conflict zones, latest

Op-ed: The west closes its ears to Douma testimony


An alleged victim of the alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria, April 7 2018.

Jonathan Cook writes in his blog:

The response from the US, UK and France to a briefing on Thursday at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague was perverse, to say the least. Russia had brought 17 witnesses from Douma who stated that there had been no chemical weapons attack there earlier this month – the pretext for an illegal air strike on Syria by the three western states.

The witnesses, a mix of victims and the doctors who treated them, told accounts that confirmed a report provided last week from Douma by British reporter Robert Fisk – a report, it should be noted, that has been almost entirely blanked by the western media. According to the testimony provided at the OPCW, the victims shown in a video from the site of the alleged attack were actually suffering from the effects of inhaling dust after a bombing raid, not gas.

The first strange thing to note is that the US, UK and France boycotted the meeting, denouncing Russia for producing the witnesses and calling the event an “obscene masquerade” and “theatre”. It suggests that this trio, behaving like the proverbial three monkeys, think the testimony will disappear if they simply ignore it. They have no interest in hearing from witnesses unless they confirm the western narrative used to justify the air strikes on Syria.

Testimony from witnesses is surely a crucial part of determining what actually happened. The US, UK and France are surely obligated to listen to the witnesses first, and then seek to discredit the testimony afterwards if they think it implausible or coerced. The evidence cannot be tested and rebutted if it is not even considered.

The second is that the media are echoing this misplaced scorn for evidence. They too seem to have prejudged whether the witnesses are credible before listening to what they have to say (similar to their treatment of Fisk). Tellingly, the Guardian described these witnesses as “supposed witnesses”, not a formulation that suggests any degree of impartiality in its coverage.

Notice that when the Guardian refers to witnesses who support the UK-UK-French line, often those living under the rule of violent jihadist groups, the paper does not designate them “supposed witnesses” or assume their testimony is coerced. Why for the Guardian are some witnesses only professing to be witnesses, while others really are witnesses? The answer appears to depend on whether the testimony accords with the official western narrative. There is a word for that, and it is not “journalism”.

The third and biggest problem, however, is that neither the trio of western states nor the western media are actually contesting the claim that these “supposed witnesses” were present in Douma, and that some of them were shown in the video. Rather, the line taken by the Guardian and others is that: “The veracity [of] the statements by the Russian-selected witnesses at The Hague will be challenged, since their ability to speak truthfully is limited.”

So the question is not whether they were there, but whether they are being coerced into telling a story that undermines the official western narrative, as well as the dubious rationale for attacking Syria.

But that leaves us with another difficulty. No one, for example, appears to be doubting that Hassan Diab, a boy who testified at the hearing, is also the boy shown in the video who was supposedly gassed with a nerve agent three weeks ago. How then do we explain that he is now looking a picture of health? It is not as though the US, UK and French governments and the western media have had no time to investigate his case. He and his father have been saying for at least a week on Russian TV that there was no chemical attack.

Instead, we are getting yet more revisions to a story that was originally presented as so cut-and-dried that it justified an act of military aggression by the US, UK and France against Syria, without authorisation from the UN Security Council – in short, a war crime of the highest order.

It is worth noting the BBC’s brief account. It has suggested that Diab was there, and that he is the boy shown in the video, but that he was not a victim of a gas attack. It implies that there were two kinds of victims shown in the video taken in Douma: those who were victims of a chemical attack, and those next to them who were victims of dust inhalation.

That requires a great deal of back-peddling on the original narrative.

It is conceivable, I suppose, that there was a chemical attack on that neighbourhood of Douma, in which people like Diab assumed they had been gassed when in fact that they had not been, and that others close by were actually gassed. It is also conceivable that the effects of dust inhalation and gassing were so similar that the White Helmets staff filmed the “wrong victims”, highlighting those like Diab who had not been gassed. And it is also conceivable, I guess, that Diab and his family now feel the need to lie under Russian pressure about there not being a gas attack, even though their account would, according to this revised narrative, actually accord with their experience of what happened.

But even if each of these scenarios is conceivable on its own, how plausible are they when taken together. Those of us who have preferred to avoid a rush to judgment until there was actual evidence of a chemical weapons attack have been invariably dismissed as “conspiracy theorists”. But who is really proposing the more fanciful conspiracy here: those wanting evidence, or those creating an elaborate series of revisions to maintain the credibilty of their original story?

