unknown but with access to the restricted area.

Four days after the symbolic strike on Syria’s dismantled and abandoned chemical weapons facilities by the thirty-odd missiles that managed to penetrate Syria’s air defenses, the OPCW met at The Hague to discuss the results of tests on the Skripals. By coincidence an OPCW team had also finally arrived in Damascus, charged with visiting the site of the alleged attack in Douma on Russia’s request. (This demand for verification of the West’s false allegations was made by Russia a week before the launching of the strike, and intended to forestall such dangerous and unjustifiable action.)

As if at the hand of some great orchestrator, the countries responsible for or complicit in both “chemical weapons” incidents were meeting in London, with the main subjects of discussion “Russia’s use of chemical weapons” and “Russia’s cyber capabilities”.

Yet in both of these cases Russia’s supposed culpability had just been dramatically disproven, and the searchlight turned on the UK government of Theresa May.

In Douma, desperate attempts by Western powers to stop the OPCW from visiting the site of the claimed attack, – and finding nothing – combined wild claims that Russian and Syrian forces were destroying the evidence, with highly suspect interviews with locals who claimed to have been affected by the “Chlorine” attack. Pre-empting such testimonies was a story in the Guardian claiming doctors were being intimidated by the Syrian government to remain silent, when in fact these doctors had left on the buses with the jihadist mercenaries they are supporting. These stories were in contrast to the already established evidence and witness testimonies obtained by Russian investigators and independent journalists.

Quite bizarrely, the discovery of a chemical weapons plant in Douma, abandoned by the departing terrorists, was reported by the mainstream but subsequently ignored. It featured at the start of a report that otherwise presented the conventional and conflicting narrative. By the finish, most viewers would likely have forgotten what they had been told, and imagined they had seen the chemical lab where President Assad personally mixed up his hate-filled toxic missiles, under instruction over the phone from the Kremlin.

“OPCW inspectors prevented from visiting site of chemical attack in Syria” was the leading story in bulletins on this day, with news of the OPCW’s findings on the Skripal poisoning only getting a mention later. Although Russia’s “claims” were mentioned, they had been dismissed by the OPCW and the governments of NATO countries it appears to serve.

Had it not been for Sergei Lavrov’s releasing the confidential findings of the Spiez laboratory in Switzerland that tested the Skripal samples, the presence of another but quite unrelated chemical warfare agent would surely never have got a mention:

“Referring to Lavrov’s claims about the discovery of BZ, Marc-Michael Blum, the head of the OPCW laboratory, told the meeting: “The labs were able to confirm the identity of the chemical by applying existing, well-established procedures. There was no other chemical that was identified by the labs. The precursor of BZ that is referred to in the public statements, commonly known as 3Q, was contained in the control sample prepared by the OPCW lab in accordance with the existing quality control procedures. Otherwise it has nothing to do with the samples collected by the OPCW team in Salisbury.”

By this simple statement Blum has effectively established his credentials as an instrument of political pressure, and ruined the credentials of the OPCW. Not seeking to deny Lavrov’s claim that BZ or its precursor was found in the sample, he instead confirmed both its presence and Lavrov’s accusation of foul play by proposing a completely implausible explanation – that the BZ precursor was from the control sample.

While it should be unnecessary to quote a scientific reference for something so fundamental to all scientific analyses as control samples, this text on “quality control” samples for Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry analysis should suffice:

The blank samples must be as close as possible in composition to the samples being analysed (matrix matching). QC samples are typically prepared in bulk and analysed at regular intervals to monitor assay precision and bias.

Acceptance of data usually depends on QC samples being successfully quantified within predefined limits. It is becoming routine to reanalyse a proportion of test samples to demonstrate that the precision of the assay is under control (incurred sample reanalysis – ISR). This is because test samples are often subtly different to control samples. For example, biological samples may contain metabolites, where QC samples will not. Predefined criteria must be in place to allow assessment of replicate data sets.

For a more detailed and technical review of analysis of chemical warfare agents see here, particularly noting the extreme structural difference between nerve agents, blistering agents and incapacitating agents. The formula for “Novichok” or A234 can be seen here, and while its relation to other organophosphorus nerve agents of the Sarin type is clear, it also bears not the slightest resemblance to incapacitating agents fentanyl or 3-quinuclynidyl benzilate – BZ.

This dissimilarity applies equally to the breakdown products of BZ – “3Q” and the double benzene ring benzilate fraction. To refer to these as “precursors” is equally misleading. It is also clear that the analytical process to detect BZ is quite different from that applicable to nerve agents, particularly following their degradation in the body. The control sample for such analysis would presumably have been either BZ or its breakdown product 3Q.

In a remarkable interview with the BBC’s Stephen Sackur, Sergei Lavrov declared that “We are losing the last remnants of trust in our Western partners.” And though Sackur seemed incapable of understanding or even considering Lavrov’s considered words, the ramifications he touches on in the statement linked above, delivered just after the missile strike on Syria, explain quite unambiguously why this trust has been lost.

For Russia and her allies, the unavoidable conclusion that the Skripal “provocation” and the Douma provocation are part and parcel of the same gross deception by the same principle states – the UK, US and France, means that all other previous similar events used by those countries to further their geopolitical objectives must be considered as likely “provocations” also.

Considering what this means for the European and American “humanitarian” project, used to justify interference in other countries affairs when they stand in the way of Western goals, the recent outburst from the Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan illustrates the depth of this deceit. In listing all the crimes that the “liberal” and “humanitarian” supporters of the Syrian Opposition have used to justify Western interference in Syria, Hasan actually identifies all the lies that have been told about Bashar al Assad and the Syrian Arab Army.

Right now there are about eight million “Assad apologists” around Damascus cheering their heroic leader and their heroic army, who despite everything have prevailed against the terrorist hordes and their war criminal backers in London, Paris and Washington. For them at least, this was the final provocation.

Originally published: David Macilwain (American Herald Tribune)

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