If there is one thing certain in all of this, it is that the video produced as cast-iron evidence of a chemical weapons attack has turned out to be nothing of the sort.



  1. Richard Wicks says

    It’s pretty obvious to anybody that has actually watched and studied Syria that all the supposed gas attacks were either staged, or false flags at this point.

    I think the question ought to be why the US wants to go to war with Syria? Part of it, is there’s a Russian military base there. Another is that Genie Energy (with Dick Cheney, Rupert Murdoch, Robert Woolsey, and Jacob Rothschild among others on their strategic board of directors) signed a deal with israel to mine oil in the Golan Heights which is Syrian land.

    We have to stop pretending that our governments and our media are just bamboozled and incompetent. They are complicit, and they are a very dangerous criminal gang. They are every bit as bad as the propagandists of the USSR and the 3rd Reich, they are every bit as militaristic and insane about killing as any previous empire that’s ever existed.

  2. Meanwhile, in the real world …. State of play from SyrPer 19 hr ago:


    As the war of aggression against Syria gets pushed to its very far borders with Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, away from the productive center of Syria and its vital coastal side, a war that was clearly won by the Syrians, by their Gov’t and its allies, provocation after provocation continue to happen on a weekly basis, but the bait was never taken.

    Hizballah’s leaderhsip has just now announced mission accomplished in Syria, with the deal to evac 5,000 remaining civilians from Fuah & Kafraya in exchange for al Qaeda and Wahhabeasts in southern Damascus. Hizballah can now retrieve their last forces from that pocket and prepare for the up coming war against Israhell.

    Yesterday’s attack is one more attempt to draw in Iran to counter-attack Israel, then blaming this on Russia. Syria, Iran, Russia and Hizballah did not respond to the provocations, showing maturity in dealing with morons and warmongers. Response to Israhelli aggression into Syria’s base will come from Syria at a chosen time; meanwhile, Hizballah knows they are next on the US/KSA/Israhell hit list, and is preparing for what the southern Lebanese people believe to be the battle to liberate Palestine.

    Meanwhile, Natan SatanYahoo has just embarrassed himself (or would if he could be embarrassed) “revealing” a copy of some files delivered by the Iranian Gov’t to the IAEA in 1999-2003 as though “exposing” a sinister secret. 20 minutes of senseless bullshit.

  3. Something is definitely rotten in the states of FUKUS. Where the media now unashamedly is owned by the deep state which operates an act of increasingly incredible and often violent deception. No one questions the actions of the aforementioned Governments actions at the OPCW as outlined above by Jonathan Cook.

    What strikes me in all of this is the latest titbit which has been thrown to try hide the actions of the crazed UK-cons and M16/5. The head of Rudd in almost a “Windrush to judgement”. So the Graun’s editor Katharine Viner can opine ad nauseam about speaking truth to power. A play pretending that the media might in fact be free. Or should I say “D” not free? [A D-notice issued by the Uk Gov to prevent further reporting of the Skripal case.]

    Unfortunately one flower does not a spring make [chineese provb.] and Ms Viner surely knows this. The vapid declined of the Graun has been meteoric under her stewardship and we are now faced with a glaring question when it comes to news or propaganda – which has the true feel of honesty?

    I think we know the answer and this is the real problem for the state and its paid for shills. If you cry wolf too many times in the end nobody believes you. That point has already been reached and no amount of crowing will change it.

  4. MichaelK says

    A strong and confident ruling elite… ‘welcomes’ criticism, if only to show how ridiculous and ill-founded it is. Criticism is healthy because it focuses on obvious weaknesses that can be rectified, thereby strengthening the state.

    It’s a sign of decline when the state begins to clamp down on dissent and criticism. ‘Reality’ is more often than not, hidden in the words and ideas of the critics and dissidents. Increasingly our rulers are retreating from ‘reality’ and free, open, debates… because they are ‘losing it.’

    An elite that is forced or choses to retreat from reality, or facts, is in deep trouble and probably doomed.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      The Right has gone so barking mad as its Evil, Life-destroying, Nirvana of Free Market Absolutist capitalism, and Imperial Rule through ‘Western Values’ collapses, that Murdoch’s cancer here in Austfailure is even accusing the dreaded, omnipresent, ‘Russian bots’ of rigging union elections. It is a quite obvious paranoid psychopathy this imagining of the bete Russe infecting EVERY avenue of life, with the omnipotent Putin pulling strings upon strings upon strings-my ‘String Theory is that, if we ever discern the basic substance of the cosmos a million million times smaller than an electron, we will ‘see’ infinite numbers of little Putins pulling all those cosmic strings, into intractable knots.

  5. Copy and Paste Corner:

    Jer. 5:21 (King James version): “which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not.” There are none so blind as those who will not see.

    TS Eliot: “perfect your will“.

  6. Humbaba says

    The West trusts anonymous jihadist fighters and their supporters who don’t dare show their faces more than the locals and doctors of Douma.

    Sooner or later these jihadists will turn up in our neighborhood in the West. Will they be still the West’s trusted allies then?

    Worth reading:

    Britain’s collusion with radical Islam: Interview with Mark Curtis

  7. The corruption of Western elites, their lackey clowns who function as our fearless leaders and the utterly shameless media is total, complete, absolute and nothing new. One has to believe in a “magic bullet” in order to accept the official JFK assassination narrative, and in the “temporary suspension of the laws of physics” in order to accept the official story of the disintegration of three steel concrete structures on 9/11. Yet for many Western populations this seems an acceptable price to pay in order to maintain their absolute denial of reality.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      I sometimes peruse a copy of Murdoch’s local flag-shit, the ‘Australian’ which has the unspeakable gall to call itself ‘The Heart of the Nation'(hideously, all too true) at the local library. I am always intrigued to note that >90% of op-ed pieces, letters, editorials etc, are nothing much more than lies, misrepresentation, distortion and sheer, vicious, hate-mongering. The ‘news’ stories, too, are often tissues of lies, many lies that are pretty much beyond dispute, unless you are a Rightwing psychopath living in a nightmare world. The impression one gets, always, is that the Right exist to hate and destroy that which they hate, which appears to be pretty much everything but themselves.
      For just one recent example, coral reef scientists recently released a report that shewed that the Great Barrier Reef had suffered massive damage in two bleaching events, one after another, 2016-7. The ‘Austfailian’ simply denied it had happened, quoting ONE scientists opposing the research of scores. This is pretty typical Murdochian moral insanity and intellectual viciousness, but, in this case, the one dissenting scientist soon made clear that he had been misrepresented, and he more or less concurred with is colleagues.
      A fakestream media system such as that which exists in the West is simply a mechanism for committing, justifying and enabling Evil, Evil so absolute that it actually encompasses the destruction of Life on Earth. Just now I’m watching the local Government run ABC waxing almost joyful in pushing Netantahu’s latest lying gibberish re. Iran. No doubt ANY hesitancy in joining the demented rush to aggression and genocide in Iran would be deemed ‘antisemitic’ and end some truly sordid ‘careers’.

    • Hertog Jan says

      //absolute denial of reality//

      Having heard me challenging a few aspects of the normal Western narrative, an American (born in the late 40s) once told me: “All I know is that I am paying my taxes and ‘voting Democrat’.” Anything else, it would seem, was irrelevant.

  8. Jethro Q says

    We live in interesting times. Never before has the media been unable to manufacture consent. The lies are out in the open and people no longer trust the laughably idiotic misinformation coming from corporate media. Ordinary people, not juat news junkies and amateur foreign policy obsessives like myself, clearly have rejected the garbage they are being spoonfed.

    • A. J. B says

      Is there a D Notice on Syria? There’s currently a strange absence of any information.
      Also the Skripals…. were they just a dream?

      • As good a place as any to mention this but I am sure the irony of last night’s Panorama programme wasn’t lost on anyone here – journalists and other commentators haughtily condemning trial prosecution teams for failing to follow due process resulting in them not allowing the defence access to prosecution evidence which would at least give the defence something to work on and may even have provided evidence which might have helped the defence case. Oh but of course such standards don’t apply to dastardly foreigners, do they?

    • Richard Wicks says

      The USSR collapsed because it’s media was no longer able to manufacture consent.

      I believe, basically, that the ruling class and the corporate propaganda, has gotten so lazy, and so corrupt, that they can’t get good people to tell convincing lies anymore.

      We’re not at the level of the USSR yet though – not even close. When people just laugh at the media, and I mean something like +50% do, we’re there.

  9. bevin says

    “The best that can come out of this lunacy is the Syrians receive the S300 from Russia so that they can defend themselves, failure of Putin to do so after those 3 have breached International law once again, can only embolden the West…”
    Read this at John Helmer’s website:
    Here is a taste of the argument which is all about US sanctions against Rusal
    “On April 6, the US Treasury announced it is putting the state aluminium monopoly United Company Rusal out of business, not only in the US but worldwide. …”
    He concludes:
    “….Putin has opted for one step short of extending Russian missile defence beyond the Russian air and naval bases to cover the territory now controlled by the Bashar al-Assad government.

    “This was discussed by Putin with General Staff chief Valery Gerasimov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on April 20. The Russian military, they told the President, want the go-ahead to deploy S-300 missile batteries to cover Syrian and Iranian forces against US and Israeli attack from the air. They believe Israeli threats to attack the S-300 batteries as soon as they are operational are a bluff which Russia must call if Russia’s positions in Syria, and Iran itself, are not to come under subsequent attack from the American-Israeli combination. Testing the threat in Syria, they argue, is the less threatening, less costly option than encouraging the Americans and Israelis to prepare their offensive against Iran. “Putin won’t agree. …”

  10. Ivan says

    The message is very clear: the truth is what WE (US, UK, France and the west in general) say is truth,

    And they know that this is the message which gets to the people in the west, whatever are the words which get written in the journals.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Ivan, you forgot the additional diktat-‘And we will kill anyone who gets in our way’.

  11. RJ Vela says

    The vilification of Russia will never cease while NATO exists. NATO ensures Europe will live on the military equipment sold from the US and the UK. A combined market share nearly topping 70%. The very next contender in the military arms sales is Russia. At the end of it all, its about money and whats worst of all is that the elites in the military industrial complex have so much money yet it is not enough. Theyre willing to wreak havoc on the world to become the monopolizers of perpetual warfare.

  12. Harry Law says

    17 actual witnesses are shunned by OPCW because they contradict social media videos put out by the head choppers supporters the white helmets. Will the war criminals Trump, May and Macron face justice? The best that can come out of this lunacy is the Syrians receive the S300 from Russia so that they can defend themselves, failure of Putin to do so after those 3 have breached International law once again, can only embolden the West and encourage them to send 1000 cruise missiles next false flag.

  13. Nothing now will wipe the belief that we have all been taken by the UK, US and France, that we have been lied to and propagandized, that Russia has been vilified along with Assad again. I, for one, am thoroughly sick and tired of constant American and its puppet states’ lies. Enough already!

    • Paul X says

      I’m finding it astonishing how many people I meet have written off Salisbury and Douma as ‘get-ups’. It’s especially noticeable in apolitical straight goers. “‘Course it was!” is the usual response. You see it in Daily Mail comments too even though the story it comments on is of the ‘Evil Super Satan controls your toaster!” type. It’s a good example of how the media elite have lost control. Has it ever happened before?

      • FS says

        And no doubt the ‘media elite’, watching this supposed scepticism spread among the useless eaters, are feeling even more emboldened. That many people are not as gullible as the elite would like apprently makes no difference to anything whatsoever. The infiltration and corruption of our political and legal institutions has seen to that. A dumbed-down public with short memories also helps.

        • Tim Groves says

          A great deal of the general public has alway been dumb enough to march cheerfully off to war or to gleefully burn witches or attend hangings, drawings, quarterings and cock fights. Even after “universal education” was supposedly brought in, a majority of the plebs and proles never really smartened up. So a dumbed down public doesn’t concern me unduly. On the other hand, I’m loosing serious beauty sleep over the lamentable state of the dumbed down Western elites.

          • FS says

            They’re as well-equipped as they need to be to hold on to the reins of power.

      • Ceredig says

        Yes it has happened before. During WWII an entire generation of British young men were thrown together in the armed forces and communicated directly with each other free of media intermediaries and political interference, much as today’s young people are communicating on social media. In 1945 that generation voted socialist in a landslide and in the face of the establishment. I believe the same thing will happen again.

      • Richard Wicks says

        It happened in the USSR in the late 1980s. The USSR collapsed in 1992.

        So. Finger’s crossed – maybe we can get rid of these criminals in just 10 more years, or less!

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